Volume 11 - Issue 01
January 2013
Other Articles

'Like' us on Facebook Follow us: facebook twitter vimeo youtube
Font Size
Posted on : Jan 30, 2013


Prof. G. Venkataraman


listen now audio download pdf download



part 04


part 01 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 02 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 03 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman part 04 of occasional musings by prof. g. venkataraman

The idea of doing one’s duty has existed from ancient times and in all societies, though in varying degrees. Thus kings had their duties and so did ministers, administrators, soldiers etc., down the line. And so it is that we find in London the famous statue of Lord Nelson who declared that England expects every man to do his duty. The beauty about the Bhagavad Gita is that it defines duty in the larger context of the Divinity latent in us humans. Not merely that, the Gita also wants us to make sure that everything we feel, think, say or do, also has the flavour of the Divinity latent in us. That is the important point; that is the essence of the Prema Tathwa or Love Principle that Swami discoursed on so many times, indeed over 70 long years.

Let me attempt a very quick recap of what Swami taught us. And the simplest way is by going back to the Discourse Clip that was screened here on X’mas evening (2012) – those of you who were tuned to the live streaming would have seen this clip. Swami’s essential point was about the way man searches for God. He said that man is going all over the place looking for God, without realising that God is there right within him. Swami then asked: “Would you go looking around in search of yourself? Would you ask someone you meet on the way, ‘Sir, have you seen me anywhere? If so, please can you tell me where you saw me?’ To do so would be utterly ridiculous, but that precisely is what most devotees are doing all the time!”

What Swami was driving at was that all our speech-making, pilgrimages, so-called sadhana camps, service programs and so on are bereft of meaning unless every feeling, thought, word and deed is intimately linked to the fundamental fact that at the core, all of us have Divine Spark. I have heard any number of Discourses but hearing this one again after a long time, this particular sentence was, to me, absolutely electrifying! Allow me please to explain why.

Throughout, Swami has always hammered in the following truths:

1. First realise that there IS a Spark of Divinity in you.

2. Next, appreciate that this same Divine Spark is present in every single entity in Creation, which automatically means that God obviously is also in all fellow beings.

3. Remembering that God is Love and Love is God, make sure that when you go out into the world – and you cannot escape this – your feelings, thoughts, words and actions are not tainted by any undesirable trait that could range from anger all the way to jealousy, ego, selfishness and self-interest.

4. All traits take root in the mind before manifesting as actions and words. Hence, you must be very careful about safeguarding the mind from spiritual infection.

5. The best protection is the constant chanting of God’s Name. The choice of the Name is left entirely to you. However, as a line in the bhajan, 'Govind bolo, Gopal bolo' stresses, make sure you always call out the Name of your choice with Pure Love and deep feeling!

It is pertinent to offer a few remarks on the above as they are very important. And this I shall do by going back to the 12th Chapter of the Gita, where there is a discussion between Arjuna and Krishna regarding the best way to worship God. Krishna says that there are basically two ways; one is to directly go inwards and the other is to journey to the inward via an outward path. In practical terms, the first choice boils down to worship of God without Form, while the second choice begins with the worship of God with Form, and thereafter slowly graduating to the worship of the Formless God. Krishna then adds, “Arjuna, for you the latter path is preferable.” To put it differently, the former is the so-called Inward path and is referred to as Jnana Yoga while the latter or the outward-to-inward path is nothing but a suitable mix of Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, the mix being tailored to suit the individual.

If we keep all of the above in mind, along with what Swami said in the Discourse played on X’mas day, we can paraphrase the essence of what Swami says as follows:

Bangaru! Remember, a sprinter who is doing a 100 meter dash is totally focussed on the finish line, right from the moment when he gets set on the starting block. Likewise, you too must never forget for a moment that your goal is God, and also that God is already in you; indeed, I have called attention to that in My Discourses, times without number.

Now it follows that if God is in you, He is in all others too. Hence, when dealing with others be careful with your thoughts, words and actions. You may not be aware of it, but even thoughts can cause harm for they are very powerful.

Thoughts are extremely potent because they are born in the mind which has been bestowed with enormous power by God. Few appreciate the fact that no other living being on earth has been given this incredible blessing and power. That is why birth with the human form is a rare blessing.

Now why has God given humans a mind with so much power? So that you may realise that behind the seen lies the unseen. In other words, though God cannot be directly seen around you be assured that His power is immanent in every single bit of Creation, from the atom to the galaxies, from the ant to the elephant.

Sadly, people fail to appreciate this and instead allow their minds complete freedom to think the way it wants, especially in a negative manner. Avoid that.

If a sprinter makes a bad start he is doomed to lose the race! In spirituality, however, even if you have started rather hesitantly, it does not matter, as long as you quickly develop faith in Me.

What exactly is the meaning of having faith in God? It means that you must earnestly believe that not only am I in you but also in every single entity in Creation – that is essential point about having total faith.

Once you realise that God is indeed Omnipresent and never forget that truth for even a moment, your life would change completely.

Often I tell you two things: 1. Help ever and hurt never, and 2. Love all and serve all. Everyone claps loudly but fails to look carefully at the fine print; and believe Me, there is a lot of it!

Hurt never means: Do not ever cause hurt in any form to anybody at any time, including via thought. Following that instruction would be a very good start. Having started on the right foot, try next to help whenever you can. It does not have to be a great piece of help, but if you offer that help with a radiant face and a good smile, that little help would always go a long away. The cake may be big but have you noticed that the icing is always a thin layer? But what a difference that icing makes!

Hence, always serve the other person with respect and Love, constantly telling yourself that Swami is in that person and that your service is actually reaching Me.

People routinely repeat the phrase, “Love all, serve all”. But it is amazing how quickly those very same people who give this advice soon become bossy, rude and bureaucratic when they are doing seva! Do you know why this happens? Because they do not see Swami in the person or persons they boss over. Nobody talks to Swami like that. They are always very loving and respectful but when it comes to seva including Narayana Seva, what often happens is that tasks are routinely performed - Narayana or the Lord is seldom seen in those who are served nor is He served the way He ought to be.

This is a clear symptom of dehabhimaanam or body-consciousness which, in practical terms, manifests as a feudal attitude. Is that what I asked of you? Whatever happened to the humility that was a part of the fine print?

I know Swami has never said all that in any single Discourse. What I have done is to bring together teachings of Sai from many places to make a coherent argument in the present context. In other words, what I have said above is a comprehensive paraphrase of the many things Swami has said at various times, mostly when talking about duty. Since duty is so vital for leading a useful and spiritual life, allow me please now to take a few more minutes to make some pertinent comments.

In the Gita, Krishna uses the term Swadharma while referring to duty; the word itself translates as ‘Dharma of the self.’ Technically this is an acceptable translation but problems arise when one tries to understand the term ‘self’. Such a difficulty arises because in spirituality there are really two different entities associated with the word ‘self’. Firstly there is the lower-self which is nothing but the individual wrapped up in ego due to spiritual ignorance or ajnana, and secondly there is the Higher or Realised Self, which is the individual who has a body but has shred body-attachment or dehabhimaanam.

Body-attachment goes when ajnana or spiritual ignorance is scrubbed away, following which the individual acquires a radiance that emanates from True Wisdom or Jnana latent within. The much talked about sadhana is all about spiritual scrubbing or refinement that elevates one from the lower-self to the Higher Self. For operational convenience, people often use the lower case ‘i’ to refer to the ego-self and the upper case ‘I’ to refer to the Higher Self or Realised Soul. Ramana Maharishi would be a good example of a Realised Soul.


Keeping this in mind, let us return to Krishna’s use of the word Swadharma. For Him, the prefix Swa automatically meant the Higher Self. In other words, when Krishna asked Arjuna to perform his duty, the subtext was that Arjuna ought to perform his duty in the spirit of a Realized Soul or the Higher Self. Most commentators appear to miss this point and have given lengthy commentaries relating duty to the lower-self, which clearly is incorrect.

You might at this point jump in to say: “Listen, 99.9999…% of us are NOT realised souls. What we want are guidelines about how to do our duty even as we are trapped in the lower-self.” Good point and that is where Krishna’s teaching of Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga come in. Via His advice ‘Love all and serve all’, Swami gave us that very same recipe that would guide us from the lower or ego-self to the Higher Self. In other words, Swami’s ‘formula’ is thus nothing but a beautiful amalgam of Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, tailored for this day and age.
For the sake of completeness let me also mention that Swami has, on various occasions, used the terms Atma Dharma and Mama Dharma (meaning my duty) in place of what Krishna referred to as Swadharma; stated differently, these three words are inter-changeable.

Once again: Swami does not want us to become recluses or ochre-robe wearing wandering monks. He allows us full freedom to serve Him in any walk of life, all the way from the President of a country and a super CEO to a simple fire-fighter, school teacher, a janitor and even a loving home-maker. We in the world make all sorts of distinctions between these and similar categories of people. From an outward point of view, certain protocols ARE necessary, which Swami Himself observed as required. However, when it came to dealing with these people as individuals I have seen Swami giving the most charming smile to a very poor person, even as He ignored a tycoon who had shown up mainly to beg for favours!

For Swami it was always very simple, and He made this point succinctly in the Gita Vahini. He says (paraphrase):

Life has to be lived on earth – there is no escape from it. And our feelings, thoughts, words and actions are mostly shaped and conditioned by what happens on earth and how they affect us. Our actions are perforce a response to all this, which is to be expected. However, and this is very important, the motivations for the actions should NOT be based on worldly considerations alone. Rather, they should spring from within and must be rooted firmly in eternal values namely, Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema and Ahimsa. Since these values are nothing but manifestations of the various aspects of the Atma, duty performed in this spirit is nothing but Atma Dharma. In other words, your actions must always reflect the nature of the Atma. That would happen only if you stay constantly tuned to Me. Your actions would then carry the fragrance of the blossoms of Heaven. If, however, you allow your mind to guide you, your actions would reflect the ego-self; and understandably, they would then carry the foul odour of selfishness and self-interest.

I think I have said more than enough. I apologize once more for making this a bit long; but then, there were so many things to share with you. I thank you all for your patience that is if you have been with me this long!

Please do share your thoughts and comments with us for they are always helpful, including when they are critical!

Offering this talk at the Lotus Feet, I now bring it to an end.

God bless and Jai Sai Ram.


- Team Radio Sai


counter for wordpress