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The Sai Religion

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Divine Discourse;
Dasara: Prasanthi Nilayam: October 1, 1976
Sanathana Sarathi issue Nov. 1976

Whom the Muslims adore as Allah, whom the Christians adore as Jehovah, whom the Vaishnavas adore as Phullabja-aksha, whom the Saivites adore as Sambhu, who grants, in answer to their several prayers, health, long life, prosperity and happiness to all, wherever they may be, He, the One God, is the God of all mankind.

Bharath has been , since ages, teaching the message of the spirit and the means to gain and ensure equanimity and joy. She has stood forth as the preceptor of the world for centuries. The prayer that Bharath has taught to its people is , "Lokaas samasthaas sukhino bhavanthu (May all people everywhere be happy)". This is the consummation pictured in the thoughts of the Hindus, from ancient times. This wholesome ideal was propagated and fostered by the rulers of this land, the seers and yogis who guided the populace and the chaste mothers who reared the generations in the atmosphere of spiritual effort.

But when the country was involved in the vicissitudes of history and the people were subjected to pressures and counter-pressures, the ideal suffered set-back; the abstractions of faith received concrete form and get crystallized into specific identifiable names and forms; each new attitude, or aptitude, each new concretisation, became a special sect, every theory got enveloped in its own shell. Thus, the One Vedic Religion, became a parent of a number of sects and sets of belief, like Ganapathya (centering around the concept of Ganapathi), Saaktheya ( centering around the concept of Cosmic Energy as the expression of the Divine), Soura (centering around the Sun as the Source, Sustenance and Goal of Spiritual Achievement ), the Charvaka (centering around the concept of Pleasure and material prosperity) and Veerasaiva (centering around Siva, as the Inner Motivator of all beings). Every one of these sects and many more besides elaborated its own rituals and modes of worship, its own priorities in spiritual attainments and it own body of doctrines about the Individual, the Objective World and God.

The purpose of these codes and modes was, in all cases, to purify the mind and insist on the practice of high moral virtues. But, this was soon ignored and importance came to be attached to superficial conformity and outer purity. The craving for personal aggrandizement and personal power made the sect or faith or religion, rigid and dry. There is a great need today to discover the inner spring of all faiths, the spring that fertilizes the outer rites and ceremonies. A little quiet study will reveal that this is an undercurrent of moral enthusiasm and spiritual adventure.

The word for religion generally used is Matha; the word to indicate the Mind is Mathi. Putting the two together it can be said that Matha is primarily engaged or ought to be engaged in straightening and strengthening the Mathi. The goal, the purpose, the key, the essence of all creeds, faiths and religions are this: the sublimation of the mind or the consciousness of man so that it can guarantee liberation for the individual concerned and happiness for the society of which he is a unit. Principles and practices have grouped around this prime need and creeds are the result.

Religions attempt to impart holy ideals in the heart of man. But, man does not allow them to sprout and grow. His egoistic craving for power and competitive success has in most cases persuaded him to use religion as an instrument of torture and persecution. Instead of uniting mankind in a common endeavor, it has become a system of walled enclosures, guarded by hate and fanaticism. So, each religion is an armed camp. Sunk in self aggrandizement, trying to wean others into itself and preventing defections from it. Religion, therefore, is being condemned as the root of chaos and conflict. In spite of great progress in many other areas of life, religious animosity is aflame even today in many parts of the world.

It has to be emphasized that religion is not the root cause of this state of affairs. The factious fights and fanatic hatred are due to the unruly ego hat is given free play. Religion tries to destroy just this vicious tendency; so, it has to be supported, not condemned. What has to be condemned is the narrow, perverted attitude of hating those who do not agree with us or who hold different opinions of the mysterious Force that animates the Universe. Religious wars and conflicts breed in the slime of ignorance and avarice. When people are blind to the truth that the human family is one indivisible unity, they grope in the dark and afraid of strange touch. The cultivation of Love alone can convince man of this Truth, that there is only one caste, the Caste of humanity, and only one Religion, the Religion of Love. Since no religion upholds violence or despises love, it is wrong to ascribe the chaos to religion.

It is also not advisable to engage in campaigns of vilification or exaggerated propagation of any religion, with a view to draw votaries. If only each lives the ideals propounded by the Founders of their religion, unaffected by greed or hate, the world will be a happier and more peaceful habitation for man.

The religion of the Hindus stressed the Unity of all Creation, and declare that the diversity we experience is not the genuinely true picture. But, since faith in the One comes into awareness only to a mind clarified to the utmost, the religion had soon to posit duality, and even multiplicity, with deities for every facet of the Whole. The most widespread of these dualities is the Saivite and Vaishnavite faiths, centered around the Siva and Vishnu aspects of the One. This process of splitting into diverse viewpoints has taken place in all the major religions. Islam has Shia and the Sunni sects; Christianity has its Catholics and Protestants. But, however deep the cleavage, no sect denies God and no sect extols violence and falsehood. Names may be different; the facets emphasizes maybe different; but the Almighty Providence is denoted as Absolute and Eternal. The terminology maybe different, but the Concept is not different. Bhagavan is referred to as Allah; prayer may be called Namaz; pundits may be known as khajis; scholars may be hailed as Mullahs. The Veda may be in the form of the Holy Quran. But, the undercurrent of energizing power in all cases is love, Love of all Beings, towards all beings. The Founders have ever in view the Unity of all Life and the progressive march of man from mere humanness to the heights of Divinity.

The first among the interpreters of the Vedas to found a school of philosophy and lay down the path of spiritual discipline to benefit from that school is Sankaracharya, born in the Kerala state; during his very short life, he established on secure foundation of logic and intuition, the truth that there is only One and that all else is an appearance on the One reality. This is the "No-two’ or the adwaitha philosophy and faith, that explains the Individual, nature and God in perfect harmony. The Vedic axioms - Ekhoham Bahusyaam (I am One, let me become many), Iswaras sarva bhoothaanaam (God is immanent in all), Isaavaasyan sarvam idam (All this is enveloped and penetrated by God) - are thus illumined by the intellect of Sankaracharya into patent truths.

Monism as propounded by Sankaracharya on the basis of Vedic texts was of course too simple a solution to satisfy the inner urges of the majority of individuals. They had in them the yearning to worship; to dedicate themselves to a higher power; they could not grasp their inner Reality being the One and Only. Their emotions and activities had to be sublimated by discipline and devotion. Therefore, Ramanujacharya commented upon the Vedic texts and religious scriptures from a new point of view. This made the adwaitha take on a special outlook. So it was called Visishta(Special) Adwaitha. The path of devotion was laid down to take man to the mergence with god. The goal is mergence as the rivers know and strive for. The waters of the sea are raised by the Sun up into the sky as clouds and the clouds pour them as rain on highland and low land to flow back into the sea through many a ravine, stream and tributary-fed river. Merging with the Source from which one took name and form is the ultimate destiny. The river has the passion of overwhelming Love which leads it down the slopes until it reaches the Loved one, where the Lover, Loved and Love, all three merge in one Illuminating Ecstasy. Prema is the attachment to God, that does not allow anything to interfere or diminish its quality or depth. God is loved by the Bhaktha, for His sake, and not for any incidental benefit or blessing. It is spontaneous, sustaining and sublime, like a child before the mirror, enjoying the reflections of its own pranks and gestures.

Complete surrender to the extent of the annihilation of one’s own individuality is also beyond most aspirants. Sugar cannot be tasted and enjoyed by sugar; you have to be an ant, so that you can revel in the sweetness of the stuff. This craving of man was sought to satisfied by Madhwacharya, who declared that the Jivi or Individual will ever remain separate from the Universal and there can be no merging. In Adwaitha, a flash of intellectual illumination reveals that the Atma alone exists and that all else is deluding appearance. The Visishtadwaitha posits that the river I an integral part of the sea. Dwaitha points out that the joy derived from adoration and worship is enough to draw the fulfilling Grace of God.

There were other seers too who laid down paths towards the same goal. He announced that the universe belongs to God and man should not desire to accumulate or appropriate any portion of the Divine Treasure. He advised that the sapling of devotion must be protected from the perils of sloth, doubt and fanaticism by the cultivation of valor and vigilance.

Of the major religions, I may mention one, namely, Buddhism. He was so agonized by the suffering that haunts the life of man that he investigated the behavior of mind and intellect of man and discovered remedial disciplines. He analyzed the vagaries of the mind, which leads man into the whirlpools of desire; he analyzed the ways of reason too and spotted the areas where prejudices take root. He required surrender to Dharma (above all, the virtue of compassion) and to Buddha (the enlightened individual). The religion that was rendered an all-India movement by Mahavira, Jainism, extols Jina, or the heroic conqueror of the senses, the emotions and the stratagems of the intellect. He called upon all to carry out the duties inherent to their status and profession with steady faith and enthusiasm. He declared that all things and beings are divine in their own right and are but pilgrims on the road to Realization. Any injury inflicted on any of them is an intervention in that sacred journey and so has to be scrupulously avoided.

Zorostrianism or the Parsi religion was founded by Zoroaster, who wanted that man should ever have the Fire of Wisdom, blazing in his consciousness, so that evil thoughts and tendencies might be reduced to ashes. It has to infuse all thoughts, words and deeds with the illumination of virtue and vigor. The fire of wisdom must destroy all worldly desires and render man pure for entry into the heaven of freedom. Adoration, meditation and acts of selfless service are essential for the dawn of enlightenment.

The Sai Religion, if the name of religion in its literal sense of binding man to God is accepted, is the essence of all faiths and religions, including those I had no time to dwell upon, like Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The motive behind the formation and propagation of all these different faiths is the same, in all cases. The founders and propagators were all filled with Love and Wisdom. Their goal, their target, their aim were all the same. No one had the design to divide, disturb, destroy. They attempted to do good, see good and be good. They sought to train the passions and the emotions, to educate the impulse and instincts, and direct the faculty of reason to paths beneficial to the individual and society. They knew that the mind which is the breeding ground of desire and attachment, ambition and aspiration, has to be cleansed and properly oriented.

Sai considers that the practice of these disciplines is much more essential than the blind faith in a bunch of philosophical theories. No one has right to advise others unless he is already practicing what h preaches. First, establish the reign of Love in your own home, between the various members. Let the family become a centre of harmonious living, of sympathetic understanding, and mutual faith. The holy duty of man is to ever aware of the Atma that is installed in every living being; this will make him conscious of the kinship he has with all. This is the basis of the Brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of god. Cast away the vice of egoism, the evil of greed and the poison of envy. When you seek joy from something outside you, remember that far greater joy lies in wait in your own inner consciousness; when you are afraid of something or situation outside you, remind yourself that the fear is born, fed and fertilized in your own mind and you can overcome it by denying it. How can fear counter the path of a spiritual aspirant? It can hide in no shadow, it can pester no Sadhak who has God in his heart. Faith in Almighty God is the impregnable armor the Sadhak can wear, and men in all lands are Sadhaks, whether they know it or not. Be steady, do not waver. Keep straight on. Hold fast to the ideal; do not despair. Pray until God relents; do not turn away sadly if God does not shower Grace when you expect it.

When each Religion plans to extend its influence, it has to resort to vilification of others and exaggeration of its own excellences. Pomp and publicity become more important than practice and faith. But, Sai wants that the votaries of each must cultivate faith in its own excellences and realize their validity by their own intense practice. This is the Sai Religion, the Religion that feeds and fosters all Religions and emphasizes their common greatness. Take up this religion boldly and joyfully.