Volume 10 - Issue 05
MAY 2012
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Posted on : May 26, 2012


Mr. S. Sai Giridhar


hat is the purpose of an Avatar? How do we move from Form to Formless? These are some of the potent and thought-provoking topics that Sai Giridhar of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning dwelt on at the concluding session of the colloquium 'Experiencing the Divine – The Form to the Formless' held on the occasion of Sri Sathya Sai Aradhana Mahotsavam at Prasanthi Nilayam, April 23-25, 2012.

After rounding up his Masters degree at the University, Sai Giridhar returned to his alma mater, guided by Bhagawan to pursue a doctoral research programme in Chemistry. For many a decade his family has been visiting Prasanthi Nilayam and his memories of Bhagawan date back to his days of a pre-schooler when he was fortunate to have had two important ceremonies - aksharabhyasa (initiation into education) and upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony) performed by Bhagawan. Sai Giridhar is a native of Chennai.

In addition to pursuing his academic career, Sai Giridhar has taken up the role of a mentor in the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel and is also the Cultural Co-ordinator. Presented below is the transcript of the talk he delivered in Sai Kulwant Hall on the evening of April 25, 2012.


Mookam Karoti Vachalam
Pangoom Langhayate Girim
Yatkripa Tamaham Vande
Paramanand Madhavam

The One who is capable of making the mute speak, the One who is capable of commanding the lame to cross the Himalayan range, the very thought of Whom fills us with paramananda (supreme transcendental bliss) to that Lord of Lords, my most beloved Bhagawan, my humble salutations.

To all the wonderful sparks of divinity, a loving Sai Ram to all of you. In the given time today we shall deliberate on a few questions. What is the purpose of an Avatar? When we say that we have to move from Form to Formless whose Form are we talking about? What is the Form of God and how do we make this transition from Form to Formless.

The Purpose of an Avatar

The first question is what is the purpose of Avatar? When couple of our professors discussed this very same question, they got a doubt. Rama Avatar came in Treta Yuga. But we see that in the Dwapara yuga that followed it, dharma apparently declined. After Dwapara Yuga when Lord Krishna left His mortal coil Kali Yuga followed and again dharma declined. But the Lord Himself has said that when there is decline in dharma I shall manifest again and again! Then what is the dharma which the Lord has come to establish?

That evening they had assembled in Mandir here in Prasanthi Nilayam and Bhagawan out of the blue summoned for the table to deliver a discourse. That day Bhagawan said these very words: “There are people who think what is the dharma that God has come to establish.” He said, “Is it Deha dharma or is it Para dharma? Does He teach you how to live an ideal life alone? What is the dharma that God has come to establish?” Bhagawan continued: “God comes as an Avatar to establish Prema dharma - to establish love in the hearts of the devotees.”

avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba avatar sathya sai baba

If Lord Sri Rama wouldn’t have taken Avatar, would we have had a Tyagaraja who would inspire millions to follow his path of love to God? If Lord Krishna wouldn’t have manifested in that most beautiful form would Mother Meerabai and Shri Ramanujacharya ever be able to spread their message of love for God thousands of years later? If Jesus wouldn’t have appeared to speak about the glory of His Master and His Father would there be millions of followers of Jesus who have installed love and compassion in their hearts now?

The purpose of the Avatar is not merely to show man how to lead an ideal life, to set up marvelous models and institutions like the Super Speciality Hospital, the educational institutions and so on. Agreed they are all marvelous models for humans to emulate but the purpose of the Avatar is much beyond - it is to bring the transformation of the heart. The Avatar that we are talking about today is our most beloved Bhagawan; it is impossible even if all the minds in the entire cosmos come together to comprehend what He is. It is only possible if He tells us, if He reveals the secret of His Avatar to us and He did so through a story.

Once a devotee asked Bhagawan: “Swami, what is Tripura Rahasyam?” Bhagawan smiled and said, “Let me tell you a story.” He continued, “Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara once had a doubt. Now if we have a doubt we can go to our teacher, if great Masters have a doubt they approach Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara but if these Lords themselves have a doubt whom will they approach? Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara approach the Shakti or Tripura Devi who created them, the Shakti that manifested them. Mother Tripura Devi humbly submitted and said, "Even I do not have answers to your questions".

“But I do know where you can find an answer to this question of yours. So she took Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara of that Brahmanda (universe) to a location. It had a huge gateway and she flung it open and in there they saw a long hallway.”

Swami then said, “On the both sides of the hallway there were thousands of thrones and the four legs of the thrones were Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara and Tripura Devi. These three Gods who had this doubt in their mind were stunned to see thousands of Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwaras and Tripura Devis. They thought they were alone but then they were more inquisitive to see whom were they prostrating to. At the end of the hallway they saw a beautiful Lotus Feet and when they craned their neck to see who that personality was, they saw Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya tripura rahasya

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a Cosmic Avatar, He is the Adi Purusha who manifested Himself to become Shakti and that Shakti in turn manifested into many Tripura Devi’s and each one initiated a creation. Even science recognizes today that there could be several universes in parallel. There are many Brahmandas (universes) and the Adi Purusha (Primordial Being) who manifested the Adi Shakti to initiate creation, the Power who willed to manifest into many Brahmandas Itself came here on this beautiful Earth as a Cosmic Visitor.” Such is the beautiful Form of the Lord.

Bhagawan says: “The Form of an Avatar is nothing but the concretization of the penance of love and sacrifice of the devotees.” He appears to us as we want to see Him; He is the concretization of our love, our penance. Now the question comes - how can I ask a devotee to relinquish such a beautiful Form of the Lord? How can I ask a devotee to give up such a lovable Form of our Lord?

The Simplest Way of Connecting with Divinity

In interviews which Bhagawan gave, we all know how beautifully He would set an example for all of us. He would open the door, call everybody inside, allow everybody to go in and only then would Himself go in. And then He would turn on the fan, close the door behind, come and take His seat, and finally begin talking. A perfect host He was!

Once in an interview given to a student, everything happened the same way, except for one. After closing the door behind, instead of asking 'emi samacharam (what’s the news?), Swami thundered: “How long will you go behind this body of Mine? How long will you cage Me in this physical body? Learn to see the Unseen Force that is driving this body itself.”

The student who was by now stunned and surprised by Bhagawan’s words, who lived all this while out of pure love and devotion for His physical Form pleaded with Bhagawan, saying “Swami, but I don’t know how to connect to that Unseen, I know only You in this beautiful physical Form. Please tell me the secret of connecting to you through the unmanifest, the unseen, the eternal.”

Bhagawan said, “All My life I have been telling you only this and you still ask Me this question again?” Swami then continued: “The only way, the simplest way, the most beautiful way for a devotee to connect to this Unseen Power, the Eternal Power of Divinity, is Love.”


Bhagawan once narrated a beautiful story of Mother Radha and Krishna. Once Krishna returns to Brindavan after the Kurukshetra war and he goes to the banks of Yamuna in search of Radha and He sees that she is seated under a tree lost in her thoughts. So Krishna thought that He would surprise her; He slowly walks around the tree and suddenly jumps in front of Mother Radha, expecting that she would jump in joy and surprise. But to His utter dismay Mother Radha looked at Him and gave a smile.

Krishna said, “Radhe! I am your Krishna, I have come back for you.” Mother Radha’s face had a question mark; she said, “Come back for me?” She held Krishna’s hand and ran towards River Yamuna and picked up a palm full of water and showed it to Krishna and said, “Krishna, see in every drop of Yamuna is it not You who is there?”

She caught His hand again and ran back to the tree under which she was sitting and very carefully bent a branch and showed Him the leaves and said, “Look Krishna, in every leaf of this tree are You not the one who is there? In every blade of grass, are You not the One who is there? When You were always with me and all around me when did You leave that You are saying You have come back for me?”

Krishna immediately was overwhelmed by such unconditional love of Radha; He said, “Radhe, I am the Lord of the Universe. Ask, ask for anything and I will give it to you readily.”

And Radha said, “I don’t want anything from you.” He said, “Don’t you want even My love?” And then Radha said, “I know that I love you, I know that You are mine and You will always be mine, You are eternally mine. It doesn’t matter if You love me or not.”

At this point, Bhagawan says - it is a grand secret dear brothers and sisters - the Avatar for the first time fell on His knees, held Mother Radha’s hand and said, “Radhe, it is for the first time in My entire creation that I have received something from My devotee - unconditional love.” Bhagawan says this unconditional love is what will help us connect to Him.

How to Make the Transition from the Form to the Formless

How do we move from the Form to the Formless? What is the message in this story? When Bhagawan said 'Don’t run around this physical body' He wanted us to understand that the physical body is made of five elements and by His own divine design these five elements have to merge back into their source. But His form, His most beautiful Form, is not to be given up, it is to be enshrined by every devotee in their heart and the reflection of this is to be seen in the mind’s eye. And His most sacred and powerful name is to be integrated in our every breath, in our every activity till our very last moment. To move from Form to Formless is to enshrine His beautiful Form in our hearts.

Bhagawan says that all Forms are mine. Once revealing His true identity, Bhagawan said, “You know who I am? Sarva Roopa Dharam Shantam - I assume all the Forms yet I am Shantam.” What is Shanti? It is not the tranquility or peace that is determined by the amount of sugar in my cup of coffee, or that which fluctuates with whether I get recognition for my work or not. It is not that peace which goes up and down with the stock market. Bhagawan says: “Shanti is equanimity, to be equanimous in the face of duality and in the outcomes of duality in pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, success and failure – this is true Shanthi.”

“The yard stick to measure devotion of a devotee,” Swami says, “is to see the shanthi of a devotee.” Only that will determine how much devotion a devotee has.” So the measurement of how much devotion we have for the Lord, or how much love we have for Bhagawan, is determined by how equanimous we can be in the face of duality.

Many Names, One Form

Sarva Naama Dharam Shivam - All Names are mine. You can call Me by whatever Name and I will come running to you.”

Here I would like to narrate an extraordinary incident which happened last December. There was a gentleman who came from Indonesia. He is a devout Muslim. His guru Radeen Saheed was a Sufi saint who lived in the 15th century. He used to practice the teachings of his guru and the name that resounded in his heart and mind was ‘Allah ho Akbar’.

  sharva dhrma sathya sai baba

When he came to Prasanthi Nilayam as part of a team which was here to study the wonderful education system which Bhagawan has designed, he had an extraordinary experience. He was seated in the moral class which happens every Thursday in the University. And after this presentation during which a distinguished elderly devotee had spoken on the nature of the Avatar, our beloved Bhagawan, he comes to me and says, “So does Sai Baba often come to you and give messages like this?”

I said, “What are you saying?”

He said, “Does Sai Baba often come to you and give such beautiful benedictions?”

I said, “Did you see Sai Baba?”

Brothers and sisters, this gentleman has never come to Prasanthi Nilayam earlier and before he reached here he did not know anything about Swami. And then he continued, “Yes, when the talk was going on, in the huge chair which you have kept on the stage, I saw Him come and sit there. And after the talk was over He got up, came in front and stood with His hand raised in blessing like granting abhayahasta. He stood like this and spoke to us. He then said 'move from every body to every soul. Move from every soul to one soul, and move from one soul to God.'”

An extraordinary experience this gentleman from Indonesia had, but what a profound message Bhagawan was giving us, ‘Call Me by any name I will be there for you’.

Last year some of us had gone to Badrinath and we happened to meet a yogi who spoke to us at length about Bhagawan and he said, “You will be mistaken if you think that Bhagawan is far away from you.” “No,” he said. “It is very, very easy to bring Bhagawan close to you.”

So we were all eager to know how. “Very simple,” he said. This is an assurance which Bhagawan Himself has given and if you practice, it will happen. “First purify your thoughts, then forget everything about everything else, dive your mind deep into your heart, fill your heart with love and call out once ‘Sai Ram’ and Bhagawan will come rushing to you.”

Bhagawan’s True Form

But what is His Form? He has assumed all the Forms, yet He is Shantam. Why is He Shantam? Why is He equanimous? The root cause for duality is identification with the body. The moment I think I am this body, I am different from this podium or microphone or for that matter different from you all. Bhagawan says, “I have assumed all the Forms, yet I do not identify Myself with any single Form.”

Sarva Roopa Dharmam Shantam - So what is His true Form then?

Sat Chita Ananda Roopam Advaitam. Swami says: “Please understand I am only One.” This whole drama of life and creation is a monoact. And how wonderfully He is playing His roles! What variety, emotions, and grandeur this creation has and every single role in this entire universe is played by only One and One alone! And He says: “My true Form is Sat Chit Ananda.” Sat means truth, that which does not change with time. The next interesting word for us is ananda, how will we experience ananda or bliss? The secret is the word in between chit. Chit means awareness. But awareness of what?

giridhar radiosai  
Mr. Sai Giridhar speaking on the concluding day of Sri Sathya Sai Aradhana Mahotsavam at Prasanthi Nilayam, April 25, 2012.

Sureshwara Acharya, one of the prime disciples of Sri Adi Shankara, formally known as Mandana Mishra, wrote a beautiful treatise called 'Naish Karmya Siddhi', after he understood in depth what advaita (non-dualistic philosophy) meant. In his writing, he gives us the secret of awareness. Chit, which is awareness, is the link between sat and ananda. Now, ananda or bliss is a manifestation of sat (truth). But how do I manifest truth (sat) in the form of ananda and awareness? He explains this in a simple way. He says when you are walking on the road you see a stone. Now the object is there and you see it too. But if you are not thinking about it, then you will trip over the stone and fall. But if you see the stone and immediately have thoughts associated with the stone, you become aware of the stone and then walk around it. Chances are that you might even pick it up and put it aside so that nobody else gets hurt accidentally.

Sureshwara Acharya says that the secret to awareness is the object and the thoughts associated with objects. God, Brahman, Atman, or Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is omnipresent, the object of awareness is present everywhere. He pervades the entire cosmos, every single atom of it. For us to become aware of His presence in our life, for us to become aware of His presence in every single atom in this world, we have to have ‘smarana’ that is, thoughts associated with Him. We have to constantly think of Bhagawan. This is a secret also revealed by Prahlada. What did he do? He constantly thought of Lord Narayana. So when troubles came by, all he did was intensely pray and Lord Narayana Himself was there! So, the secret to awareness, the key to manifestation of truth or Sathya is thinking about the Lord constantly.

Sathya Shivam Sundaram

But Swami did not stop with this. After Sarva Roopa Dharam Shantam, Sarva Naama Dharam Shivam, and Sat Chit Ananda Roopa Advaitam. He went on to say Sathyam Shivam Sundaram - the three ways in which the Divinity is recognized.

What is the correlation with His true Form of Sat Chit Ananda? Sat or truth, the non-changing entity is Sathyam, which is none other than Sathya Sai Himself. Now if Sathyam has to manifest in the beautiful form of Sundaram in our lives, what is required is Shivam. So, we should cultivate auspicious thoughts, and participate in auspicious activities with constant contemplation of the Lord.

Ananyas Chintayantomam
Ye Janah Paryupasathe
Tesham Nithyabhiyuktanam
Yoga Kshemam Vahamyaham

This is the assurance which the Lord gave: “Constantly think of Me then Sathya Sai will become manifest in Sundaram, in the most beautiful Form in our lives, in our consciousness.”

To conclude I want to submit a prayer which I made to Bhagawan and the answer which I got for it.

I prayed, “Swami, I want to see You.” And Swami replied, “I want to see through you.”

I prayed, “Swami, I want to hear Your nectarine and golden sweet voice.”

sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue sathya sai baba statue

Swami replied, “I want to render nectar and sweetness to your voice by speaking through you.”

It is only later I realized that what I was asking for and what the Lord Himself was telling me was one and the same. If we allow the Lord to see through us, we will see nothing but Himself. For when the Lord saw us He did not see us as separate from Him. He saw us as Himself! So if He sees through us, all that we see will be Bhagawan Himself. If He speaks through us, who is the first person to listen to Him? The first hearing instrument closest to my mouth is my own ear. So when Lord speaks through me I will listen to His golden nectarine sweet voice.

With this prayer that Bhagawan should see through all of us, speak through all of us, live through all of us and love through all of us, I seek His permission to conclude today’s talk.

Jai Sai Ram.


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