(130) HASTHA MASTHAKA SAMYOGAM (TOUCHING OF THE HEAD WITH THE HAND BY WAY OF BLESSING)
8th July, 1947
Some people might say, “From what you have written in the last three or four letters, it is clear that Sri Bhagavan not only declines to allow pada puja (worship of the feet), abhisheka (worship with water) and uchishta tirtha prasadas, but actually condemns them. But then, in Guru Gita and other books, it is stated that Guru pada puja, padodaka panam (taking in water with which the feet are washed) and the like are approved religious practices. Some elders have accepted such practices from their disciples. What then is the explanation?”
Bhagavan is in a highly exalted state and has realised the oneness of the Self with the universe so as to dispense with the distinction between Guru and sishya. Hence he does not require these practices and always maintains that they are meant only for those who have not yet given up the belief that the body is identical with Atma, and that it is for the satisfaction of such people that these practices have been laid down by some of the ancients. It may then be asked, “If that is so, why does he remain indifferent when some of these acts are done and object to them afterwards?” When two or three people do it once in a way he may not mind it and feel sorry that they have not yet got over the belief that the body is identical with Atma, but if it becomes a regular practice, how can he refrain from objecting? He might also feel sorry that the dehatma bhavana (a feeling that the body is identical with Atma) had not yet left people. In his objections, there will be many fine shades of thought which is not possible for us to describe exactly.
It has been mentioned in books, that Bhagavan himself gave vibhuti and the like to Sivaprakasam Pillai and some other devotees. We have also heard of this from several people. But then, Bhagavan himself has told us several times that when there were not many people around, he used to move with them freely and give them whatever they asked for. Even now, if he is eating anything and we, longstanding devotees are there, he gives a portion of it to us. When he was living on the hill it happened sometimes that there was not enough food for all the people there, and so he himself used to mix all the available food, make it into small balls of equal size and give one to each of them, eating one himself.
It was natural for the devotees to feel that that was prasadam to the sishyas from the Guru’s hand. That is all. I have never heard Bhagavan saying that he was giving such things as anugraha (grace extended to the sishya by the Guru) or that he had ever done such a thing before.
Recently a devotee who had heard such reports, asked Bhagavan himself about it: “I hear that Bhagavan gave hastha mastaka samyogam to a devotee. Is that a fact?” “How is that possible? As I got up from the sofa or conversed with people or went about here and there, my hand might have unintentionally touched their heads, and they might have taken it as hastha diksha (touching with the hand by way of blessing). In the case of people with whom I am a bit familiar, I might even have patted them. That is all. I have never deliberately done this hastha mastaka samyogam. I like to move with people freely and in a natural manner. And they might take it as an act of grace from me. Just because of that, will it become hastha mastaka samyogam?” said Bhagavan.
About ten or fifteen days back, a sadhu came here and stayed for a few days. Approaching Bhagavan humbly one day, he said, “Swami, I pray that, when you take food, you may be pleased to give me a morsel of food as prasadam.” “Take all the food you eat as prasadam of the Lord. Then it becomes God’s prasadam. Isn’t all that we eat Bhagavat- prasadam? Who is it that eats? Where does he come from? If you go to the very root of things and know the truth, you will find that everything is Bhagavat-prasadam,” said Bhagavan.