Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Meditation on Guru - As explained by Shirdi Sai Baba

Om Shri Satchitanand Sadguru SaiNath Maharaj Ki Jai.

Devotion, worship and meditation, if we look through Sai Satcharitra and Sai Baba’s teachings, one most essential ingredient we find is love. Love for the ‘SadGuru’ or ‘love for Divine’ or ‘love for a form of God or Goddesses’.

Due to common misconceptions with meditation, many might think. Meditation and love? Most people are likely to take meditation with either concentration or relaxation, peace of mind, rejuvenation. It is very unlikely that love would come to mind as a part of meditation.

Shirdi Sai used to say, “Our ways are different.” Let us see one of them. In Shri Sai SatCharitra we receive the teaching on meditation, from the mouth of the Master Himself, the story describing the love between Him and His guru. So let’s go through this story which Sai Baba told to an old woman, desperately seeking a mantra for her spiritual progress

Shri Sai called her and  said, “Mother, why do you sit so adamantly observing a fast? Why do you think giving up life thus?” Here we note that although the lady was adamant and was a cause of worry for many devotees, Baba called her with affection and respect.

It will be interesting to note that Baba always addressed old grown up ladies as Mother. Whatever their status of social, cast or creed. Guru Sai charmingly addressed elderly gentlemen as ‘Kaka’, ‘Bapu’ or ‘Bhai’. All names denotes affection with respect in the local language Marathi. Affectionate as His heart was, His words too were melodious. Sai is the protector of the meek and Sai is compassionate towards the afflicted and the suffering. 

So Baba called her and made her sit in front of Him in Masjid (Dwarkamai). Sai then passed to her the secret key to His greatness. Let us imbibe the showers of blissful Self-rejoicing,  from the divine compassionate rain that showered from Baba, the bliss and knowledge incarnate.

I will tell you a wonderful story which will give you great happiness.

Really unique is the way Baba talked. He is Satguru, He is the one to whom so many go for refuge. He is the one in whose presence so many feels the bliss and get the taste of divine world. He affectionately said, "Mother tell me truly! Why do you inflict so much pain on yourself? I am but a Fakir, who goes round for morsel of food. Be kind to me! Really I am your son and you are my mother. Listen to me. I will tell you a wonderful story which will give you great happiness."

The story begins with characteristics of Guru and immediately He also shows characteristic of a sincere disciple(in this story Himself) or devotee. In this whole story we will go through the required and essential characteristics of both the Guru and the devotee or disciple more often.

Baba continues to tell the story, “You see my Guru was an ocean of compassion. I went on serving Him, till I was exhausted, but He did not whisper any mantra in my ears. I too had a strong desire never to give up His refuge and receive a mantra from His own mouth, even it meant a prolonged effort.

What did Sai Baba’s Guru ask for? (required for Meditation on Baba)

“Initially He tricked me and asked for two pice. Those I gave him at once and prayed and earnestly requested for the letter of mantra. My guru was fully satiated in all desires. What did he want two pice for? And how can I call him free of desires who asks disciple for money? But not such a thought trouble your mind. His idea was not to get money in the worldly sense. What had he to do with the money or gold? Shraddha and Saburi (Firm faith and patient endurance) were the two coins --- nothing else. I immediately gave them to Him, My guru my mother was pleased with me.”

Shraddha - Saburi (Meaning and Explanation)

Saburi (Forbearance and Patience)

“Courage, O Mother, is really same as this forbearance and patience. Never cast it away.  When faced with difficult situations, this Saburi will safely carry you to shore. The courage of Saburi overcomes sin, suffering and adversity. It averts dangers and drives away fear, ingenuously. It cuts away calamities in all directions. The thoughtless indiscretion prick no one here. Saburi (Forbearance) is a mine of Virtue and it is the queen of noble and virtuous thought.”


“Faith that is constant, that never turns aside is twin sister of Saburi. Both are dearer to each other than life itself.  Without Saburi or patience (forbearance), the plight of a man is pitiful. His life is futile even if he is a learned Pundit (scholar) or virtuous man. Without Shraddha (Faith) and Saburi (Patience) his life is futile.”

What does a Guru expects from disciple?

“Himself the Guru may be very powerful, but from disciple he expects only a penetrating insight, unwavering faith in the Guru and the strength of a courageous forbearance.”

“Just as a stone and a gem, both goes through a cleansing when rubbed against the levigating slab. The stone remains the stone, but the gem becomes a brilliant sparkling gem. Both goes through the same polishing process, yet the stone cannot acquire the sparkling quality of a gem. Can a stone become a diamond? The stone at the most will become glossy and smooth according to it’s properties.”

Sai Baba’s Guru’s Love (Here we can see by meditating on Baba we receive His love, our devotion gets enriched and also we get protection and guidance)
“And so, for twelve years I remained at Guru’s Charan (Holy feet). He reared me as a child as I grew up. There was no dearth of food and clothes and His heart was emitting love for me. He was the very image of love and devotion. His affection for disciple was genuine. Rare indeed is a Guru like mine. I cannot describe the bliss I enjoyed in His company. Oh, how can I describe His love. As I looked at His face, my eyes would be absorbed in meditation, giving us both an experience of bliss. To look at anything else, I just did not know. I lovingly gazed at His face day and night. I knew no hunger and not thirst. Without my Guru I would get restless.

Sai Baba’s love for His Guru

“Except Him, I could not meditate on anything else. There was no other objective for me. My Guru alone, was my constant goal. Truly, the skill of the Guru is simply marvelous!”

Guru’s expectations

“My guru expected only this, He desired nothing more than this. He never treated me with indifference or unconcern but always protected me in my troubles.”

Guru’s Nazar or graceful glance.

“Sometimes I was allowed to remain at His feet and sometimes beyond the shores of the sea. But never did I lose the joy of His company. He was looking after me very kindly. As the mother-tortoise feeds her little ones with her loving glance, so was the way of my Guru. He looked after the child with loving glances.”

“Mother accept it as truth what I tell you, sitting here in the Masjid(Dwarkamai). If the Guru did not whispered Mantra in my ear. How can I whisper it in yours?”

Love in the Guru’s grace is enough

“Love in the the mother’s gaze is enough to bring happiness and contentment to the little tortoises. Mother, why do you make yourself miserable? I really know no other instructions. The mother tortoise in on the river bank. Her little ones are in the desert on the other. They are nurtured and reared only on glances. So why persist in futile efforts for a mantra?”

Steadfast faith in Sai Baba - for the spiritual progress.

“You go and eat something. Do not put your life at risk."

  •  "Only have steadfast faith in Me and spiritual progress will happen.” 
  • “You look up to me with single minded devotion and I will look after you.”
  • “My Guru never taught me anything else. It is not necessary to know the elaborated means of Knowledge. Nor is the proficiency in six Shastras needed.” 
  • “There should be a steadfast faith that Guru alone is the protector and destroyer.”

Significance of Guru

“Hence is the great significance of Guru. He is the very image of Brahma, Hari (Vishnu) and Har(Shiva). Blessed is he, in all the three worlds, who realizes this important position of Guru.”

In this way, the words spoken from Baba’s mouth in His divine presence made a deep impression on the heart of the old lady and she ended her vow.

However, it does not end here for us. There is lot for us, ahead. This story was narrated to Hemadpant, the author of Shri Sai SatChartra by Shama. Once while Hemadpant was pressing Baba’s holy feet. He learnt about Shri Sai’s grace bestowed on Mr. Sathe after one reading of Guru Charitra. How Sai blessed him by appearing in his dream and asked him to do one more parayan and that would help him. Sathe could not understand the meaning of this dream. So he urged Kaka Saheb Dixit to go to Baba and ask about the significance of dream to Guru Himself. So, seizing and opportunity, Kaka narrated Sathe’s dream to Baba and requested for the significance of Sathe’s vision from Sai’s own mouth. 

What Baba Sai said about the Parayan.

Sai replied, “Let there be one more reading. By reading this sacred story of Guru, the devotee becomes pure. By Reading the pothi (Sacred stories of Guru) you will achieve your own good. God will be pleased and you will become free from bondage and worldly life.”

Agitation in Hemadpant’s mind.

Listening to this, Hemadpant mind got a little restless even in presence of Sadguru Sai Baba. He thought that he has been reading (doing the parayanas) this sacred literature since 40 years. Comparison sprang up in his mind.

He thought “Strange are Baba’s ways! Sathe’s small effort bore fruit in seven days, while I have spent years together! Sathe did only one Parayan in seven days, and there is no consideration for the one who has been reading it for forty years?”

“One enjoys the fruit in 7 days while the other spends many fruitless years?” When will the day come when the greatest of the Saints will satisfy my fond wish? Will He ever give me spiritual instruction?”

One of the strange and sure ways of teachings of Sai Baba. 
No sooner did these thoughts cross Hemadpant’s mind, Sai knew it. As stated above Baba’s ways of guiding the devotees are strange and unpredictable. He wanted to impart very important teaching to Hemadpant and we, the devotees to come across this story.

So He told him, “Get up and go to Shamya (Madhavrao Despande) and bring fifteen rupees from him. Sit with him for a while, talk to each other about things. Then come back soon, bringing the dakshina that he gives.

Not wanting to add disobedience to the Guru’s word. Hemadpant immediately left the Masjid (Dwarkamai) and set off for Shama’s house. There this story was revealed for the good of Hemadpant and all readers of this story to come.

As this story got over, Hemadpant was taken over by some spiritual ecstasies. He writes in Sai SatCharitra that after seeing this leela of Sai Baba his throat was chocked with joy; He was overcome by profound love. The excellent lesson was deeply imprinted on his mind.

What happened in Shirdi every afternoon in Shirdi?

Daily before the afternoon meals, devotees would go and sit in Dwarkamai and did elaborate ritualistic pooja. This pooja included washing of Baba’s holy feet with water, applying sandalwood paste, showering on him consecrated rice etc.,

After this Bapusaheb Jog use to perform ‘Pancharati’ with loving devotion, all the other devotees joined in singing the arati with love and devotion.

A huge bell in Dwarkamai would begin to clang loudly, indicating to the villagers and the devotees that the afternoon arati is about to begin. Both Hemadpant and Shama herd the  loud clanging of the bell and were drawn towards the Dwarkamai.

Little description about after-noon arati in Shirdi during those days.

The arati was performed in noon by men and women together. Females occupied the mosque above, and gentlemen in the open Sabha-mandap below. With great joy they would sing the arati at the top of their voices. Drum-beats and other festive musical instruments accompanied their voices.

When Hemadpant and Shama reached Dwarkamai, the arati was loudly in progress. The Sabha-mandap was crowded by male devotees, leaving no room for anybody to climb up the steps of Dwarkamai. Hemadpant thought of waiting for the arati to complete and then approach Baba along with other devotees. As he was thinking in this manner, Shama had pierced the crowd and climbed up the Dwarkamai. He held Hemadpant’s hand and pulled him upwards, took him straight to Baba.

Baba’s behavior during the after-noon arati.

Baba sat on His own usual place smoking a Chillum, leisurely. In front of him stood Jog, waving the pancharati and tinkling the small bell held in his hand.

Shama in the joyous spirit of the arati sat himself in front of Shri Sai and made Hemadpant sit at Baba’s right hand side facing Him.

As the arati was going on loudly, Sadguru Sai the Gem among the Saints, the Peace Incarnate said to Hemadpant, ‘Bring here the dakshina Shyamrao has given for me.’

Also eagerness to listen to Hemadpant is a leela of Sai. He knew beforehand what had happened. Still, to give us all very important teachings He asked Hemadpant so that He could throw more light with His words, which even today devotees such as us can imbibe and be benefited.

Hemadpant replied that Shyamarao himself was there, and he had sent he has given 15 salutations instead of dakshina, which are in themselves 15 Rupees and should be offered to Baba. 

Baba said, “All right. Did you talk with each other? Did you converse? Tell me now, in detail, what you talked about. Let the tale of salutations be. But did you talk to him? About what? And how? Tell me everything. “

The arati was being sung loudly, yet Baba was eager to listen to the story and Hemadpant also eager to narrate the same. He could hardly contain the great joy within and it flowed from his mouth unrestrained.

Baba who sat leaning against the cushion, now leaned forward to listen. Hemadpant put his face forward and began to narrate the story.

He said, ‘Baba, all that we talked there delighted my heart much. But among them the story of the lady was really marvelous. As Shyamarao narrated the story, I got aware of your inconceivable ways of imparting grace and knowledge. It was as if You most certainly confirmed your grace on me, under the pretext of this story.’

Baba then replied most eagerly, “Tell me, tell me this whole story. Let us see what is so wonderful about it and how through it I conferred grace upon you!”

The story was freshly heard by Hemadpant, moreover it had made a strong impression on his mind. So he narrated it to Baba. Sai looked very pleased to listen to this story.

The Guru listened the story attentively. At once He said, “Keep this carefully in mind.”
Again He asked enthusiastically, “How sweet is the story you have just heard! But is it impressed on your mind? Have you found it really meaningful?”

‘Baba after listening to this story, I feel at peace with myself. The doubts and distress have disappeared.’

Baba throws more light on Meditation.

Are not our ways unique! 

“Are not our ways unique!” said Baba. Remember this one thing it will be very useful to you. “Knowledge of Atma based on one’s experience, is gained by meditating on it single-mindedly. Such meditation itself is the act of propitiating it. It alone brings self satisfaction.

“Become first free from all desires. The Almighty dwelling in all creatures should then be brought to the mind. The meditation then will be satisfactory and objective of life will be achieved.”

“Know that - That which is Knowledge Incarnate. or Supreme Pure Consciousness or Blissful Joy (Sat Chit Anand) ---- that is my true nature. So meditate on it regularly.”

If this is not possible

“If this is not possible, then meditate on my manifest Form. Bring to the mind, by day and by night, my figure from head to toe with all it’s attributes.”

What will happen by doing this meditation

Baba continues, “Meditating on me in this way, your mind will gradually concentrate so closely that the distinction between the meditation, the meditator and the object of Meditation (Baba, Guru, or God) will cease to exist.”

“In this way, when this triputi (trinity), the meditator will experience the Pure Supreme Consciousness. This is a be-all and end of all meditation, for you will become one with Brahman.”

The tender Glance of Guru, or Nazar of grace is the nourishment of Self-rejoicing
Baba continues, “ The mother-tortoise is on the this bank of river; her young ones are on the other, without milk warmth and affection. It is merely the loving glances of the mother that nourish and fattens the off-springs.”

What is needed from young ones or meditator?

Baba continues, “The young ones are always intent on the mother; they need do nothing else. They require no milk, no grass, no food. To gaze at the mother itself is their sole nourishment.”

“The tender glance of mother (Gurus grace or Nazar) is like the shower of nectar (amrit) which brings the nourishment of Self-rejoicing in the little off-springs. Same is the experience of oneness of Guru and disciple.”

As soon as these precious words fell out of Baba’s mouth the loud voices of Arati singing and musical instruments ceased. The waving of lamps and other ritualistic details of arati were over. Everyone in unison in a loud voice proclaimed, “Shree SatChitAnand Sadguru Saintah Maharaj ki Jai.”

Jog as was his daily practice, put a handful of lump sugar in Baba’s hand with obeisance, to which Sai put out his palm and received it. This whole of the lump of sugar Baba emptied in the hand of Hemadpant and said, “If you bear this well in mind, your condition will be as this sugar-candy. As this sugar-candy is sweet, similarly the wishes of heart will be fulfilled and you will be blessed with the good fortune. All your innermost longing will be satisfied.”

Hemadpant then with devotion and gratitude bowed to Baba, praying for His grace, and said, ‘This divine help alone is enough for me! Please support me!”

What is the significance of the story for us?

Baba said, “Listen to the story, think on it with attention, and meditate on it repeatedly. As a result of this remembrance and thoughtful attention, greatest joy will manifest itself. In this way, that which you herd with your ears (for us what we read and visualized) , if you store in your heart, you will have open up yourself a mine of your own riches of well-being and all your sins will be washed away.”

“When there is a fierce wind s blowing, the waves of the sea gets elevated and gains imposing height, that dash against the shore, instantly breaking in innumerable bubbles that appears as froth. The waves, the bubbles, the froth and the eddies - all are but the different forms of same water. They are like optical illusions which disappears when the wind subsides. Can it be said these various forms have existed and destroyed? Knowing them to be work if Maya, their existence and being destroyed should also be treated as such. Such are also the dealings of the Universe. The wise and the discriminating has no admiration for them. They have no attachment to that which passes with time, but attain the permanent.” 

“The importance of meditation is greater than that of knowledge. But for that, the right knowledge of the object of meditation is needed. Thus, without complete understanding of Brahman, proper meditation is not possible. Therefore through experience, proper knowledge of Atma is the basis of meditation. It is also the Karma or act of gaining favor from the True Self. 

“But how can you bring to the mind or meditate upon that which is without qualities and attributes? He is hidden from us. Therefore the inner most self is God Himself and He who is God is also Guru. There is no the slightest difference between these three (Innermost Sef, God and Guru). “

What is Samadhi? 

“When the repeated contemplation becomes perfect, and the difference between the meditation, the one who meditates and the  one meditated upon disappears. Then the mind becomes calm and steady, Like the lamp in windless night. This is Samadhi. Free from all desires, and knowing that he dwells in all living beings, that ‘Nothing exist in world but I’, when a state of fearlessness comes, it is then that the real self appears in the meditation. Then the ties of karma, born out of ignorance begin to snap, one by one; the restraints of laws about what should and what should not be done are shed away. The joy of complete liberation is experienced. To experience the oneness of self of in all beings is the utmost limit of all knowledge. Liberation and Bliss are born from such knowledge. 

Even if you bring a skilled orator like Brihaspati, to describe an elephant to a blind man. Still his oratory will not bring the form of elephant to a blind man’s mind. What is beyond description cannot be explained by speech. Eyes alone are needed to see the form of an elephant. Without eyes how can a blind man have an experience of seeing an elephant. Similarly, only when the Guru gives the Divine Eye, one can experience Sat Chit Aanand (knowledge).


Unknown said...

Dear Sai Bandhu!

May I request u to send the same in telugu script, we can understood very easily, for which of action I shall be grateful to u.
Siva Rao Ayyagari

Alpesh Patel said...

Om Sai Ram,

You may get Shri Sai SatCharitra verse to verse translation in Telugu if available, else from abridged version also you may read chapters 18 and 19. To get insights on what Baba suggested for meditating on Guru or Himself.

Unknown said...

Such a wonderful sayings BABA preached to the common people of the world, follow Sai BABA and become one of he devotees and Chant Sai Baba Bhajans and get the blessings of Sai Baba.

Best regards,
Suresh B P

Mukti Jean said...

I am very grateful that you explore the topics so thouroughly.

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