Volume 10 - Issue 08
August 2012
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Posted on : Aug 24, 2012

satsang with a techie


Part 01 || Part 03 || Part 04 || Part 05 || Part 06 || Part 07 || Part 08

Dear Reader,

Sairam and welcome to the second episode of “Satsang with a Techie”. This satsang started with an accidental meeting in a restaurant in Bengaluru between two childhood friends, Varun, a techie who lives in Bengaluru and Vivek, an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning who has settled down in Prasanthi Nilayam to dedicate his life in the service of Baba.

Following the chance meeting, Varun becomes somewhat curious about spirituality and agrees to come to Prasanthi for the weekend to continue his education in spirituality.

Saturday arrives and Varun is in Prasanthi greeting Vivek. This is set in 2009. Over now to both of them:


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VARUN: Hi Vivek, here I am in your Ashram, exactly as I promised!

VIVEK: Hello Varun, so nice to see you here in Prasanthi, something which I never dreamt would ever happen. But first thing first. Did you have breakfast? And, if you don’t mind my asking you, did you go for Darshan?

VARUN: Yes, I had breakfast, and yes, I did go for Darshan too.

VIVEK: Great! How was the Darshan experience?

VARUN: You know Vivek, to tell you the truth, it was a quiet, sobering and above all, a very elevating and calming experience.

VIVEK: Wow! Frankly, I never expected those words from you!

VARUN: Honestly Vivek, back in Bangalore, behind all the glamour of a techie’s life, there is nothing but rushing, pushing and finally crashing!

It starts as a rat race, and when you do not know that you are yourself a rat and running for life, it appears very exciting. But soon it dawns on you that you are trapped, and are running not for money, career advancement, achievement and things like that, but for sheer survival. To tell you the truth, the glamour wears out pretty fast, once you know you have become a bonded slave!

VIVEK: Boy, those are very strong words! Something most unusual must have happened this morning for you to come out like this. It almost seems as if a pressure cooker is bursting. Tell me, what was it that happened during Darshan that made you talk the way you just did?

VARUN: Nothing very specific I must say. However, there was something amazingly calm, soothing, gentle, and quietly elevating about Darshan. There were all these people, thousands of them, and I could see that they had come not only from all parts of the country but even many corners of the world.

There they were all, seated quietly and waiting anxiously in expectation. When I first saw that scene, I was not only struck by the silence as well as the discipline, but also by the expectation. That feeling was written large on every face, and believe me, I never knew that anxious waiting could have so many shades and varieties.

VIVEK: What happened then?

VARUN: Well, suddenly there was some kind of an electric wave sweeping through the huge hall, with everyone sitting up straight and craning their necks towards the West, as if they expected something from that direction.

VIVEK: And did some music start over the PA system just then?

VARUN: That’s right; it did and I am sorry I forgot to mention that; also, some chanting – I guess it was Veda chanting. And the next thing that happened was that we all saw Baba coming from that direction. Instantly, the mood in the entire hall went up by one gear.

VIVEK: What do you mean?

VARUN: The anxiety and anticipation that earlier prevailed was all gone and everyone was smiling broadly and eagerly leaning forward or craning their necks to get a good look.

VIVEK: Anything else that struck you?

VARUN: Yes of course.

VIVEK: What was that?

VARUN: Well, the astonishing thing was that as Baba – I guess you people here call Him Swami – as He gently glided along, the people in the Hall continued to remain silent; there were whispers of course, but none of the commotion that one sees in temples or even at the Darshan given by various Gurujis.

VIVEK: Why do you think people remained silent while Swami was giving Darshan?

VARUN: Honestly, I do not know. What I do know is that people in crowds generally behave like herds and tend to be noisy, and somewhat indisciplined.

VIVEK: And over here?

VARUN: Over here, they all seemed as if they were answering to the call of some unknown Higher Being!

VIVEK: What about you?

VARUN: I was of course totally new to all this and did not have a clue of what to expect. I guess I was just swept along, half of me absorbed in wondering about the magic of Swami that cast such a spell and the other half wondering how I, a confirmed disbeliever in Spirituality and all that stuff, was responding the way I did!

Tell me Vivek, is what I described something unusual, or something I am imagining, or is it real and quite common out here?

VIVEK: Varun, unknown to yourself, you have just given a beautiful description of your first encounter with your own real Self!

VARUN: Oh my God! Here I am describing something beautiful I had experienced for the first time, and when I ask you about it, you begin talking like one of those nut guys!

VIVEK: Hold on Varun, do not jump to hasty conclusions. This is the right juncture to introduce you to Spirituality, and when you pick up some of the basics, you would understand and appreciate what exactly it was that I was just saying to you.

VARUN: Let me ask you directly: Are you saying that what I felt was part of a Spiritual experience?

VIVEK: That’s exactly right!

VARUN: But listen, there was no mumbo jumbo, no rituals, no cash collection, etc.

VIVEK: Who told you that’s what Spirituality is all about?

VARUN: No one in particular told me that, but that is the general impression I got by watching many people and such events, including on TV.

VIVEK: Well, all that impression is utterly wrong, and you have come to the right place to get it all straight; and let me say that the Darshan you have had, has given you a great start.

VARUN: Listen, stop talking in riddles, and get to the point straight, would you please?

VIVEK: I think it is about time I did so, for otherwise your frustration would shoot up to such a high level that I might lose you altogether! OK, what is your perception of Spirituality?

VARUN: You tell me; you are supposed to be the expert, and remember, you called me over here so that you could tell me a thing or two about it. So, the ball is really in your court!

VIVEK: Fair enough! Let me start by asking whether or not you believe that there is a thing called the Human Spirit?

VARUN: I don’t know if it exists for sure, but I do know that people talk about it often. Like for example, when our cricket team just caves in to an opposing team and gets thrashed without even trying to put up any fight, everyone goes around cursing and saying, “What happened to these fellows? They did not show any Spirit? Look at those overseas teams! They always play such a spirited game; they dive to save every run, put such fire into every ball they bowl, and pack so much power into every shot they hit!

VIVEK: Good! So at least in cricket, you agree that one could talk of a thing called the Spirit. By the way, the Spirit is not a cooked up idea or an imaginary thing. There is some strange thing within each of us, a mysterious power which, if we are able to tap, enables us to do amazing things.

VARUN: Such as what?

VIVEK: Well, here is an example I heard a doctor from Bombay describe. There was an accident to a suburban train and many people were injured. They were all rushed to various hospitals in the neighbourhood, and two people of middle age were brought to this doctor’s hospital.

The doctor said that the injury these two people had suffered was more or less similar. Further, they had the same physical constitution and all that, and the injury was serious; however, there were good chances of recovery too.

The doctor continued, “I assured both patients that I would do my best and with God’s Grace they sure would pull through. However, while one patient kept saying, ‘I am not going to live, God will not save me, I will die, etc.,’ the other injured man felt highly optimistic and kept repeating, ‘I am not going to die; God is sure to save me!’

“In the end the patient who had hope survived, while the one who refused to have hope died. I gave the same treatment to both, but one patient took help from his Inner Spirit while the other refused to.”

VARUN: OK, but what exactly is it that you are driving at?

VIVEK: Well, my first point is that there is within us — every single one of us without exception I might add - a mysterious power that we call the Spirit.

VARUN: And what does this Spirit do?

VIVEK: This Spirit, which sometimes is referred to as the Human Spirit, does many things. It helps one to bite the bullet and come through very adverse circumstances. It aids one to hang on to hope and survive through impossible situations; this has happened to sick people as well as to adventurers who were caught up in dangerous situations from which there appeared to be no escape.

VARUN: Anything else we can give credit for to this Spirit, as you call it?

VIVEK: Plenty; it is the Spirit that drives many to do astonishing feats, explore the remote corners of the earth, dive deep into the ocean to learn of its mysteries, or venture into Space.

VARUN: Gosh, I never knew all this came from the inspiration provided by the Spirit and by drawing upon its power.

VIVEK: Hold on, I have not exhausted my list!

VARUN: You mean there is more?

VIVEK: Of course, and plenty too!

VARUN: Amazing! Go on please.

VIVEK: Well, for one thing, the urge for exploration and discovery springs from the Human Spirit; in a sense, art too is a kind of adventure, involving exploration in the realm of creativity.

VARUN: OK, anything else?

VIVEK: Sure.

VARUN: What is that?

VIVEK: Well, that involves exploring something within which is the infinite, sublime, and blissful.

VARUN: I am not sure I quite understand you, but even if what you are saying is true, what is the connection between that and Spirituality?

VIVEK: In a manner of speaking, Spirituality is all about exploring that infinity within.

VARUN: OK, I shall temporarily accept that and put that idea on hold; but tell me, why should a busy person like me bother about looking inside for this infinity, as you call it? What’s there in it for me?

VIVEK: [laughs] What’s there in it for me? That is what people ask all the time! But Varun, do you realise, this infinity about which you seem to be so very sceptical is the REAL YOU?

VARUN: [totally surprised] What? What on earth do you mean by saying that something which I am not even sure exists, is the REAL ME? What about the person sitting in front of you, bearing the name Varun, a techie with an MBA, and so on? I mean, what do you mean by ignoring all that?

VIVEK: Calm down buddy, those are the knotty questions that need to be sorted out. Be patient, listen carefully, and one by one your doubts and questions would all be taken care.

VARUN: [shaking his head as if very doubtful] I am not too sure, but shall hold my horses for the moment. Alright, go ahead with whatever you were trying to say.

VIVEK: Thanks a lot. Let me begin by mentioning that what is described as Spirituality is, in a sense, nothing but the science of the Human Spirit. Believe it or not, human inquiry into the nature of the Spirit began long before religions made their appearance.

VARUN: Really?

VIVEK: Yes indeed. You see, soon after they moved out of the caveman phase, ancients in all parts of the globe began to wonder about all that they saw around them, and how they were related to it all. They asked questions like: “What is the meaning of all this wonderful diversity and phenomena I see around me? Where did it all come from? Where did we humans come from? How am I related to it all? In fact, is there any relationship at all?”

VARUN: But listen, what has all that got to do with Spirituality?

VIVEK: My dear friend, why don’t you be a bit patient and give me a chance? This is a difficult topic and one has to go through it all, slowly. Agree?

VARUN: OK, I agree.

VIVEK: Very good then. So, as I was telling you, ancients almost all over the globe began wondering about what they saw around them, above them, below them and their relationship to it all.

VARUN: And this wonderment, as you call it, was half the time in terms of questions posed to themselves?

VIVEK: That is right and what we call knowledge, emerged from the distillation and refinement of the answers they found, over a period of time, of course. Broadly speaking, there were two categories of knowledge they gathered; one was largely connected to the world they lived in, and how to survive in that world.

VARUN: And what was the other category all about?

VIVEK: I am coming precisely to that. It dealt largely with how this great system that we call Nature ran? I mean, they wondered who makes the Sun to rise and then to set? Who decides, if there is actually some such agency, that it shall rain during some periods and it shall not during other periods? Why does the earth shake violently all of a sudden? Who, if there is any such being, has become angry and has decided to shake the earth?

VARUN: You mean to say these kind of questions were asked all over the world?

VIVEK: Of course, and there is plenty of evidence for that. For example, people in China, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece, all learnt to track the stars across the sky and that was how they were able to make almanacs, predict eclipses, even the time of sunrise and sunset, and of course the high and the low tides.

VARUN: OK, from what you say, these ancients in various lands, were able to deduce patterns of various kinds, sometimes even complex patterns, relating to diverse natural phenomena.

VIVEK: Correct, and that is how the foundations were laid for astronomy in many old civilisations.

VARUN: But Spirituality….

VIVEK: Hold on, hold on! I am slowly coming to that. You see Varun, slowly people began to see patterns, then some empirical rules behind those patterns, and after that connections between different patterns and so on.

VARUN: Just a second please. What do you mean connection between patterns?

VIVEK: Well, they found that rains came during certain periods of the year when the stars were in certain position in the sky. From such observations, they realised that there was some connection between seasons, the movement of the Sun across the constellations, and so on.

VARUN: Oh I see. But where did all that lead them to?

VIVEK: That is an important question and it connects humanity right to the present.


VIVEK: In the following manner. The search for answers to certain kinds of questions led slowly to what we call Science. For example, an astronomer called Tycho Brahe spent many decades, patiently sitting up every night watching the skies, and recording the positions of all kinds of stars and planets he could identify.

VARUN: OK, Tycho lost a lot of sleep, but what good did that do?

VIVEK: Plenty of good. A little later a man named Kepler put it all together and deduced that all the planets moving around our Sun followed three simple laws.

VARUN: Oh, you mean Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, don’t you? We studied that in school and college.

VIVEK: That’s exactly right; and you remember of course, what happened after that.

VARUN: Indeed I do. Newton came along, gave three basic laws which explained not only the motion of planets but in general the motion of bodies moving and responding to forces acting on them.

VIVEK: Right; and Newton, if you recall, added icing on the cake by discovering the existence of the gravitational force, which suddenly enabled us to understand in one sweep, a whole lot of things happening in the sky, both near and far.

VARUN: So what you are saying is that one type of enquiry led to scientific knowledge.

VIVEK: Exactly, and as you well know, that enquiry has greatly enriched mankind and has not stopped yet because there is so much to know.

VARUN: I have to agree strongly because after all, I owe my job to such knowledge.

Listen, it has no doubt been interesting talking about all this, but these are things we both know. I still fail to connect all this to the question I am seeking an answer to…

VIVEK: I know. Your question is: “But what has all this got to do with Spirituality? Right?”

VARUN: You got it; that indeed is the question that is bothering me.

VIVEK: Before I deal with that question, let me ask you if you have ever heard of a person called Steven Weinberg?

VARUN: No, I have not. Who is he, and why should I know about him?

VIVEK: Well, Steven Weinberg is a brilliant physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics – actually, he shared it with two other brilliant guys, Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salaam – for his role in the discovery of what is called electro-weak unification.

This brilliant man once said: 'The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless!' Varun, do you think so? Do you believe there is no purpose behind Creation?

VARUN: You know Vivek, these are questions I never thought about; how can I? Where is the time? I don’t think you know anything about a rat race!

VIVEK: We will come to rat races later, but meanwhile, let me ask you if you have heard of Stephen Hawking?

VARUN: What do you mean? Who has not?

VIVEK: You have? That’s good. Now here is what this great scientist says:

“We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the Universe? What is our place in it and where did it come from? Why is it the way it is?”

OK, that is the remark of Hawking; what does that say to you?

VARUN: Looks like some of the questions ancient man asked are still with us; that is how I read the signal.

VIVEK: You are right. Varun, over thousands of years, mankind has made a lot of progress where questions related to the external world are concerned. But about certain other matters, there is a gulf.

VARUN: Gulf? What kind of gulf, and between what and what?

VIVEK: The gulf is between those who focus heavily on the external world, ignoring certain issues for a variety of reasons, and others, who are less bothered about the external world and look deep within.

VARUN: Vivek, I am afraid you have lost me!

VIVEK: I am referring to the gulf between people who concentrate on Spirituality, and those for whom Spirituality is at best a waste of time, and at worst, a lot of bunk. By the way, I have to tell you that until the time of the Renaissance, Science and Spirituality actually went hand in hand, being closely intertwined. Actually, Newton, a giant in his days and even now one might say, was a very religious man. These days, however, Science and Spirituality are almost divorced; the parting of ways started soon after the Renaissance and presently, the separation is almost complete.

VARUN: Vivek, what exactly is the point you are making?

VIVEK: What I am trying to convey is that in earlier times, Spirituality was not regarding something as different from Science, or, for that matter, unrelated to daily life.

VARUN: So, Spirituality does not mean withdrawing from the world and all that – is that what you are trying to convey?

VIVEK: Exactly! On the contrary, Spirituality is very much needed in daily life.

VARUN: What makes you say that?

VIVEK: The answer is quite simple. You see Varun, Spirituality boils down to basic values, and surely we cannot banish values from daily life, can we?

VARUN: There is something in what you say, and maybe we can come back to it later.

VIVEK: We certainly must do that. Meanwhile, have you looked at your watch? It is almost lunch time!

VARUN: You are right Vivek!

VIVEK: I think we should grab some lunch after which you could rest for a while. It would then be time for afternoon Darshan, etc.

VARUN: So can we meet after evening Bhajans, have a bit of supper and then go for a long walk, and talk as we walk?

VIVEK: Sounds great, and that’s what we shall do.

VARUN: OK, come along, let’s go for lunch!





Illustrations: Saikaustuv Dasgupta

- Team Radio Sai

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