Limiting The Unlimited One

Oftentimes I have wondered why the human mind tends to limit things to the remit of what one has experienced or seen. Take for example a wild concept of perhaps being able to breathe under water. If one proposes this as a possibility, the others almost definitely dismiss it as a figment of imagination. And yet, it is a fact that each of us has performed this act when in the womb of our mother.
In fact, many of our Puranas and Itihasas today are seen as figments of wild imagination and are termed as ‘Mythology’. The etymological origin of this word itself suggests that it is a ‘myth’ – meaning unreal and imaginary. But when one sees something actually happen, which otherwise is generally dismissed as imaginary, the story doesn’t seem mythological anymore. As a matter of fact, it is all about human imagination which has a deeper connection with an eternal consciousness that is beyond time and is only throwing up something which has either occurred in the past or will occur in future, since time is not a constraint for the mind.
When I first noticed Swami, or Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, defy logic by dilating the laws of natural existence as are known to us, I was taken aback. These are what we call miracles. Swami would often create objects or sacred ash out of thin air. But what intrigued me more was the way I got used to it. After some time, it just became commonplace to see Him create objects or cure people of ailments. This was more because I saw this with my own eyes and now my mind had extended the horizon of its acceptance of things a little farther. However, when I look back at all this today, I feel that our mind always has this problem of, what we call in management terms as ‘resistance to change’. We do not accept that such and such a thing can happen or has happened simply because we have not seen or experienced anything such. And then even if we see or experience, there is a whole justification period that we go through to try and argue with ourselves and shout down what we think is outside the remit of our imagination in its current state. One of my friends beautifully said that ‘Imagination is the most underestimated power of the human mind’.
Rama and Krishna - two different Avatars and yet the same
Why is it that when God descends on earth, we tend to put boundaries to God Himself based on what we see of Him when He is on His earthly sojourn. Externally, wasn’t every incarnation so different. Now, the great critical expert within each of us will come up with ways and means to draw similarities. But each incarnation was unique. Then, how can the yardstick of the characteristics of one incarnation define the other? Take for example the Rama Avatar. He stuck to the vow of having one wife. Lord Krishna on the other hand was the complete antithesis of this, at least for an external observer. He is said to have had 16008 wives. Now, the interpretations of what they mean, the inner significance, the Divinity that both embodied etc are all a different discussion. But the fact remains that they were starkly different in their external conduct and behavior.
One was a king, the other was a king maker. One was the embodiment of Dharma. The other was known to flout rules to achieve a greater good. One wept when separated from His wife. The other made people weep due to separation with Him. And yet, after so many thousands of years, the Hindu worships both of these as embodiments of Divinity. If one were to judge God based on the fact that He should have only one wife, Krishna would not qualify in that person’s eyes as God.
Let me now come to the Divine Incarnation that I witnessed, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He openly declared that He was Sai Baba of Shirdi reborn. However, He was glaringly different. He lived a life which enjoined great popularity and outreach. No Avatar has ever reached out to so many in a single lifetime. Devotees flocked to Him from more than 200 countries without Him visiting any of those ever.
This was very unlike the Sai Baba of Shirdi who lived a rather simple life of a fakir who would live on daily alms and had a few hundred devotees by the time of His Mahasamadhi. Sri Shirdi Sai Baba would seek alms from devotees, demand dakshina(some money as token) from visitors, was very tall, would wear torn clothes, not travel much , grew a beard, tied a kafni and would hurl verbal expletives and sometimes even hurl objects at people who would visit Him.
Shirdi Sai and Sathya Sai - two different forms but
the same Lord!
On the other hand, Sri Sathya Sai Baba was short, never stretched His hand to ask, always gave, would not accept money, set up trusts and institutions, wore neat ironed robes, travelled extensively, maintained a clean shave, grew a mop of hair to resemble a halo, always spoke very lovingly to devotees and visitors and would almost never get violent.
A simple comparison shows how both these incarnations exhibited different characteristics on the external front. The eye to discern the common Divinity in both is given to very few indeed. But, the fact remains that our mind still forces us to limit Swami to the characteristics we observed and makes us believe that He will not go beyond what we understand or comprehend. It is a classic case of trying to measure the ocean in a cup.
There is one common thread though, which we all should be aware of. The Avatar doesn’t come down to make a reputation for Himself. He comes down to enhance our reputation. He comes down to elevate us spiritually. He descends for the ascent of mankind.
Swami beautifully says in a poem:
‘Avatarinchuta loni ardham emi
Janulapai preeti vaatsalya parata toda,
Vaari sthaayi ki daivambu digi vacche,
Jeeva pragna toh paatu gaa daiva pragna’
It means, ‘What is the meaning of an incarnation. God Himself comes down to the level of man out of his infinite compassion for mankind. He demonstrates how man can elevate Himself from the level of human consciousness to Divine consciousness.’
It is this which should serve as a clear indicator to people on the Divine purpose of an incarnation. I remember a conversation I once had with Swami where I asked Him, “Swami, how will I know if I am progressing spiritually?”
Swami beautifully replied, “Suppose you cook daal (pulses), how will you know if you cooked it better than last time? You will taste and see and compare it to the last time you tasted it. Similarly, when you compare and see if you reacted to a situation in a better way compared to last time, you will know. Did you speak with more love? Has your anger decreased? Are you more detached than before? Are you happier and more peaceful? This is how you will know.”
The greatest advantage of living in the times of an Avatar is also that He demonstrates how to handle situations in life. If we observe that, rather than observe what colour of dress He wore, or what vehicle He travelled in, we would be the biggest beneficiaries. Like Swami would always say, what is the proof of a heavy downpour having drenched the land? It is that the land would be moist. Similarly, what is the greatest proof of an Avatar having descended, it is the impact He had on His devotees. It is their love, their behavior, their forbearance. But, if they do not display these qualities, does it mean that the Avatar had not descended?  Nay, it only means that some of us had not learnt the lessons well enough. And, He has His own ways of teaching us. Again, every Avatar does so in a unique way! All we need to do is to expand the horizons of our mind and extend our imagination to an unrestricted realm of possibilities so that all doors and windows are open for the Divine grace to flow in. Otherwise, it will just be a case of another opportunity lost in making comparisons and engaging in a half-witted intellectual debate without knowing either the purpose or the Divine descent or our purpose of being contemporaries.
No one can ever understand Me! Just sit back and enjoy.
I fondly remember an experience I had during the late 90s when I went to Prashanti Nilayam for Darshan. I met a person called Tori. He was from a far flung country, the name of which I hadn’t even heard till then. As I was not the contemplative, meditative type of person, I engaged him in a conversation while we were waiting for Swami to come out of the interview room. To my amazement, he could hardly speak English. I somehow managed to ask him how he made his way to this remote village in Andhra Pradesh. He said, ‘Well, this man (Sai Baba) appeared in my room in Latvia and handed me the tickets to and fro to Bangalore, India. I took the flight and came to Bangalore where a taxi was waiting for me and brought me here. I was then escorted by the taxi driver and the accommodation was given inside. And here I am.’
What a story! I was tempted to ask if he had any interaction with Bhagawan. But, strangely enough, he said Swami had not looked at him yet. And he was to leave that day. I was quite surprised at the whole incident. But it taught me the important lesson of firstly, not trying to understand what Swami was doing and secondly, to try and value the great opportunity of Darshan I was having. How does one define an experience like this? Like I said, we try too hard to limit the limitlessness of the Infinite One. And, dare I say, we will fail if we take that route! Sit back and enjoy the experience.
Sarvey Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarvey Santu Niramayah
Sarvey Bhadrani Pashyantu
Maa Kaschid Dukhabhaadbhavet!
 (May all the worlds be happy. May all be peaceful. May all be safe and May there be no misery anywhere) – Vedic chant


siddu said…
Awesome brother, thanks for sharing!!
Sai Murali said…
Nice thoughts and wonderful comparisons of Rama/Krishna, Shridi Sai/Sathya Sai thanks for sharing bro.
Excellent in writing lovely to read, though there are some read between the lines, I just take it as a worth reading and say sit back and enjoy don't try to understand. Thanks
strange are the ways of divine
@Prashanth...wonder what you saw 'in between the lines' :)

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