Letter 147

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25th September, 1947
Bhagavan was reading something from a Malayalam book yesterday afternoon. Someone nearby enquired whether it was the Vasishtam, and Bhagavan replied in the affirmative. A Pandit who was there began discussing the stories in the Vasishtam, and said, “Swami, there will be several bondages for the attainment of realization, will there not?” Bhagavan, who was reclining on the sofa, sat up and said, “Yes, that is so. They are the bondages of the past, the future and the present.” “Of past bondages there is a story in the Upanishads and also in the Vasudeva Mananam. A brahmin with a large family acquired a she-buffalo and, by selling milk, curds, ghee, etc., he maintained his family. He was fully occupied the whole day with obtaining fodder, green grass, cotton seed, etc. for the buffalo and in feeding her. His wife and children passed away, one after the other. He then concentrated all his love and affection on the buffalo, but, after a time, the buffalo too passed away. Being thus left alone and disgusted with family life, he took to sannyasa, renouncing the world, and began practising prayer and meditation at the feet of a Holy Teacher (Sadguru).

“After some days, the Guru called him and said, ‘You have been doing spiritual practices (sadhana) for several days now. Have you found any benefit from them?’ The brahmin then related the above story of his life, and said, ‘Swami, at that time I used to love the buffalo mostly because it was the mainstay of my family. Though it passed away long ago, yet when I am deeply engrossed in meditation, it always appears in my thoughts. What am I to do?’ The Guru, realizing that it was a past bondage, said, ‘My dear friend, the Brahman is said to be ‘asti, bhati and priyam’. Asti means omnipresent; bhati means lustre; priyam means love.

That buffalo, being an object of your love, it also is the Brahman. It has a name and a form; so what you should do is to give up your own name and form as well as those of the buffalo. If that is done, what remains is the Brahman itself. Therefore, give up names and forms and meditate.’ “The brahmin then meditated, giving up both of them, and attained realization (jnana). Name and form are past bondages. The fact is, that which IS, is only one. It is omnipresent and universal. We say ‘here is a table’, ‘there is a bird’, or ‘there is a man’. There is thus a difference in name and form only, but That which IS, is present everywhere and at all times. That is what is known as asti, omnipresent. To say that a thing is existent, there must be someone to see — a Seer. That intelligence to see is known as bhati. There must be someone to say, ‘I see it, I hear it, I want it’. That is priyam. All these three are the attributes of nature — the natural Self. They are also called existence consciousness, bliss (sat-chit-ananda).” Another devotee queried, “If priyam (Love), is a natural attribute, it should be existent no matter what the object may be. Why then is it not existent when we see a tiger or a snake?” Bhagavan replied, “We ourselves may not have any love for them, but every species has love towards its own kind, hasn’t it? A tiger loves a tiger, and a snake a snake. So also a thief loves a thief and a debauchee a debauchee. Thus, love is always existent. There is a picture presented to you on a screen. That screen is asti, omnipresent, and the light that shows the pictures is bhati and priyam, lustre and love.

The pictures with names and forms come and go. If one is not deluded by them and discards them, the canvas screen, which has been there all through, remains as it is. We see pictures on the screen with the help of a small light in an atmosphere of darkness; if that darkness be dispelled by a big light, can the pictures be visible? The whole place becomes luminous and lustrous. If, in the same way, you see the world with the small light called mind, you find it full of different colours. But if you see it with the big light known as Self-realization (atma-jnana), you will find that it is one continuous universal light and nothing else.”

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