Volume 9 - Issue 011
November 2011
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Posted on : Nov 08, 2011

Radio Sai Study Circle – 6

Understanding Love in All Its Dimensions






God is the Only True Friend

GSS: That's right Bishu, but I really feel such friendship is very rare in the world. And we must invite our divine participant again, the one who started this study circle. Swami puts it so beautifully as to who is a true friend. When the lake is full of water, you have all the frogs. But when the water dries up, there's not one left. He says the world is like that. Eventually the only true friend of man is God. Let's listen to this clip from Bhagawan.

Listen to Swami Talking on Friendship

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What do you mean by friendship? It is not greeting each other by saying Hello, Hello! It is a kind of preparedness to work unitedly under all circumstances and in all positions. This type of friendship is not present anywhere is this world today. Who is the good friend in this world? God is the only good friend. The mother, the father, the brother, the sister, the husband or the wife, all have a trace of selfishness when they love. God alone loves you without even an iota of selfishness and self-interest. He doesn’t expect anything in return. He doesn’t take anything from anyone. He only gives and gives, and never takes.


AD: In fact, after listening to Bhagawan's description of who our true friend is, I am reminded of one personal experience where I really experienced that friendship with Swami. It was when I was in primary school. I did a few silly things which got me into a lot of trouble. It was because I thought that a particular boy was my best friend and that I had to help him in any way I could. In any case, I was in a big problem and my teachers and classmates were very disappointed with what I had done.

I had reached a point where I was almost left all alone. I was feeling very down. The next Thursday morning as Swami came for darshan He accosted a boy for misbehaving the previous day. He very beautifully explained to that boy saying:

“For what have you come here? You have come to make your parents proud of you. And make Me proud of you. So you must behave like a good boy. Swami likes good boys.”

After this, Swami looked at me and He said, “Be like that boy; he is a very good boy.”

  sathya sai baba

GSS: That's nice.

AD: And then Swami said, “Boy, get up.” And He made me stand next to Him and put His Hand around my shoulders, almost like a friend.

BP: Do you have a picture of that?

AD: Unfortunately, in those days, pictures were very far and few. So He put His Hand around me and said, “Be like this boy.” Just at that moment, I was noticing all my teachers, and these were the same people who had severely reprimanded me for the mischievous thing I'd done. All of a sudden, my entire image was being...

BP: Resurrected!

AD: Yes! Resurrected from the deepest of oceans into the great heights of the  sky. Swami went on to praise me for something that I'd not done. I still don't know why He praised me so much, but the only thing I remember was that if Swami hadn't done that, I wouldn't have had any face to show. All the teachers were so disappointed with me, but that day, Swami saved me; He came to my rescue. In fact, He even pardoned the other boy for misbehaving.

When I went back to school, many teachers came and said, “We are very sorry for what we have done.” I can never forget that day when Swami was my best friend.

KMG: Well, that was an instance of a divine friend coming to your rescue. Even at the mundane level, we'll be able to see such superhuman love. I'm reminded of a very touching story of two men, both seriously ill, admitted in the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain his fluids from his lungs. Now, this man's bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. These men used to talk for hours on end. They spoke about their families, their jobs, where they had been on vacation, and so on.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would describe to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed started living for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activities and the colour of the outside world.

“The window overlooks a park with a lovely lake”, the 'window man' used to say. “Ducks and swans play on the water, while children sail their model boats; grand old trees grace the landscape and a fine view of the city skyline can be seen in the distance.” As he described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine those beautiful images.

But, quite unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head, “Why should he have the pleasure of seeing everything, while I never get to see?” It didn't seem fair. As the days went by, his envy became resentment and soon turned into sorrow. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He felt he should be by that window.

One fine day, when the nurse arrived to bring water for their bath, she found the lifeless body of the man by the window. She was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Finally, he could have the joy of seeing it all by himself.

He strained to slowly turn to look outside the window only to see a blank wall! He was absolutely surprised, as it was impossible for an empty wall to come up overnight. On enquiry, he found that the deceased man by his side was actually blind!

The moral of the story is very simple – the happiness that comes by giving joy to others is the only true joy worth living for, and that is the secret of contentment.

SG: Swami says that we seek this kind of a joy through friendships, especially if our friend is very well placed. Suppose he's powerful or very rich, we feel very secure and proud about it. Now, Swami says, “If you consider God Himself to be your friend, imagine how much more secure and proud you can feel?” God is always waiting so that you will call Him as your best friend, and He'll reach out to you.

BP: In fact, sometime back, I read a small excerpt of a discourse where Swami says that the best relationship to have with God is friendship - to relate to God in a very soulful manner, as if He's someone our own - instead of placing Him on an exalted pedestal.

KMG: An intimate friend!

BP: Yes!

GSS: I guess it's the same analysis again. Friendship too is something which can be limited to the body. But then, it can be really taken to a transcendental level and helps us to connect to God.

Vatsalya – The Manifestation of Love as Mother's Affection

  Laksmana seeking permission from mother Sumithra to follow Rama to the forest

Now, let's move on to possibly the highest form of love, Vatsalya Prema, that is, love of a mother for her child. Bishu, you already narrated a story about a mother with respect to the Chinese earthquake. So can I ask you to elaborate a little more on this very refined form of love?

BP: I'm actually reminded of the Ramayana here. It is the scene when Kaikeyi seeks the boon from Dasharatha and Rama has to go to the forest for 14 years. At that time, Lakshmana pleads with Rama that he also be taken along with him. Rama finally accedes to his request but tells him to seek the permission of Mother Sumitra.

When Lakshmana goes to his mother, instead of crying and lamenting that she will be losing her son for 14 years, Sumitra is actually happy. She says, “I'm so glad that you're going to serve Lord Rama.” That her own offspring was becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord made her immensely pleased. I feel that is an occasion where Vatsalya Prema actually went to such an exalted state that it is almost divine.

AD: Very true!

Parents are Trustees of God's Children

KMG: In fact, Swami has given a very powerful and practical tip for all parents as to how they must view their children, and with what perspective they have to bring up their sons and daughters.

He says that for parents, their children can be compared to their neighbour's ornaments. We all know that ornaments add value and beauty to one who adorns them. One has to handle them very carefully, because they are delicate and precious.

At the same time, if one is aware that the ornaments belong to someone else, one would not be attached to them. Similarly, God is the neighbour who has given these ornaments in the form of children, which the parents have to return one day to Him. Hence, parents are actually trustees and not the owners of their children. If this is kept in mind, one can avoid being overly attached to children.

BP: A very interesting concept for all parents!

GSS: And Bishu, Ganesh, in fact, very much related to this is a story often narrated by Bhagawan of a woman called Alrubia.


Alrubia was a great woman and a noble mother. She had two children. She and her husband were very attached to them. Unfortunately one day both these children died when they were still young. The husband had gone out of station on business and Alrubia was in a state of distress. But, she controlled her emotions, telling herself that this was God's will and whatever had happened was for her good.

However she was wondering how to communicate this sad news to her husband upon his arrival. So when he returned, she asked him, “Dear husband, several years back, a holy sage had gifted me with two lovely earrings and now, he has returned to take them back from me. What should I do?”

The husband after thinking for a while replied, “Dear wife, it was only a gift given to you, to be kept under your custody. Therefore, it does not belong to you. You must immediately offer it back with joy.”

Alrubia, with strong determination, holding back her tears, took her husband to the room where both their children lay dead and said, “These are the two gifts that were bestowed on us by God. Today, He has chosen to take them away. So, let us hand them over with joy.” And this, Bhagawan says, was the wisdom of a noble mother.

SG: In fact, Swami had given my mother an experience where He showed her that parents are merely trustees of their children and that they have to guide their children towards God. I joined Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School in 1999 and it was for the first time that I joined a boarding school. Earlier I'd always gone to a regular day school. And being the only son of my parents, they were very attached to me.

AD: They must have had some apprehension.

SG: Yes. When my mother was to put me in the hostel, she was very confused. She was not sure if she was doing the right thing, because I'd never stayed away from my parents.

She didn't know whether I could cope up with that kind of rigour and discipline. She was very confused and perplexed, and really didn't know what to do. With all that confusion and a prayer to Bhagawan, she slept that night.

That day she got a beautiful dream. She saw a huge courtyard with a parapet wall and she was standing on one side of it where there were many spirit lamps that were lit and kept. On the other side, suddenly, she saw Swami walking down with a spirit lamp in His own hand, but it was not lit.

Swami was stretching out His hand as though asking for somebody to come and light that lamp. Immediately, my mother rushed and lit Swami's spirit lamp. At that particular moment, the lamp in her own hands had a very small flame as a normal lamp would. The moment it touched the lamp in Swami's hand, it became a huge flame. And then, she woke up. That gave her huge confidence. She felt Swami was telling her, “You are but trustees of your children. The true purpose for which they have come to you is so that you can hand them over to Me, and I can bring them up for My mission.”

BP: In a much grander fashion!


KMG: In a much grander fashion and to make them instruments in His mission.

AD: Beautiful! In fact, I'm reminded of another experience that happened with one of our professors here, who teaches in the Department of Management Studies. He has a daughter who suffers from diabetes, right from her young age. There have been several moments when she has almost lost her life because of very high sugar levels.

On one occasion, when he prayed to Bhagawan to cure her of that malady, Swami said, “She is My gift that I have given you. Your job is to look after that gift. The day I ask for it, you should give it as if it's a prasadam that I have given you.”

From that day onwards, Sir says that his entire perspective towards his daughter changed. He was only a custodian and she really belonged to Swami. Bhagawan knew what is to be done with her, because she belongs to Swami. So, the heart-wrenching feeling that used to be there in his bosom had considerably reduced, though the treatment still goes on. And every moment of her life, in fact, he now says, is owed to Swami, because Bhagawan is deciding how long this gift should be with her parents.

I'm reminded of yet another beautiful experience that one of our teachers had narrated. It was regarding India's great freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

Towards the end of his life, he was going to be hanged for an act he had committed. As the noose was being put around his neck, his mother happened to be there. She was shedding tears and all the people around went to console her, obviously in one of the most challenging moments of her life.

However she said, “I am not crying because I will lose my son. I'm crying because I do not have another son whom I can offer for the sake of this country.” These are the moments I feel where Vatsalya bhavam or the attachment between the parents and the prodigy had been sublimated again to a divine level.

BP: I cannot help but recall divine Mother Easwaramma here. Even when she saw the whole world coming to the feet of her son and so much prosperity around, she did not ask for a world tour or an expensive home or exquisite jewellery or anything like that.

She asked from Swami a school for the poor children, a hospital for the sick, and water for the suffering village folk. That is why today she's revered as the mother of the world. I feel this is the stellar example of Vatsalya Prema – reaching that exalted height of almost becoming Vishwa Prema.

AD: Very true!

BP: I think we have had a lot of discussion on Vatsalya Prema. What do you say, Rangarajan Sir?

GSS: Yes, it's been very nice. I think all of us reinforce the thoughts that each one expresses. But again, coming to the same point as in the other cases, how can you love without allowing this attachment to the physical form getting into it as an obstacle?

I'm reminded of a wonderful story relating to a mother and a child that Swami talks about. There was a young child staying with his mother in a forest. Then, it so happened that the mother had passed away one morning. The boy was uncontrollably sobbing, crying out, “Mother, why did you leave me?”

A sage happened to pass by. Here was a challenge – how to console this child. So the sage went to this young lad and said, “Child, why are you crying?”

“My mother has left me and gone,” he replied.

The sage said, “Where has she gone? She's there, she's lying down.”

“No, no, she has gone.”

Then, the sage told the child, “See, if you're crying for the physical body of your mother, it has not gone anywhere, it is lying there. But if you're weeping for the life force which was embodied in that form, which was talking to you and loving you, then, don't worry, that life force can never die.”

The sage continued, “Either way, you have no reason to cry. If it's for the form, the form is there; if it's for the life force, the life force never dies.”

This is a very beautiful way in which Swami explains that unless love connects to the cosmic source in the form of the glue that gets us back to that oneness, it always has some sort of flaw in it. Nevertheless, as we have seen, Vatsalya Prema is one of the highest forms of love that one could ever find in the world.


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 - Radio Sai team 

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