Monday, March 15, 2010





This ordinary material world of beings, movable and immovable objects, should not be taken into account at all. You should have full faith in God, who is the Supreme One.” – Shri Sai Samartha Satcharita, Ch. 20, Ove 119.



A father took his four-year-old son to a fair. The child wore his best dress and was careful to see that it did not get spoilt.


Suddenly a cyclist dashed against the child who dropped down and hurt his elbow. The father picked up the sobbing child in his loving arms and, with a handkerchief, covered his bleeding arm.


The child cried all the more. And the father said to him, “you are a good child. And the elbow has not been very badly hurt. It will soon be healed.”


“Father, I am not crying over my elbow!” The son exclaimed. “I am crying over the shirt which has been torn. The elbow will be healed, but not the shirt.”


“But isn’t that wonderful?” said the father. “Suppose your elbow were like your shirt and would never heal?”


The son began to see things in a new light. “O, yes,” he said, “if the elbow were like the shirt, it would never heal. God has made us in a special way.” And the smile reappeared on his tear stained face.


We need to remind ourselves of this great truth that God has made us in a special way. Material things cannot be compared to the eternal.


Life is eternal: all things will pass away.


Are we putting more value on earthly things than on our divine life?




Sunday, March 14, 2010






Shirdi Sai Baba said, “It is not good to dispute and argue. So don't argue” in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch.X.


When the Kurukshetra war was over, pride entered the heart of Arjuna. He even thought that he was so great that Krishna had become his charioteer.


Arjuna felt that as a master, he must get down from the chariot  only after the charioteer had done so. He insisted that Krishna must get down first. Krishna was adamant.


Finally, Arjuna had to yield. Swallowing his pride, he got out of the chariot with great reluctance.


Now it was Krishna’s turn. As soon as He stepped down, the chariot went up in flames.


Arjuna was humbled as he realized that the deadly arrows and missiles that had struck the chariot were powerless so long as Krishna was in it. As soon as He left it, they had their natural effect and the chariot was reduced to ashes.


In everything that the Lord permits to happen, is a meaning of His mercy. We must not question: we must not argue. We must only obey, accept and rejoice!










Shirdi Sai Baba said, "You need not go that far for it. This itself is our Prayag bank. Have strong faith in your heart” – Shri Sai Samartha Satcharita, Ch. 4, Ovi 103.

Satyavirta was a lovely little village, situated about four miles to the north of the sacred river Ganga. Here lived a true bhakta of the Lord, called Punidhama.


From his early childhood, Punidama’s days had been spent in the devoted service of his guru, in the daily satsang, as also in attending to the needs of the hundreds of pilgrims and guests who came to the village to take the much cherished dip in the Ganges.


One day, two munis came to the village. Punidhama fell at their feet and welcomed them cordially. He gave them food to eat and provided lodging for them. His guests were offered every courtesy that was in his power.


Having rested sufficiently, they prepared to move on to the sacred river.


“How far is Mother Ganga from your place?” one of them asked Punidhama. “How long do you think it will take us to reach there?”


“It may be a distance of four or five miles,” replied Punidhama, a little hesitantly.


“Can you show us the best way to reach there as quickly as possible?” enquired the second muni.


“You must pardon my ignorance, holy masters,” Punidhama said to them I humility. “I do not know for sure which is the best way to reach the Ganga. I have never been to the river myself. They say it is not very far from here – but I don’t know about it!”


The munis were enraged! “Why, this fellow is a sinner – probably an atheist!” they said to themselves.  “Living so close to the sacred river, he has taken not a single dip in the holy waters. If only we had known this earlier, we would not have accepted his hospitality.”


With harsh words to Punidhama, they left his humble abode, spurning all his offers of assistance, swearing that they would find their way to the river on their own.


Still seething with anger, they headed towards the river.


“Imagine the miserable state of the sinner,” they said to each other self-righteously. “Living virtually on the shores of the holiest of rivers, he says he has never been to the river in his life!”


They walked and walked, but just could not find the river. They took wrong turns, headed in the opposite direction, asked for directions, reversed their footsteps – but they simply could not reach the river, which was supposed to be so near!


Wearily, they collapsed by the wayside at the end of a day of fruitless wandering.


In their exasperation, they offered a prayer, “Mother Ganga, show us the way! We have traveled from afar to fulfill the sacred obligation of a lifetime – to take a dip in your holy waters! Please show us the way to quench our intense longing to bathe in your most sacred and cleansing waters!”

That night, Mother Ganga appeared to them in their dream. She said to them, “You have spoken ill of my bhakta and therefore, you are unable to reach me. Punidhama is my true devotee. He does not have to come to me, because the Ganga of true devotion flows at his feet.”


The minis awoke, and felt ashamed of themselves. They retracted their steps to Punidhama’s abode and sought his forgiveness. Even as they bowed their heads in reverence before this true bhakta, lo and behold, they saw a vision of Mother Ganga herself.





Saturday, March 13, 2010




Shirdi Sai Baba said, “Where there is greed, there is no peace, no contentment, nor restfulness. All means (of achieving Brahman) turn to dust when avarice takes hold of the mind” in Shri Sai Samartha Satcharita, Ch. 17, Ove 70.


A hunter caught a beautiful rare bird in his net. Delighted with his catch, he locked it up in a cage, when suddenly, the bird spoke to him.


“O, hunter!” it said in its sweet, melodious voice, “I am such a tiny bird, that you will get nothing out of me. If you sell me, I shall fetch you but little. If you kill me and eat me, you will only get a tiny piece of flesh. But if you release me, set me free from this cage, I shall pass on to you three secrets of success. If you follow them, you are sure to be rich, prosperous and successful!”


Intrigued, the hunter let the bird out of the cage.


It flew up to the branch of a tree and promptly uttered its promised secrets, the first secret is this – never, never, never accept anything that goes against your common sense. The second – never, never cry over spilt milk. And the third – never ever attempt that which is impossible!”


The hunter was very annoyed.


“What a silly bird you are!” he cried. “I should never have released you. You are nothing but a worthless creature!”


“Worthless? Me?” cried the bird. “Why, if you cut my heart open, you will find a diamond larger than the famed Kohinoor!”


The hunter was beside himself with greed. He jumped up and scrambled all over the branches of the tree, as the little bird flew higher. There was no way he could get the bird, and eventually he fell down, bruised all over, with one leg broken!


“Let me repeat those three rules of success to you,” said the bird from the top of the tree. “I told you never to believe anything that goes against your common sense. Whoever has heard of a bird with diamond in its heart? You did not follow the first rule!


“Never cry over spilt milk – was the second rule I gave to you. You let me out of the cage and you regretted it later. What a wasteful gesture!


“The third rule, O, hunter – never attempt the impossible. Look at you now! You tried to catch a bird on a tree – and ended up with broken leg!”


“My time is up, and I must fly away,” concluded the bird. “But truly, you failed to benefit from the secrets of success that I taught you!”




Friday, March 12, 2010




Use measured words in talking. Do not talk much. Try to finish a conversation within a few minutes. Understand the nature of the man rightly. When he enters your office or house for an interview speak politely and with great respect for the man. Then send him away immediately and conserve your energy.


Do not indulge in long unnecessary talks and discussions. Man is a social animal. He is prone to much talking. He is very garrulous. This talkative habit is ingrained in him and he is much troubled when he cannot get any company. He does not want to go in for seclusion.


The observance of mauna (silence) is death and capital punishment for him. Ladies are still more garrulous. They always create some kind of unnecessary quarrels in the house.


I always prescribe the practice of mauna for one and all, as this helps in the preservation of energy, development Of will and enjoyment of peace. All sorts of quarrels, misunderstandings, anger, etc., can be easily avoided by mauna for two hours daily and for six hours on Sundays, and for a full week on long holidays.


Even during other periods talk very few words. When you speak, speak gently and sweetly. During mauna you must live alone. Do not mix with other people. Do not even express your ideas with gestures.


The other channel by which energy is wasted, is the mind. This wastage is due to loose thinking, worrying, anger and fear. Just as energy is wasted in too much talk, so also energy is wasted in loose thinking.


If this mental energy is conserved, you will have at your disposal a tremendous store of energy. This you can utilise for various other purposes and sadhana (spiritual practice). If this energy is conserved you will feel that you are very powerful. You will feel no exhaustion even if you turn out tremendous work.


To do this you have to watch your thoughts very carefully, by introspection and meditation. You will have to divert the mental energy to useful thinking. There will be some struggle in the beginning. But after some time the mind will naturally think of auspicious and useful items.








Shirdi Sai Baba said, “If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them, with due respect. Shri Hari (God) will be certainly pleased, if you give water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and your verandah to strangers for sitting and resting” – in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. XVIII & XIX.


A thief broke into the house of a holy man. The thief was a poor man; he and his family had not taken food for some days. When the man of God learnt of it, he said to the thief, “In yonder drawer is a costly ring belonging to my wife. Take it and run before she comes and catches you! And may the peace of God be with you!”


The thief could not believe his ears. He rubbed his eyes, moved towards the drawer, took out the ring and disappeared in no time.


Soon, the wife returned and, discovering the loss, raises a hue and cry. To her husband, she said, “Someone has stolen my diamond ring costing fifteen thousand rupees.”


“I did not know it was worth that much!” he exclaimed, and immediately ran after the thief.


He overtook the thief and said to him, “Brother, I have come to tell you that the ring is worth over fifteen thousand rupees. Do not part with it for a lesser amount!”


The eyes of the thief were touched with tears. He found himself face to face with a new experience. He had never seen the semblance of such love. In a single moment, his life was changed; he became a new man. He fell at the feet of the man of God and said to him, “Forgive me, and accept me as your servant!”


The man of God was a true bhakta of the Lord. He was rich in wealth – the only wealth that counts – the wealth of love. He loved God with all the intensity of his being. To love the God is to do the Will of God. If there is one thing which God wills for us, it is this that we love our fellow-men as He Himself loves them. To love our fellow-men is to live for them and, if need be, to die for them! Such a life, as it unfolds, from day to day, becomes an unending love story – stranger, indeed, than fiction and richer than a romance!






Thursday, March 11, 2010




Shirdi Sai Baba said, “It is not enough merely to prostrate before the Jnanis. We must make Sarvaswa Sharangati (complete surrender) to the Sad-guru” in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. XXXIX .


A devotee of Krishna, filled with love of the Lord, moved along the streets of a town. He was so absorbed in singing the glories of God that he did not see what lay in front of him and trod over the clothes which the washermen had spread on the grass to dry.


Naturally the washermen were infuriated. They took sticks with which to beat the miscreant. In his sad plight, he cried, “Krishna! Save me!”


Krishna came running to the rescue of His devotee. Before He could reach him, the devotee had picked up stones from the ground to throw at the washermen. Krishna said, “If he thinks he can defend himself, let him do it.”


And Krishna quietly retired.







All physical tribulations, diseases, even leprosy and all other problems, which we have because of our actions in the previous birth, unless they are fully borne, we cannot be free from them, even by committing suicide.” – Shri Sai Samartha Satcharita, Ch. 26, Ove 138.


To the great Sufi teacher, Dhu-al-Nun, who, in his own days, was revered as a Qutab (Chief of Saints) and who was blessed with the power to work miracles, a friend wrote, “From my sick-bed, I appeal to you, O Friend of God, to pray for me that I may be relieved of this intolerable agony and soon become well again.”


Dhu-al Nun answered, “Beloved brother of the heart! You know not what you ask. How can I pray to God to take away His Grace from you?


“Veiled within the veil of affliction doth the Beloved come to us to bless us, to beautify our lives, to give us the only gifts that count – the gifts of the Spirit.


“So it is that the Sufis pray that sickness may be their constant companion. And the Sufis rejoice in the midst of misfortune. And with open arms, the Sufis welcome disapprobation of the crowd and calamity and disgrace.


“For such things truly lead to healing of the Spirit.


“Therefore my brother, I pray that God may make you ashamed of what you ask.


“And may He bless you that you may complain not, but, for every affliction, give gratitude to Him!


“The true lover of God entrusts all he is and all he has in the Safe Hands of Him whose Name is Compassion and Love!”









Nanasaheb Chandorkar was a good student of Vedanta. He had read Gita with commentaries and prided himself on his knowledge of all that. He fancied that Baba knew nothing of all this or of Sanskrit. So, Baba one day pricked the bubble.” – Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. XXXIX & L.


Once upon a time, there was a software engineer who used to develop programs on his Pentium machine, sitting under a tree on the banks of a river. He used to earn his bread by selling those programs in the Sunday market.


One day, while he was working, his machine tumbled off the table and fell in the river. Encouraged by the Panchatantra story of his childhood (the woodcutter and the axe), he started praying to the River Goddess.


The River Goddess wanted to test him and so appeared only after one month of rigorous prayers. The engineer told her that he had lost his computer in the river.


As usual, the Goddess wanted to test his honesty. She showed him a match box and asked, "Is this your computer?”


Disappointed by the Goddess' lack of computer awareness, the engineer replied, "No."


She next showed him a pocket-sized calculator and asked if that was his. Annoyed, the engineer said "No, not at all!!"


Finally, she came up with his own Pentium machine and asked if it was his. The engineer, left with no option, sighed and said "Yes."


The River Goddess was happy with his honesty. She was about to give him all three items, but before she could make the offer, the engineer asked her, "Don't you know that you're supposed to show me some better computers before bringing up my own?"


The River Goddess, angered at this, replied, "I know that, you stupid donkey! The first two things I showed you were the Trillennium and the Billennium, the latest computers from IBM!". So saying, she disappeared with the Pentium!!


Moral: If you're not up-to-date with trends, it's better keep your mouth shut.



Monday, March 8, 2010




Shirdi Sai Baba said, “I will help him. He is only an outward instrument” in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. II.


At the time of the famine of 1865, a poor boy came to Vidyasagar begging for a pice.


“Suppose I give you not one but four pice,” said Vidyasagar.


“Let us be serious, Sir,” answered the boy; “give me just one pice.”


“I am quite serious,” said Vidyasagar. “If I give you four pice, what would you do?”


“With two pice, I would buy food and give two pice to my mother.”


“And suppose I give you two annas?”


The boy did not wait; he turned away. Vidyasagar followed him, caught him by the arms and said to him, “Tell me, what would you do with two annas?”


The boy broke out into tears. “I would buy rice with four pice and give the rest to my mother.”


“And suppose I give you four annas?”


“I would spend two annas in getting food which would last for two days, and buy two annas’ worth of mangoes, sell them at a profit, buy more mangoes and get more profit and thus provide for the needs of my mother and myself.”


Vidyasagar gave him a rupee, and the boy could not believe it! He hesitated, then took the rupee and ran away in joy.


Two years later, Vidyasagar passed by a small shop. A young man stepped out and said, “Sir, will you very kindly enter the shop and bless it? It is your shop.”


“I do not know you,” said Vidyasagar.


With tear-touched eyes, the young man explained how, two years earlier, Vidyasagar had helped him to stand on his own feet. Now he owned the small shop and earned enough to look after his small family and also extend a helping hand to some in need.







Shirdi Sai Baba said, "Give with faith, give with magnanimity, i.e. liberally, give with modesty, with awe and with sympathy” in Sri Sai Satcharitra, Ch. XIV.


Karna was a great giver. He gave and gave and was never tired of giving. He gave whatever he had, and forgot about it.


One day, as he took his bath by the side of a well, a poor man approached him for help. At that time, Karna held, in his left hand, a gold cup containing oil which he rubbed on his body. Without hesitating for a moment, he passed on the gold cup to the needy one.


Someone asked, “The Scriptures say that when you give, you must give with the right hand. How is it that you gave away the gold cup with your left hand?”


Karna’s answer was significant, “Life is uncertain. By the time I transferred the cup from the left hand to the right, anything could have happened.”


When you get the impulse to give, give immediately.


I remember how a man came to swamiji at dead of the night, woke him up from sleep and passed on to him a bundle of notes for the service of the poor and the needy. When swamiji asked him, “Where was the hurry” he said, “When I got the impulse to give, I did not wait, for I was not sure of the condition of my mind if I waited till the tomorrow.”



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bhagavad Gita - The Wisdom of Krishna - Practical Guide to Right and Happy Living

Bhagavad Gita – The Wisdom of Krishna

Practical Guide to Right and Happy Living:

In Twenty - Seven Self-contained Essays:

Thotalam Chellaswami, Trustee, Srinivasa Gita Satsangh Trust

(Retired Senior I. E. S. Officer Govt. of India and Senior Advisor UN (ILO):



Author’s Submission:

19. In the presentation of the entire survey and in all the essays presented, the emphasis has been on the principles of “right and happy living” not only for spiritual pursuits but also in secular pursuits as well. This aspect has been brought out in every aspect of discussion. As getting established in sattva gun’a is the first step to transcend the gun’as of prakriti so essential for realization of the self and consequent moksha (liberation), this subject has been discussed at some length in essay 15 followed by essay 16 – “Application to and Classification of Human Personality according to Gun’as of Prakriti:, which explains Krishna’s classification based on gun’ass’raddha (faith) and its four instruments (food, yajna, daana and tapas), and also the constituents of action - jnaana, karma, kartaa, buddhi, dhriti and sukham. Though the aspects of the Sermon as a guide for the art of right and happy living have been brought out in every one of the essays, special mention must be made of the essays 15 and 16 on the gun’as of prakriti and their influence on human personality, essay 19 on the Gita’s values’ system and essay 20 on the Gita Sermon as a practical guide to right and happy living, constituting as a supplement comprehensively dealing with the subject of right and happy living. The Survey presents each of the essays under varied sectional heads to highlight the main theme or idea presented in the sections concerned.

20. By way of greater fulfillment and to be more effective, the author thought it proper to present a number of quotations mainly at the start of every essay as well as an introduction to different sections within an essay. These quotations are drawn from renowned - philosophers, religious leaders, scientists, scholars, poets and great persons and strictly relevant to the various aspects discussed in the essay concerned. All these quotations are cryptic expressions (short and sweet), which truly reflect the wisdom of Krishna. Coming as they do from great souls, they are considered significant to bring out effectively important aspects of the great teaching. There are innumerable such observations by great souls and only select ones, strictly relevant to the teaching of the Sermon, are presented. These quotations are drawn from the notes prepared by the author over a period of time from the study of books and articles that appeared in various journals and so for some of the quotations it was not possible to trace the author. These quotations are shown in inverted comas. Some of the author’s observations are also presented along with these quotations as it was thought appropriate to present them along with these quotations and not in the text proper. These are presented within the parenthesis [    ]. 

21. The verses discussed are presented only in free English translation, which also includes short explanation as well and true to the spirit of the original text and the context, along with original Sanskrit text in Roman Script, where considered important. Krishna’s utterances keep us dazzled, inspiring us to ask for more. So the author desired Krishna Himself to speak so that the beauty of Krishna’s own exposition is not missed and hence the inclusion of profuse quotations from the Gita text.

22. The Vedas, which include the Upanishads (s’rutis) often called Vedanta are the primary Scriptures of our philosophy and religion of Sanaatana Dharma and contain the loftiest conceptions and are of eternal nature. But many of them were presented in a language, rather, enigmatic and paradoxical and seem to present diverse and contradictory views.  This is true even of one and the same Upanishad (for example - Chaandogya or Brihadaaranyaka). The Upanishad pronouncements made by different sages, at different periods and in different contexts, are seemingly contradictory, apart from their extreme abstruseness, terseness and also lack of cogency of ideas. The same can be said more or less of the Brahma Sutras.  It is in this background that we are to view Krishna’s unilateral statement, made with no provocation whatsoever or any query from Arjuna, at the start of the fourth chapter. Krishna stated that the doctrine of karma yoga, He has been explaining to Arjuna earlier, is a very ancient one, which He Himself taught to Sun God, who transmitted it to His son Manu, who in his turn imparted it to Ikshwaku.  This treasure of wisdom was preserved in unbroken tradition in the great ages of the past, but “got distorted due to the efflux of time – sah yogah mahataa kaalena iha nasht’ah”.  Krishna further added that He was giving again this ancient wisdom, this supreme and profound doctrine to Arjuna, His friend and devotee. It is to be noted that the above observation of Krishna comes immediately after His exposition of karma yoga - almost revolutionary and original contribution of the Sermon. The inference is obvious. So it can be inferred that the purpose of this unilateral assertion on the restatement of the original Vedanta tenets is to present the truth of the matter and to reconcile seemingly contradictory statements in the s’rutis. Krishna has done this in the Gita Sermon, in a simple, lucid and unequivocal manner, so that all can easily follow the same without the need for any painful interpretation. Has not Krishna Himself characterised Upanishads and Brahna sootras “as full of reasoning and convincing – brahmasootrapadaih ca eva hetumatbhih vinis’citaih”. An oft quoted verse from Gita dhyaana slokas is – “sarvah upanishadah gaavah …….geetaamritam mahat” which means that Gita Sermon is the quint-essence of the Upanishads. This should not be interpreted to mean that “unless one studies and understands the Upanishads, one will not be able to really understand the Gita Sermon. Rather the verse is an exhortation not to struggle to understand the terse and subtle and rather complicated observations of the Upanishads, but to gain all the wisdom of the Upanishads from simple, straight-forward and unequivocal  presentation in the Gita Sermon. It is on the considerations stated above, the author confined the discussion to the Gita text and profusely quoted from the same and has not made many references to other great scriptures such as Upanishads, etc.  

23. The author submits in all humility that when a direct meaning of Gita observations are clear, sufficient and most unequivocal and fitting admirably the context in which the observations were made, there is hardly any necessity to make it complicated by bringing in new ideas and interpretations to give new meanings without giving necessary importance to the context in which the observation is made.

24. The author has presented in this essay what he honestly thinks as true to the text of the Teaching and in doing this, he has been encouraged by Krishna’s unilateral declaration above. No attempt has been made nor has any need felt to torture the text of the Sermon in support of the observation made. The author would like to state, with utmost humility, that the presentation of certain conclusions in respect of subtle aspects of Vedanta philosophy, are based purely on the simple and unequivocal observations in the Gita text, which need no painful interpretation. But the author chose to present these conclusions though the words of great souls of unquestioned understanding and mastery of Vedanta philosophy and principles for obvious reasons. The author is fully aware that he has neither enough ground nor wisdom behind what has been said in all humility. In this presentation special emphasis is on the understanding the Message, as a guide to right and happy living – the main object of the study of the Gita. What original ideas can the author present on the Great Sermon, which has been exhaustively commented upon by revered Acaaryas, learned scholars and the great devotees! The author believes that every commentator of the Gita has some thing unique to say and so having assimilated these, he used them appropriately taking their essence.  Based as they are on the notes made by him from the study of many books, articles, etc., spread over a period extending more than a decade, the author is unable to provide references to some of the thoughts and ideas presented in this essay; also he could not present a complete list of references as they are many and would consume a good number of pages of this short essay. It may, perhaps, be added that a number of references in the essay may be considered as a kind of bibliography, apart from those indicated in this introduction.

25. The author is ever conscious that the presentation should be short, if not sweet, and discussion organised logically and should run through smoothly and gently in a continuous flow with no jerks, like the flow of oil. The author hopes that he has succeeded in this attempt to some extent. Finally the author humbly submits that the purpose of this presentation is to share his appreciation of the sublime beauty and perennial philosophy of the Sermon and which can usefully serve as a guide to good and happy living, with others, especially with our youths. This is the humble justification for ‘yet another book’ on the ‘much discussed and commented upon Gita Sermon’. The attempt to make every one of the 27 essays as self – contained as possible necessitated certain repetitions, which are kept to the minimum. Most of these repetitions are significant and profound observations, which fit different situations and contexts in the Sermon and so considered deserving of repetition. Yet the author requests that the reader may kindly bear with the same. The author has taken sufficient care in the manner of presentation, both in its style and language, which is simple and non- - technical and with profuse quotations from Krishna Himself, so that it may kindle the interest of the younger generation and draw them to the study of the original text. The author is glad to dedicate this essay to the youth of this country, who are future leaders and hope of the country. The author earnestly desires our intelligent youths may go through them and assimilate them by meditating on them and thus get benefited both spiritually and materially.  The author hopes that continued meditation on the Teaching may one day reveal fully its true nature and exquisite beauty giving him joy eternal.