Excerpt from the 1st chapter, ‘Mama Dharma’, of Bhagavad Gita Part – I, Divine Discourses of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
In the objective world, we must first try to analyse the nature of “I”. Who is this “I”? Am I the body? If so, why should I say “my body”? When we say “my body”, the “my” is different and the “body” is different. Suppose we consider our heart is God, then we say “my heart”. Here also, “my” is separate and “heart” is separate. In our initial stage of sadhana, all of us begin with the proposition “my mind, my buddhi (Intellect), my chiththa (consciousness), my indriyas (senses), my antakharana”, etc. Therefore, each one of us begin our enquiry with a question “who am I”? This “my” is a separate entity which resides in everything as a “sakshi” (witness). This is also called as “consciousness” (chaitanya). This chaitanya is present everywhere. Another name for this chaitanya is “chith”. This chith principle manifesting as chaitanya is everywhere in you, with you, above you, below you. If you begin to search for and find this consciousness in the external world, it is not possible. You can only recognise it by turning your vision inward. Then only this pure consciousness is available for cognition. That is why in Vedanta, to recognise this pure consciousness, the great Rishis began the enquiry with the principle of negation “not this, not this, not this” (nethi, nethi, nethi). Starting with assumption “mind is not I”, “buddhi is not I”, “chiththa is not I”, the ultimate stage of “I am I” will be reached.
In order to acquire the good fortune of discovering the nature of one’s own self (swaswarupa sandarsana or “I am I”), one has to do sadhana. Bhakthi or devotional path is that sadhana marga (spiritual path). No separate path is necessary to search for God. The Omnipresent God can be found anywhere and everywhere. However, to recognise the formless and attributeless Divinity, it is necessary to start with the name and form to some extent. In the beginning, it is absolutely necessary to worship the divine form. Gradually, we may develop an inward vision and try to contemplate on the formless, attributeless Divinity. It is said Antar Bahischa Thath Sarvam Vyapya Narayana Sthithah (God is everywhere firmly installed inside, outside and pervading the whole of universe). When God is thus omnipresent, there is no necessity for ourselves to confine our contemplation to one place. But, until we develop such a firm belief and faith and the capacity to recognise that omnipresent formless, attributeless consciousness, we have to depend upon a name and form for our worship. By entering thus into bhakti marga (devotional path), we can later on develop a feeling of unity with Divinity and finally install ourselves in Atma-Jnana (knowledge of the soul). Without a flower, there cannot be a raw fruit; without a raw fruit, there cannot be a ripe fruit. Therefore, the unity of all these - the flower, the raw fruit and the ripe fruit-is the true nature of Atma, i.e., Divinity. The flower is the path of action (Karma Marga). This gradually transforms itself into the raw fruit of path of devotion (Bhakthi Marga). When this raw fruit is nourished and nurtured, it ripens itself into a fruit of Jnana. Once the fruit is ready, there enters the sweetness, finally leading to vairagya (detachment). The karma (action), upasana (worship/devotion) and jnana (wisdom) fructify ultimately into vairagya (detachment). Therefore, we should first enter into the Karma Marga (the path of action). Whatever actions we perform, they must be done with a spirit of offering to God.
As long as we are in this world, it is necessary for us to pursue secular education. Whatever education we have acquired, must be put into practice. The power of thinking and power of action, both are important for man. They are like the positive and negative. That is why it is said Manasyekam Vachasyekam Karmanyekam Mahathmanam (For the great souls, thought word and deed are in harmony). What we do, it must be done wholeheartedly. There must be total accord between our thought, word and deed. Such type of sadhana will lead to surrendering the fruit of our actions to God.
It is, of course, natural to have a desire for the fruits of our actions in the beginning. But, gradually we must rise to the stage of performing actions without desire (nishkama karma). It is not possible in the beginning to perform desireless actions. Hence these desires must gradually be transformed as work for worship. Whatever we do must be done to please God and as an offering to Him. Divinity is one. But, several names and forms are given to it. Ekam Sath Vipraah Bahudhaa Vadanthi (God is one; wise men call Him by different names). Here is a small example with which all of you are familiar. As soon as an infant is born, he is referred to as child. After 10 years, we call him a boy. The same boy after 30 years is referred to as a man. The same man at 75 years of age is called a grandfather, great-grandfather etc. But, this child, boy, man and grandfather are one and the same individual. Similarly, in the beginning, one starts as an aartha (one who develops an intense yearning for God). Then he becomes an artharthi (one who seeks wealth from God); then a jijnasu (a seeker of spiritual knowledge) and finally a jnani (a realised soul). The stages at which these four types of people are operating may be different, but their goal, namely, Divinity is the same. It is a process of gradual evolution from one stage to the other. For this evolution, sadhana is required. It is said Sadhana Panulu Samakooru Dharalona (by constant practise, things can be achieved in this world.