Dearest embodiments of love.
Because we only meet here once a year, and for just a short time before departing again, our relationship with each other is kept ever fresh and everlasting.
All of you who are gathered here come from very different backgrounds and various walks of life. Whilst some of you have come from abroad, and others have travelled from different parts of the country, you have all had to overcome a lot of inconveniences and difficulties to attend Baba`s birthday. For this, I shower my abundant blessings on all of you, from both hands, on the divine occasions of New Year, Sankranthi (Telugu festival), Baba`s birthday and The World Peace Conference, to have a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous life.
Embodiments of love.
This Hindu nation of India leads the world in terms of the great values of: spirituality, bravery, valour and sacrifice. This is the only place on earth where one can find such values, and no other country can compete with India in this matter. The freedom which the citizens of this country are enjoying today is the result of great sacrifices from countless number of people; many of whom even gave their lives fighting for this country. Therefore, you must start each day by paying your respects and gratitude towards those freedom fighters for giving you this wonderful free life.
Irrespective of the religion one belongs to – be it either: Christianity, Islam or any other religion – if one is to gain even a little bit of knowledge about spirituality, attaining peace, self-realization, or the ultimate, which is to know divinity, then one has to come here to India because nowhere else can one get this knowledge. It is like a prasadam (blessed food) which you get from God; from the Divine itself.
The origin of every religion is known, except the origin of Hinduism. It is the most ancient of religions since it has existed since time immemorial, and no historian has ever succeeded in estimating its time of origin. So great is the Hindu religion, its culture and heritage, that, without losing our ancient culture, we have imbibed the present day trends in terms of technological development, education and various other socio economic fields.
Christians and Muslims living here in India have not migrated from any other country. There are some who have converted to Hinduism, but one cannot benefit from such conversions. Instead, try to become a good human being, which will help in the progress of the country, and in turn lead to your own personal well being.
A look back in history would show that Hinduism is the only religion that has ever been used as a medium for teaching spirituality. Every Avatar, including Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, has chosen the great divine motherland of India in which to descend, whereas prophets from other religions, who preached only about humanity, were not born in India. If one wishes to learn about the Vedas, attain self-realization (moksha) i.e., to know about the true self, or to experience the Divine in human form, one has to come to India as all this is available only in India. In the past, many have plundered our rich heritage by stealing the treasures and wealth from our country, but no one has been able to steal from us our invaluable culture, traditions and heritage, and where people still come to absorb the spirituality which is only available here. Students also come to our universities from other countries to study the Vedas and our ancient Hindu traditions.
Unfortunately, not every Indian is able to realise the value of the customs and traditions, and the significance of Hinduism in his own country, in fact, some are tempted towards the habits and lifestyle of western culture, and an aspiration for a better life, so are migrating to these western countries where they will die as orphans as it is not their motherland. What we cannot achieve and enjoy here in this country we cannot get in any other. Despite being able to earn a good living abroad, some people come back to our country with nothing left in the hand – neither peace nor property. The parents of those who do go away to a foreign country, send their children off with a lot of things from India: pickles, chutneys, rasam powder etc., so that they can prepare their food in the traditional Indian way. This separation of the family is not a happy situation for the parents as it is creating both micro families, and a whole change in lifestyle. No one benefits from this; neither the person himself, nor the country. If one’s roots are here then one belongs to this country, and one cannot discard one’s identity.
[Baba narrated a story to explain this].
There was once a young man who went to a guru (a Swamiji) and said that, with his (the guru’s) blessings, he had passed his graduation. He told the guru that he had come for guidance regarding his further education. The Guru asked the young man what he was interested in doing, and the young man said that he wanted to go to America. The guru then asked him what he will do when he gets to America, to which the young boy replied that his intention was to study for the M.S. degree. The guru then questioned him as to what he will do after that, and the boy answered that he would then go and search for a job. Once again the guru asked the boy what next? The boy replied that, like everyone else, he’d get married, have children and thereby take care of them. After listening to all this, the Guru then asked, what, after achieving all this, would he do. The boy said that he would eventually die like any other person. The guru told the boy that if one has to ultimately die, then what`s the big deal in going to America? You might as well die here in your motherland, at least then you can get some good merit, and, perhaps, you may even, with divine grace, get the chance of liberation.
Coming back to the greatness of our country, Unity in Diversity is practiced here, and stands as a role model to the entire world. It means we don`t differentiate between people because of their religion, and all those who live here do so in harmony. The actual name of this country is HINDU desam (country). It was later to become known as India. To know about its purity, Baba compared it with the river Ganga in Kaasi (aka Varanasi). Kaasi is a very famous place of pilgrimage in the state of Uttarakhand. From ancient times, the Rishis have said that those who visit Kaasi (Lord Shiva`s temple), and take a dip in the holy river Ganga, will have all his sins washed away, and he attains liberation. Such is the belief about Kaasi and the river Ganga. It is an abode of purity; a great river that flows through our country, and we should be proud to be Hindus; to be Indians.
In the Hindu culture, we can see God in all of nature: in the rocks, the air, and also in fire. We attribute the God Varuna for the rain, Agni as the fire God, and Vayu as the God of air, so divinity becomes a part of the day to day lifestyle, making it easy for the spiritual seeker to see God everywhere and anywhere. In other countries children have names of stones and birds also, but the speciality of India is that here we are given the names of various Hindu Gods. Even though a person may be an atheist, he will still have his name as one of the Gods. Such is the Hindu culture and tradition. This is an easy way to chant the name of God again and again by calling each other by their names.
God is everywhere; He is omnipresent being above, below, and around us; to our left and to our right. Hinduism teaches us to visualize God as present everywhere, so if God is present everywhere: in air, water and sunlight, in our good and bad deeds, and in both heaven and hell, is He then not present in our SEVA i.e., service?
If we go back to the Treta, Kruta and Dwapara Yugas, we see that both Lord Krishna and Lord Rama preached peace (shanthi), love (prema) and righteousness (dharma, or doing one`s duty). In the sacred book of Hindu mythology, the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna Himself made a promise that whenever and wherever Dharma is violated or damaged He will descend to earth to reinstate Dharma.
Instead of following the old customs and rituals of praying to God, Sai devotees must follow the new path of spirituality which leads us to liberation. Instead of whiling away time in unnecessary gossip, we should try to render whatever service we can to other people, and if you serve your fellow man it is like serving God Himself. If He is satisfied and happy with our service then He showers, not only us with His abundant blessings, but also our kith and kin. He will fulfill all our desires, and even grant liberation. Everything is in His Hands as He is the creator, and everything is in His control.
This is the easiest and most flexible way to attain liberation, or salvation, in our own life time. What does it matter to us whether we are in heaven or hell after our death? Whilst we are busy thinking about something we don`t know anything about, there are always those who are in need of our service. They are like the deities (celestial beings) who receive our service, and, from the merit that we accrue, bestow on us the blessings, which in turn leads to liberation. If they are not there we will not achieve any of these.
Everyone thinks of going to heaven after death, but do you know what heaven is? It is a state where one no longer suffers from any thirst or hunger, and nor does one have to do anything. After a certain amount of time though, one gets vexed and will be waiting to come back to this world to take birth in a Hindu country.
In India we have more than 1000 TV channels, causing confusion as to which one to watch. We get spoilt with so much choice, comforts and luxuries that we no longer feel satisfied. Why is it that we run after these things when we could have our own heaven on earth here, and be happy? Our stay in heaven is limited to the merit we have accrued, and once this has been used up, we take on rebirth and return to this world once again. So why don`t we search for a place which is like heaven on earth; where we can do service to the poor and needy beyond the limitations of caste, creed or religion, and from where we can experience peace and bliss? That is nothing other than heaven on earth, and can be enjoyed whilst we are still alive. The amount of happiness and satisfaction we derive from this cannot be described in words as what we experience is the state of oneness with God. There is no such place in heaven, or even in all the seven different worlds of this creation, that can compare with this.
[Baba narrated a story].
There once was a fox which did severe penance for God, and God was so pleased by this that He appeared before it. He asked the fox if it had any wish. The fox replied that it wanted a state where it had no thirst or hunger. Then God asked it why it would wish for something like that as after sometime it would become vexed with this state, and want to do penance again to get back the thirst and hunger. The best option would have been to be happy with what it already had, but the fox insisted that it wanted the boon of no hunger or thirst. So God granted the fox its wish, and then promptly disappeared. By getting the boon, the fox became completely unmotivated to do anything. Whilst all the other animals were busy hunting for their food, the fox just lay down and became very lazy as it had no need to hunt since it had no hunger. Just as God had foretold earlier, out of boredom, the fox performed penance again, and prayed to God to give it back its original nature of hunger and thirst. Likewise, if you don`t have any hunger why do you need to have a family and children. So whilst on this earth and in the material world, let us do service to mankind, which is service to God. Instead of thinking about the different ways of doing spiritual practices, in the hope of gaining liberation, the best way is to serve our fellow man.
We should be welcoming to all the other religions, and treat them with due respect. It is important that the youth should not be tempted towards the lifestyle of other countries, nor should they migrate to other countries for the purpose of earning more money. Instead, they should focus on the progress and development of their own country and fellow countrymen, and cherish their own rich heritage and culture. India is always well known for its unity in diversity, so we must overcome the barriers of caste, creed and religion, and build a healthy and happy society.
I bless everyone to lead a healthy, happy, prosperous and peaceful life in this world.