Monday, August 19, 2013 0 comments

3 Things to do- 'Surrender, Serve and Question' II

Rough Translation:
 '...try for jnanam.  In the episode of public disrobing of Draupadi  (in The Mahabharata), when Draupadi tried to save herself on her own, it did not work. But when she recalled Sri Krishna, putting her burdens on him, she obtained protection. Therefore, in that slokam everything is mentioned. Instead of using that slokam to prevent other thoughts from entering his head, if Nana learns from it to surrender, renders service and questions the Sadguru then, he will attain brahmajnana. Hence Baba asked Nana to explain it. Since Nana was unable to do so, Baba himself explained the correct way of doing the above three. If we think a little further, we can understand the origin of The Bhagwatgita. Arjuna has surrendered to Sri Krishna who is the witness to the Lord's nature (cosmic consciousness) within Himself and without i.e. a manifestation of the Lord himself. (On the battlefield) Arjuna is caught up in confusion over his Dharma; what is right and what is wrong and he questions Sri Krishna regarding this ('pariprasna'). Because Arjuna did this, The Bhagwatgita was born. Therefore I understood why Baba is saying that this slokam is so significant.  Thinking further, only this slokam reveals to us how to obtain satva gunam, daivee gunam; that satva gunam, daivee gunam without which yagya, dana, tapas, karma will be meaningless; without which we have no other way, but to obtain which there is  stated no other way, other than the one stated in this slokam only. That is why, Baba explained only this slokam.

Therefore what we have to do in Ammagaru's Sannidhi is clear. 
Jai Sai Master


3 Things to do - 'Surrender to the sadguru, render service and question him...' I

Looking back it is difficult to spot the turning point? How did we happen to eschew the mundanities of our previous life to come into the direct presence of  Mahatmas? The physical move was just a few years ago. But the journey had to have started long, long back with the first introduction, the chance meeting or the accident of being born to devoted parents.

What is our prime duty once we have come to Their presence? 

"Why have you come here?"  That is oft heard question from the Guru Kutumbam. If you do not keep asking yourself this question, this time shall pass like many other  and later we will go back to our previous mundane way of life, perhaps even regretting this time as time wasted. This time in their presence is limited and precious. What is to be our take away, our learning depends entirely on us.

Often having come into their presence, our problems are mostly solved while our desires and dreams continue to belong to our previous state of mind. They are a product of our birth tendencies, family upbringing and social conditioning. So we knowingly or unknowingly create our own universe, based on our likes and dislikes, in their divine presence - very much like a little India or a little Italy abroad. Then we are not learning anything and worse we are self-deluded. 

So what is it that we really have to do now? Today I came across this passage from Sri Saimaster Pravachanalu  (Chapter 25, 'Trigunalu') elaborating on the episode of Baba  questioning Nana Chandorkar on what he was mumbling while sitting in His presence in the Shirdi's Dwarakamayi (pg 224-227, 'The God-man and Tradition', Chapter 14, Sai Baba the Master):


Saimaster's Teaching's

Thursday, August 15, 2013 0 comments

On Emptiness - Sri Sai Master - Letters II

Note the assurance  "I am ever with you". And then at the end the humility of this Great Master, " Baba's grace."

This so much similarity to the Letters of Swami Vivekananda...

On Emptiness - Sri Sai Master - Letters I

Letters are personal by nature. Sri Saimaster's letters available as Sri Saimaster Amrutha Lekhavali (Telugu and English letters) are a beautiful living voice of the Master. In the letter I am sharing below, not only are His words and thoughts profound, from His writing style I can feel the love for the addressee with which he writes, the inclusiveness of that love for all humankind, the precise diagnosis of the complaint, like a brilliant doctor and the clarity and authority of the instruction. How clearly and lovingly He instructs even how to acquire the book... It makes me believe that a spiritual life is possible, the confidence that the 'seeing' He is suggesting we do, can indeed be done by us... Do you feel the same?


PS: I believe there is are some typos in this. Read 'dwell' for 'will', compassion for 'corruption'!

Children's upbringing and schooling

Here at Nagole, we devotees are not an isolated/insulated lot. We live amongst a lot of other non-devotees of Pujya Sai Master. Naturally there is a degree of curiosity, speculation and general non-understanding. More so in the first couple of years of Ammagaru taking up residence at Nilayam.

Once someone who is well used to us rushing to our numerous 'functions', daily evening 'satsangs', cook-overs and meetings asked, what do you do with your children? Where do they figure in all this? And as all Nagolites reading this will do, I could only shake my head with laughter. 

Because it all began with the kids!!!  As Ammagaru once noted, we adults so-called devottees do not seem much concerned about improving ourselves (despite all Their efforts). However, we do want The Best for our children and we are completely sure that they will get it nowhere else, only in  Ammagaru's Sannidhi.

Kids - the future - are always at the forefront of every activity here. They are not 'instructed' or 'taught' or 'disciplined' in the conventional sense. That is not to say that they are left free to do and behave as they wish. Since this sounds a little beyond the comprehension of us, modern parents, you guessed it  - all that training and discipline is for us! 

Parenting today is one of the biggest challenges of life. There is no training whatsoever to the new parents, the older generation unlike the previous generations is also quite unequipped to handle grandchildren. Usually they neither have the energy, inclination or resources. What is worse, often they are quite plainly wrong. For instance, the insistence of that generation on scoring marks, competing for government jobs or MNC jobs to settle overseas has led to highly specialized adults of today who cannot easily switch careers according to the need of the hour, lost career opportunities in allied fields of medicine and non-computer related engineering fields, lack of good faculty for educational institutions, poor vocational training, rapid population influx to cities, ...........the list is endless. If you think this is all obvious, you belong to the elite few. This 'marks', 'ceritificates', 'doctor' or 'engineer' mind-set of has been passed on to our generation of parents quite effortlessly. Hence the queues for 'certificates' and 'visas' are growing longer. 

If we take out some time to think, we would realise that our grandparents, ie those born in 1920s or later were an insecure post world wars, post independence struggle generations. No one  can fault them for seeking monetary security or making the choices they made. Our parents, ie. those born in 1940s or later were the generation after them, who faced the transitions from wood stoves to gas -stoves, national change to metric measurement and Rupee currency system, women leaving home to work outside, break up of the joint family system, telephones and mobiles and computers and emails versus telegrams and post.

All of these we take for granted today. If everything has changed then why are we still clinging to our colonial past in terms of education for our children? And how we want to educate them, which school or college we want them to attend, what we want them to become, determines how we bring them up today. 

The School is our new God today. The going rates of School admission and tuition fees determines how many children we will have. The School admission process asks for a nuclear family photo (police requirement??) and the income bracket to which we belong.  'Oh, wake up, its time for school' is our new Suprabhatam. We put in eco-friendly tiffin boxes what the school nutritionist recommends for each day of the week. We have to take our children to a popular holiday destination or his/her holiday homework essay will not be good enough. We have to dress up in our Sunday best for the PTA and our children's report cards are Our Performance reports. After all, what if the School counsellor says my child has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or Dyslexia?

The question is, 'Will you give in to the 'System'?' or 'Do something about it?'. There is a lot of thought provoking and forthright inputs and discussions by Babugaru in a very valuable discussion thread in SaiMaster Forums, 'Pillala pempakam' - from 2009 which is wonderful read. It is linked in this post. You will need to log in.

Happy Reading and Happy Independence Day
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 0 comments

Said the donkey to the crocodile -- fables and fairy tales are not a waste of time

HHi, here is a sample of the kind of kid's education discussions we have at Nagole and with the world. Babugaru's post on Facebook:

Some of my favourites are the Panchatantra tales, Russian Folk tales, Tales and Parables for Children by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Great Indian Women and other Ramakrishna Mission publications for children and Tales for Children by Sri Rama Teertha. Do add any more you prefer in your comments. 

The best way to use these tales I have discovered, is not to merely relate one every day but relate a relevant when a discussion comes up.

Schooling versus Education

Schooling versus Education has been question of great discussions, debates, learnings, some tears and many joys at Nagole in the past five years.

Initiated by Babugaru, it lead to the Home schooling of a group of children of devotees, who had been up to then going to regular, well-established public schools in the city. As Babugaru laughingly puts it, coming from a family background of no schooling,( his father and grand father did not have formal schooling - and who are well known erudite scholars and doctors, to say the least), he was the first to experience the misery of going to school. It is in his very genes to oppose formal schooling.  Sri Ananthacharya Gurukulam, in the line of ancient, advanced education system practiced in our country, came into existence. The students of this Gurukulam are our pride and joy of our lives. Touch wood and Amen!

There is a lot of social, parental conditioning to be unlearnt in this regard and a joyous journey of knowledge with our children to be undertaken. I know to be joyous as I have begun to question many of my beliefs, confront many common fears originating from my school experience (such as the fear of numbers, fear of being laughed at, fear of being singled out, fear of failure - owing to competitive fish-bowl schooling system) which still influence my life. When I rediscover the world of practical knowledge with my child, I experience the joy of learning vis-a-vis the burden of having to learn.

This desire to learn and natural curiosity is fundamental to being human kind points out Mastergaru. It is fundamental to leading a fulfilling, satisfying life. And therefore it is fundamental to spirituality. And when we go about our routinely busy lives, book travel in order to escape boredom or be 'in', plan to enjoy, plan the birth of our children,  plan sick leave  ...........!! 


I still don't feel like doing Parayana

'I still don't feel like doing Parayana'.

After all the 'gyan' I put in my previous posts, we usually come back to the above refrain. That is, I am a repeat, repeat re-exam candidate. I am growing old and still in college like our beloved film actors. Actually  in spiritual education, I am still in Kindergarten. So what do we do?

Ammagaru comes to our rescue again and suggested that at any time, even if we do not feel like doing parayana, we may feel like doing other acitivities like japam or bhajan. So we should do those. Eventually, we will feel like doing Parayana again. Or else we can sit and reflect on our readings so far. That would be 'mananan' which is good. Or else we can just sit and gaze at Baba's or Master's photo. That is also 'dhyanam'. If we do not want to do any of the above then it does not bode well for our state of mind/spiritual life.

As Mastergaru has explained and Babugaru elaborated, the problem is in our state of mind. We obviously want to do Parayana (because we are stating our problem) but we don't feel like doing it!!! It is very much like all our other problems in life. We want to be healthy and look great, of course one needs to exercise for that, but naturally, we don't feel like doing it. We even part with our hard earned money to gyms and dietitians to 'make us do it'. Many people pay money to pujaris and temples to perform their worship for them in absentia

Now this is where Ammagaru says we need to curb that trend of mind. Are we willing to pay for our movie tickets and enjoy our movies in absentia? Or our very precious (i.e.holy) holidays? So that kind of logic is unextendable. It is merely laziness. Therefore our daily, every minute, all- pervading, contagious laziness is a far greater malaise than corrupt politicians. And in this case, mere talk won't suffice.

If our mind rebels strongly again parayana (perhaps parental influence led you to start it etc), you can even leave it off. With time - it may take years- we begin to want what we experienced while we did parayana and will definitely come to take it up ourselves again. This is the experience of many who started parayana years ago and my experience too.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013 0 comments

FAQ - How should we do Parayana? - II

Master wrote more than 45 books and in His life time discoursed almost ceaselessly (even through His meals). Once when some one asked Him to summarize, He said that if we are really trying to be true followers of Sri Sai Baba, Parayana and leaving food outside before meals are the two key, central practices to be followed compulsorily.

Babugaru recommends, 'Read and reread the oft neglected Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, Appendices & Glossaries if any to all of Saimaster's writings especially the main parayana granthas, Sri Sai Leelamrutham (Telugu), Sri Guru Charitra (Telugu), Sai Baba the Master (see Appendix 'A Note on Devotion to the Guru'), Sri Swami Samarth (English) to begin with'. These are concise writings answer many of our questions and dilemmas of daily life. For example:
  • what are the benefits of having a spiritual life and does it take away from our worldly life  
  • what are the benefits of doing Parayana
  • a brief introduction to the great culture and tradition of Parayana in our country beginning with Srimad Bhagwatham. why this tradition is still relevant today and the future, and should become the central point in our lives
  •  what is the Dattatreya tradition and what is its uniqueness
  •  how does Shirdi Sai Baba fit into the Dattatreya tradition and why Sri Guru Charitra and Sri Sai Jeevitha Charitra (same as Sri Sai Leelamrutham) should be read side by side.
This wealth should be imprinted in on our minds. 

Babugaru further says, 'Be an active reader.  i.e. do not just swallow what Master says in the books, because that is going against what Master himself believed in.'  Having promised us all that he has said, in say the Introduction to Sri Sai Leelamrutham, while reading the book, we should see if it delivers. Do you actually experience the 'benefits'?; if not why and if yes to what extent. In either case this is what we should bring to the discussion table in the numerous talks at Nagole and outside, online forums, regular home discussion groups (satsangs) etc.

Moreover we should not read these books in isolation. We should cross-reference (atleast where Master himself refers to other books) all the time. 

We should simultaneously read books by and on other mahatmas, especially Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sri Ramana Maharshi,

Reading Sri Sai Prabodhamrutam is a must, especially for those who have been reading Sri Sai Leelamrutham for years. Have you actually put into practice what Master mentions in the first para, in the first ten pages?? As Sri Sai Baba to the devotee who make the difficult buffalo ride across the Nanhe Ghat, 'Mere reading without practice is of no use'.

Sunday, August 11, 2013 0 comments

FAQ - How should we do Parayana? - I

A frequently asked and answered question here at Nagole talks is that our Parayana (regular reading in a way that 'paraayatha chendadam' occurs, as per Pujya Saimaster) has become a matter of mere routine and we no longer enjoy it the way we did in the beginning.

From my meagre study so far of Pujya Saimaster's books and speeches, I have found that he has himself stated in patient detail, numerous and unique ways in which we in the first place identify whether our readings are working or not, and how to rectify it (refer Sri Sai Prabodhamrutam, Saimaster Pravachanamulu, Dhyana Yoga Sarvasvam etc). However, for the failing student who is unable to hold Master's books (for that matter, any other useful book) in his/her hands for more than a few minutes or worse uses his book as a favoured possession on his showcase, this is no answer.

Since I belong to the above category, I have put down a few of my learnings in the last few years of my stay at Nagole for immediate reference:
1. Babugaru advised me, 'Ask the question (to yourself), 'Why should I read?', not 'Why am I not able to read?.' Do this again and again till you are sure.

2. As per Ammagaru, while reading we should visualize everything. Visualize exact location of each item in Dwarakamayi, Baba sitting there and visitors coming  in, Lendi Garden etc. ( Photos and actual visits to Shirdi etc help us in this). Think of Baba's unpredictible and terrible anger, how the devotees used to run away from Dwarakamayi. Only to return, when he calmed down. Why would they come back, if not for His love?

3. Imagine you are each devotee who approaches Baba. Imagine (like an actor) you have that particular  problem (you have an incurable disease, in dire need of money etc. what would be your state of mind? When you approach Baba, how would Baba's behaviour or response affect you?

4. Try to understand Baba's state of mind, based on his responses to his devotees, his daily routine, his actions etc.  For example, if Baba knew the past, present and future of every devotee, what was His state of mind? If with that state of mind all the time, were He to tell us something almost casually, the way He told his closest devotee Shama, will we make the same mistake as Shama and others did - not take Him seriously and suffer for it? Are we doing the same thing with what Ammagaru tells us?

5. In Sai Baba the Master, Chapter 1, Master has described what went through his mind, before his experience of Samadhi at Shirdi on 9th February, 1963. " The look captured my gaze. "What does his face, especially his look and smile, indicate of his attitude.... (end of para)" .As per Babugaru (EDJ), we can do readings using each line in that paragraph as a basis.

6. Smt. Vedamma garu suggests that when we sit down for parayana, imagine that Baba is before you  and listening while you read. Take this further and just imagine, His condition when you postpone your reading everyday to late night when it become unavoidable, and He has to be awake to listen while you nod over your book!!

7. For every problem we face at every stage in life, the solution (i.e. the way we should think and approach the problem) has been given in the leelas and sayings of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. Look out for these when you read. Reflect on how you have approached these same issues and can you do what is suggested?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 0 comments

Ammagari Bodha

"Proper worldly life is real Spirituality"

"సరైన్ లౌకీక్ జీవితామే నిజమైన ఆధ్యాత్మికతా"