Thrill and thrall in Mirthipadu
It was the 2nd of September, 1958. Daybreak in the little village of Mirthipadu brought great joy and excitement to all the ryots there. The cause for the joy was the visit of a magical being, one considered by all the villagers as the incarnation of God. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was on an intense tour of many villages in Andhra Pradesh and He had arrived at the idyllic, little Mirthipadu in the East Godavari district. People had trekked miles from all the nearby villages to see Him and hear Him speak. Swami, as Baba was lovingly and reverentially called, exuded the same joy and excitement which was evident in the first few lines of His discourse,
“Today, I am really full of joy for I have before Me people who are engaged in hardy toil and who sacrifice their personal comforts in order to make others happy. What the world needs is work done in that spirit. Every man has divinity embedded in him, as well as Truth and sweetness.”
He was addressing the people in the village who mainly depended on agriculture as the source of their livelihood and life. He had decided to bestow these simple village folk with the easiest and simplest way out of all troubles and travails, difficulties and disasters. It was an open secret that He would divulge - something that He had divulged to so many before. However, He would package the same secret today in a sweet manner so that everyone accepted it and benefited from the same. People often think that complex problems have complex solutions unlike simple problems. Swami would teach the Truth that there was a single solution to all problems, simple or complex, and that solution was quite simple.
But before we go into Swami’s message on that day, it is time for a short story, a Chinna Katha as Swami would call it, which He has narrated on many occasions with slight differences in the details.
Fulfillment of every desire - the road to happiness?
There was this person Ramu whose wish it was to become a rich, powerful, influential and important person. He was ready to go to any extent to achieve his ends. Even as he led his life in constant pursuit of what he thought was happiness, he came across a sage - a holy man. It was actually the sage who came across Ramu during his wanderings, in the course of which he had arrived to Ramu’s village.
With his ‘sage’ counsel, the holy man seemed to possess the ability to bring peace of mind to almost anybody and everybody. With burning passion in his belly and great ambition in his mind, Ramu went up to the sage and bowed to him.
“What is it that your seek my child?”, the question was accompanied by a smile.
“Ah! It will take me at least a day to reel out my list O sage! But if you are ready to spare at least an hour for me, I could possibly manage to give you an idea about all that I want.” The answer was accompanied by an even larger smile.
In an instant, the sage had understood what ailed Ramu. It was a sort of disease that most men he met during his wanderings suffered from. Without further ado, the sage told him,
“I need not listen to you Ramu. (How did he know his name?) I know what you long for. Let me assure you, all that you seek will be yours.”
“And pray how is that possible?” Ramu asked
“I shall gift you a powerful genie. The genie is capable of fulfilling all your desires. All you have to do is just ask!”
“Wow! That is exactly the kind of blessing that I would have liked Gurudev”, said Ramu whose words suddenly seemed to ooze respect, “If you can just let me know when and where will I meet this magical genie...”
“Very soon Ramu. But may you be forewarned. The genie has to be kept busy always. Make sure that it is always fulfilling some desire of yours; acting on your words and doing some work. For, if the genie ever gets idle, it will rush to you and eat you up!”
“Ah! Don’t worry about that Guruji. I have more than sufficient work to keep the genie busy. You just send it to me and promise me that you will never ask back for it.”
The sage smiled, “I will not have to ask back for it my child. Here, take your genie.”
As the reader would have undoubtedly guessed, Ramu soon scaled the heights of health, peaks of prosperity and pinnacles of power with the genie’s help. Anything that he could ever seek of the world were now at his beck and call. His palatial home seemed gilded in gold because that was what it had been a made of! He forgot the meaning of the words ‘need’ or ‘lack’ and was convinced that this was the beginning of true happiness. He had his whole life ahead to enjoy this new-found happiness.
With these thoughts, Ramu lay on the royal bed when his genie appeared before him.
“What next master?”, it asked.
“Nothing now. You can rest a while...”
The words were barely out of his mouth when the genie pounced on him. It was about to start devouring him when Ramu remembered the sage’s condition.
“Wait”, he screamed, “Go and plant paddy in the fields.”
“That has already been done yesterday.”
“Then, excavate gold from the nearby hills.”
“Done today morning”, the genie gave a wicked smile.
“ Take over the lands of the king by battling with his soldiers and then build mansions with fountains there.”
“As you wish my master. I will be back in an hour.”
The genie left and Ramu heaved a sigh of relief at his narrow escape. What was he to do now? The genie was too quick and within a month, he had run out of tasks to give it. Now, his own life was in danger.
Keeping the genie busy
Even as the genie proceeded on its warpath with the king, Ramu wondered at the stupidity of his command. Senselessly he had brought upon war in the place. He got up from the bed and went straight to the sage.
“Master, please take back the genie. I have had enough of it. Now, I want it no more.”
The sage opened his eyes.
“Child! That is something I cannot do as I told you before. In fact, you elicited a promise from me that I will not ask back for the genie.”
“But it will destroy me unless you take it back!”, screamed Ramu, “I never thought that I would be in such trouble...”
“Desires are always like that Ramu. They come back to destroy you.”
“I can myself see that much. It is not much help if you reveal what I have already learned. Please help me save myself now...”
“It is very simple child. Ask the genie to get a long metal pole...”
“Which metal?” interrupted Ramu
“That does not matter... Gold, Silver, Iron, Brass, Bronze - whatever you wish. Fix the pole in the courtyard and tell the genie to go up and down that pole continuously. Live in peace after that.”
“Wow! That is a nice solution Guruji...”
“It is a simple one. But whatever happens, don’t forget the lesson you have got from all this.”
That was how Ramu rid himself of his greatest fear and threat.
Genies in our lives
Nobody is spared of problems and worries in life. As Swami told the farmers on that day at Mirthipadu,
“Worry and grief there will always be, of one type or other, in the past, present and future; while walking, dreaming and sleeping.”
Verse 62 and 63 of Chapter 2, Bhagwad Gita
Dhyayato Vishayan Pumsah, Sangas Teshupajayate
Sangaat Sanjayate Kaamah, Kamaat Krodho Bhijayate
Krodhat Bhavati Sammohah, Sammohat Smriti Vibramha
Smriti Bramhshad Buddhi Nasho, Buddhi Nashaat Pranashyati
Desire is the root cause of all worries and troubles. In the Bhagwad Gita, in the 62nd and 63rd verse of Chapter 2, Lord Krishna says:
“While concentrating on the objects of the sense (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing), a person develops attachment to these sense objects. Such attachment gives rise to desires. (Non-fulfillment of) These desires lead to anger. From anger arises delusion which leads one into confusion. In that confusion, one loses one’s ability to discriminate after which it is total ruin.”
Desires lead to the birth of the mind. Bhagawan Baba says that the mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts (desires). Pluck out these desires one by one, the mind vanishes just like the cloth is gone when one pulls apart each thread. (Swami has said this on many occasions. One powerful discourse on the mind was delivered on the 12th of October, 1983 in the Poornachandra auditorium. Do visit the link and read the short and powerful discourse.)
Thus, the mind is a “genie” that is gifted to each and every one of us to fulfill our desires. But if we seek to fulfill our lives rather than just fulfill desires, which will ultimately lead to the ‘genie’, destroying our own selves, we need the assistance of the metal pole. That pole is the Lord’s name. It does not matter “which metal” the pole is made of! Any name of the Lord will suffice. Let the genie of the mind dwell constantly, ‘up and down’, on the name of the Lord. One is at ease and peace! We are often told that the idle mind is a devil’s workshop. But Swami also gives us a way to keep the mind busy - in Namasmarana.
That was His simple message to the simple folk of Mirthipadu in that Divine Discourse on 2nd September 1958.
“Let the tongue, accustomed to the bitterness of the Neem fruit of worldly triumphs and disasters, taste the sweet honey of Naamasmarana (remembering of Lord's Name). Experiment this for a time and you will be surprised at the result. You can feel the vast improvement in peace and stability, in you and around you. Learn this easy lesson, get immersed in joy and let others also share that joy with you. This is Message I leave with you.”
The sweetness of the Lord’s name
Swami has often dilated on the power of Namasmarana through His little stories. These insightful stories reveal that simple contemplation on the Lord’s name is indeed a panacea for all problems. The problem is that we are not ready to accept it! That is why, in that discourse, Swami almost pleaded with everyone to experiment it and see for themselves. Namasmarana helps one to live in the present and not dwell unnecessarily on the past or the future - both which lead to restlessness and worry. More than all that, it is such a sweet and beautiful experience too. Many who have practiced it have attained raptures of bliss and depths of tranquility.
One may ask,
“While it is true that people like Meerabai, Namdev and a plethora of saints enjoyed bliss by chanting Lord’s name, I do not seem to be blessed that way. How is it that the name of the Lord discriminates between people? Should it not confer the same bliss on all?”
The answer, again, is simple. When the tongue is diseased, even a sweet tastes bitter. That is the case with most of us. There is no use blaming the ‘sweet’ that it is bitter! We need medicine to heal our ‘tongues’ and then we will enjoy the true taste of the ‘sweet’ name. The wonderful thing is that the Lord’s Name in itself is the medicine too! So, we just have to chant long enough and soon, we will be enjoying sublime sweetness, one like which we have never experienced before.
I feel blessed to have known, seen and experienced my Lord, my Swami. That adds to the experience of Namasmarana as Swami put it, once again at Mirthipadu,
“Sai Baba was till today a formless Name to you, but now it has come with Form and you can keep the ruupa (form) in your mind. Live always in the presence of that Form-filled Naamam. Then life becomes one continuous worship of the Lord.”
A quick question
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya
Rajinee.S on February 11, 2018:
Thank you. Aum Sai Ram.
Sai Anil Harit on September 08, 2016:
I'm already enjoying the bliss,some time I deviate but most of the time Swami is with us. May Swami continue making you His effective Instrument .
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on September 25, 2015:
@Soumyadipta - You have raised a subtle point. But here is how I understand it. "emptiness" or "having nothing" is not a physical virtue. It is the state of mind - being filled with desires or being desireless.
While some become desireless through wisdom, others gain it through relentless pursuit of desires which they realise is fruitless.
In another sense, there is also a message in the story that one cannot attain God by "giving up" action. One has to act since one has a body and mind. One has to renounce the fruits of action and not action itself. This again emphasizes the point that "nothingness" is a state of the mind.
This is a confusion that might arise because Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga are considered as 3 separate paths. They are actually deeply intertwined. This other hub might interest you:
Soumyadipta on September 25, 2015:
I have a doubt. Ramu still had his possessions when the genie was ordered to move up and down the pole. In essence, this means that he got tired of the material possessions and then left it. It is different from having nothing and being content.
Sathyanarayana on March 06, 2014:
Wow brother really a beautiful story. From now on I will try to control my mind. Because before reading this article my mind used to be a fidgety one.
Remya on December 28, 2013:
Thank you so much .......Swami is using u as His instrument to help so many of us....God bless
ShivaKumar on November 21, 2013:
What a timing, WOW this is how SWAMI strikes through U. You are a really gifted instrument of SWAMI. Thanks a Million dear brother Arvind. Why I say this is, I felt this message was apt for me as even though I love SWAMI so much and pray to him always. I am mired in a big problem in our office which is beyond any of our control. In fact I came to Prashanti Nilayam last wekend to seek Swami Blessings and also walked into Radio Sai office to meet you but I was told that you were away in Bangalore. Anyway, I got the Message from SWAMI through U that Namasmarana is the best Medicine as my mind was on a spin thinking about the problem. So Swami answers our prayers mysteriously and we should be sharp enough to grasp it.
Thanks a lot once again dear brother Arvind, MAY SAI BLESS U
Manjula Prasad on November 19, 2013:
Beautiful, educational, and sweet. God bless you my dear son.
Rsivanesan on November 19, 2013:
Thank you a beautiful story i can tell my kids at night, my son loves stories. Lets all recite the name of the lord and live in bliss and calm, sairam.