8. Sathyam vada; Dharmam chara
WHAT greater misfortune can there be than the fact that Bharatiyas make no effort to understand
their great and Divine culture, based on the most sublime ideals?
Love is the form of Brahmam. Brahmam is filled with Love. Love can be secured only through
Love. Only when one is firmly established in Love can he be qualified to experience the One
without a second.
Embodiments of Divine Love! “Sathyam vada; Dharmam chara” (Speak the Truth, pursue
Righteousness). This is the great pronouncement of the ancient Upanishads and scriptures of
Bharatiyas. Truth and Righteousness are the stepping-stones to human greatness. The puranas
have also declared: “Sathayameva Jayathe” (Truth alone triumphs). Victory adores Truth,
“Sathyaanaasthi Paro Dharma” (There is no greater Dharma than truth), declare the Puranas.
Truth is God. It is supreme folly to forget this fact and seek to obtain the grace of God by all
kinds of practices. The Bhagavatha has indicated a more arduous path. Emperor Bali told his
Guru Sukracharya, “C an there be a greater sin than going back on one’s plighted word?”
The same truth was revealed by Bhoodevi (the Goddess of the Earth) in another context in the
Bhagavatha. Bhoodevi lamented: “Oh Lord! I can bear the burden of any number of sinners. But
I cannot bear to carry those who have betrayed Truth.”
The glow of Truth has been proclaimed by the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and the
epics. The Upanishads have expounded the characteristics of Sathya (Truth). “Sathyaanna
Pramadithavyam, Dharmaanna Pramadithavyam” (Do not disregard Truth. Do not be indifferent
to Dharma). “In any circumstances do not give up Truth. Overcome all difficulties by adhering
to truth” is the teaching of the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad and other texts.
Harischandra’s life as an example
Harischandra, who gave up his kingdom, wife and son and even chose to serve as a watchman in
a burning-ghat, is the supreme example of one who stood for Truth. Vishwamitra, who subjected
Harischandra to the most severe tests and ordeals, ultimately declared: “The whole earth can be
held in the palm of one’s hand. The entire ocean can be drunk at one gulp. The earth and the sky
can be rolled into one. But it is impossible to make Harischandra utter a lie.”
Through Truth not only can the world be subdued, but it is possible even to realise the Lord of
the universe. Today in Bharat, because people have given up Truth and Righteousness, they are
not able to achieve unity and all kinds of divisions and antagonisms have developed. You have to
dedicate yourselves to Truth. In offering worship to Rama. and Krishna, prayers are offered to
their manifestations as Truth. “Sathyam vachanaaya namah,” “Sathyapriyaaya namah,”
“Sathyaswaroopaaya namah” (Salutations to the One whose speech is Truth, who is a lover of
Truth, who is the embodiment of Truth).
In the cause of upholding truth, Sri Ramachandra had to go as an exile to the forest. Rama told
the sage Jabali: “For rulers in the Ikshwaaku dynasty, the greatest calamity is going back on the
Pothana’s faith in Lord Rama
God should be worshipped as the embodiment of Truth. This is the primary duty of every
Bharatiya. Srinatha was a great scholar and writer who was the Court poet of the Andhra ruler,
Singabhupaala. He came to his brother-in-law, Pothana, who was living in poverty, and entreated
him to dedicate his Bhagavatham to Singabhupaala. “If you dedicate your Bhagavatham to that
ruler, he will reward you with all kinds of riches,” said Srinatha. Pothana replied: “Sri
Ramachandra is Lord above all kings. When I have Sri Ramachandra, the King of Kings, what
need is there for me to submit to earthly rulers? It is God who offers spiritual benefits, earthly
benefits and other benefits to everyone. Cannot the protector of so many countless beings, take
care of me?” Pothana firmly held to this belief.
Provoked by Pothana’s stubborn attitude and attributing it to Pothana’s conceit, Srinatha
conveyed his feelings to Singabhupala. The ruler became furious. He sent his soldiers to wrest
the Bhagavatham from Pothana. Pothana was prepared even to give up his life, but would not
surrender the Bhagavatham. On the orders of the ruler, his men set fire to Pothana’s house.
Pothana prayed: “Oh Sri Ramachandra! Will you not protect atleast your own life-story, apart
from protecting your devotees?” Appealing to Sri Rama to protect the Bhagavatham, Pothana
closed his eyes in meditation. Except the Bhagavatham, everything else was consumed by the
Realise the infinite worth of Lord’s name
Singabhupala heard about this remarkable phenomenon. From that moment he became a devotee
of Rama. It is only when one’s devotion is firm, pure and unwavering that the Lord is ready to
extend every kind of protection. Unfortunately, in this Kali era, faith is continually changing
because of worldly desires. Man is willing to barter away the precious gem of his life for a piece
of charcoal. If he realised the true value of human birth he would not treat it so lightly and go as
far even to discard God. Tulsidas also said that the man who did not know the preciousness of
the Lord’s name, casts it away as worthless. Hence, it is essential to realise the infinite worth of
the Lord’s name. Mira also recognised the uniqueness and greatness of God’s name. “Enjoy the
nectarine sweetness of the Lord’s name,” says Mira. Instead of coffee and tea you must drink the
sweet essence of the Lord’s name. For the man who has installed the Lord in his heart, there will
be no troubles of any kind.
It is not easy for all people to recognise the truth about God. When Socrates was attracting the
youth of Athens to get interested in the pursuit of wisdom, his mission was misunderstood by the
powers that be. The saint Thyagaraja lamented: “Oh Rama; the people do not understand the
greatness of the Bhakti marga (path of devotion). People prefer the Bhukti marga (the path of
enjoyment) to the Bhakti marga. Today men pursue worldly studies with diligence, but few are
interested in the pursuit of Mukti (Liberation). How can such persons ever realise God, whatever
may be their education? All efforts are directed towards worldly and material ends, but no effort
is made to attain spiritual realisation. Education today enables one to develop intellectual
abilities, but does not promote good qualities. Of what value is such education? Book learning
may convert the head into a library. But it is of no practical use.
Convert ordinary duties into acts of worship
Socrates was condemned to death for turning the minds of the youth away from worldly
concerns to spiritual matters. Socrates preferred to end his life by drinking poison received from
the hands of his disciples rather than die at the jailor’s hands. This means that more value was
attached to spiritual purity than to the physical life.
Today, only sensual pleasures, which are transient and unreal, are valued. Those who imagine
that they are deriving pleasure through their senses do not realise that it is the senses that are
enjoying them and weakening them.
What is devotion? It is not doing Japa or sitting in meditation or doing bhajans. Essentially it
consists of two things: one, lack of interest in worldly things’ two, love of God. Whatever you do
out of love for God is devotion. You may engage yourselves in the ordinary duties of life. Only
convert them into acts of worship by offering them to the Divine.
Sadhaks are children of immortality
All of you are devotees, but for want of proper advice you are confused and feel depressed. On
account of this confusion and depression you develop doubts. Sai does not ask you to renounce
the world. But, in what way should you live in the world? You should enjoy the world with a
spiritual outlook. You should realise that you have come down from the Atma to the realm of
Nature. Today the reverse view prevails among sadhaks. They wrongly think that they are
proceeding from Nature to the Spirit. You have emerged from the Atma and not evolved from
Nature. You are the children of immortality. You are sparks of the Divine.
You must recognise the Divinity that is in everyone. Learn a lesson from the birds and insects. If
a crow sees some edible, it does not start eating it all alone. It summons other crows and enjoys
the food in their company. Look at the ants. If one ant chances upon a lump of sugar, it will not
start eating it all by itself. It will bring other ants and enjoy the repast all together. Is man worse
than crows and ants? Should he not have the sense of unity which these creatures have? Even the
ants seem to have some sense of the Divine. That was why Thyagaraja sang: “Oh Rama! May the
Brahmam, which is present as love in the ant and in the Supreme, protect me!” Thyagaraja
recognised the omnipresence of the Divine in everything from the smallest to the vastest.
People recite Thyagaraja’s song. But in practice, if Brahma were to appear before them they will
offer worship, and if an ant crawls on them they will kill it. Does this demonstrate their sense of
oneness? The presence of the ant is not relished. But the spirit of sacrifice and sharing which the
ant has is not to be found in man. Neither the practice of hoarding nor that of plundering others is
to be found among animals and birds. But today the acquisitive and exploiting tendencies are
growing among men from day to day.
Embodiments of Love! Realising that human life is precious, fill your hearts with sacred thoughts
and lead noble lives, dedicated to the service of society. Such service is indeed service to God. If
you offer worship to one idol in your shrine you are worshiping only one. But when you render
service to society you will be offering worship to innumerable forms of the Divine.
Discourse at Dharmakshetra, Bombay on 29-4-1990.
Among men, each one is himself the cause of his fortune– good or
bad. He is himself the builder, the architect, fate, destiny, predetermination,
the Will of God–everyone of these explanations is
toppled by the principle of Karma.
8. Sathyam vada; Dharmam chara