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Let Sahaj Marg Show in You
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Brothers and Sisters: I am reminded by Brother Madhu - you know, I am in the process of making six more prefects this week and Swaroopa Rani Prasanna Krishna will be the fiftieth prefect in Bangalore - not Karnataka - in Bangalore! You know, Karnataka has been very slow in growth - except for Bangalore city. Channapatna has been dormant ever since I came with Babuji Maharaj for the inauguration of that centre long ago. I think it was sometime in 1976 or 1977. So thirty years have passed. Now some people are coming. Mandya we had some abhyasis; I don't hear of them any more. Mysore - recently it has started to awaken. About north Karnataka, the less said the better, because I see the same people, same faces, and in the same age group - fifty plus. And of course with the passing of time, with the efflux of time, with people (those who have qualified for it) going up to the brighter world, the strength is reducing. I am thinking of Sedam, Bidar, Gulbarga - nothing really to talk about.
Karnataka is a big state. Why is it not growing? You have to find the answers, because whatever the Mission should do for you, it is doing. We have an ashram - Banasankari - for a long time. Babuji Maharaj was here. In his presence we had the inauguration with nothing but that small front room. Then we have this place. We have three plots of land in the Sharjapur road - Sahaj Enclave. But no growth. Now we have started this retreat centre for the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation, twenty-two kilometres away from our ashram on Kanakapura road. The day before yesterday you were all there. I hope that will add a little fuel to the fire and revive it. Karnataka is a sleepy state. We used to call it in Tamilnadu the thuppa loni state. If you sleep, you have to be woken up.
I remember a joke my boss's brother, Mr. Vasu told me once - that in one of the busy intersections in Bangalore, the traffic had piled up on all four sides and the Commissioner of Police was receiving frantic calls. When he went to inspect, he found there was a Halt sign, and being true Karnataka people, they halted, you see. I believe that was when the police introduced the sign, 'Halt and Proceed'. Our brother here does not find it amusing, but it was amusing. That is the nature of people here. As for Mysore, it was always a place for retired people. In between Bangalore and Mysore, the degree of somnolence increases as you go more and more towards Mysore. So we have to prod the people of Karnataka into some sort of natural awakening first, before they can be awakened spiritually. And of course, there is this usual problem of religious prejudice, too many castes, too many cults, Prabhus, Lingayats, what not, I mean, Chennabasappas. So what shall we do?
In spirituality, there is no caste, no creed, nothing. You know what Sahaj Marg is: we say no prejudice of caste, creed, sex, race, colour. But in practice it is not going. I am still confronted with one-yard names: Bairappanahalli Chennabasappa Holay Narsipur Taluka Prasanna Krishna. And I am expected to make an identity card like a credit card which will contain this. Tamilnadu is no different. We have the Chettiars in Tamilnadu. Aravamuda Chettiar - his son was Aravamuda Narsimha Chettiar; his son was Aravamuda Narsimha Chenna Chettiar; his son was Aravamuda Narsimha Chenna Kesava Chettiar. So after seven generations, it was Aana Moona Kaana Tona Peena Chettiar [Laughter]. I am not joking; it is a reality. You go to Chettinad, you will still find all the names of the forefathers have to be mentioned. I think it is time you people cut off all the unnecessary parts of your names, for instance Bairappanahalli is useless. Nobody knows, I don't think even he knows, where Bairappanahalli is. Even if he knows where it was, it doesn't matter - it is some kukgraamam [small village] in some corner of Karnataka.
You know, in India we are all addicted to sticking to the past. As Babuji said very pithily, very exactly, "What is the use if my great grandfather was a maharaja and I am a rickshaw puller?" "Raja parampara [royal lineage], sir." He cannot even sit on the rickshaw and be pulled. So you see, all these caste differences - they must go, at least in Sahaj Marg. I still find Naidus are Naidus, Chettiars are Chettiars, you know, Devanahalli is still Devanahalli. Why this caste name, country name, village name; tell me, what is the use? In America you have John Smith, Henry Fonda, Elizabeth Taylor - finish - three line addresses. So we have to do something serious about it. At least those of you who are serious abhyasis should cut your names down to size, cut your addresses down if possible, and become easily identifiable. I know in rural banking, one of the big names is Somappa Chettiar, son of Kanappa Chettiar; six of them are there and they all want loans. That is when banks introduced photographs on passports to be stamped. How will you identify? If all of you became Bairappanahalli Narasappa and I say, "Bairappanahalli Narasappa, illi baa [Come here]" then which one of you will come? So you see, we must practise what we are trying to practice.
I know we had two Lingayat gentlemen who used to come here, who are our abhyasis, and they were both priestly you know, and one of the Lingayats had five hundred abhyasis of his own. I met him recently in Tumkur or Tiptur or somewhere. He still claims that he is an abhyasi, but he has his own abhyasis; they are Lingayats. They worship a Lingayat prabhu, you see. And he comes to us as an abhyasi. He cannot give that up because that is his bread and butter, if not cheese. So we are sticking to our caste names because we are afraid of our community, because we are afraid of our society. Then what sort of lions are we? Babuji said, "I don't want sheep. I want lions." What sort of lions are we? Still we are Chetty lions and Naidu lions and Chennabasappa lions.
So please think over this. Bring Sahaj Marg into your life from the very beginning - from your name. Naamakaranam [naming ceremony] is the first thing you do for a baby. Annapraashanam [ceremony of giving solid food to a baby for the first time] follows afterwards. Everyday I am naming babies. And I don't want those babies at least to be burdened with all this rubbish of caste prejudice, religious prejudice. If you are going to do the same thing with your children, please do not bring them to me for naming. You can name them in your own sampradaya [custom]. And I am very serious about that. We have carried down the sins of our forefathers - it is okay, so be it, but we should not hand over to the next generation. You understand? So make it a matter of your conscience. Am I being true to the paddhati [system]? Am I being true to my Guru if I am still what I am? Should I not change at least in the things that I can easily change, like my dress, like my name? These are easily changed, you know. A woman can wear salwar kameez, go in and come out in a sari, go in and come out in a sarong and jeans. They find it easy to do. Why do men not find it easy to do? Because we are stuck with our identity which is, for us, a security. "Sir, if I change my dress, nobody will recognize me."
I remember I went to Shahjahanpur. And of course, it was already in the kabza [hold] of the opposite side. But we managed to get in and both parties celebrated Basant and there was a watchman going around with a gun. I called him and said, "No guns in the ashram." He said, "Sir, instructions." I said, "No, go and deposit it in the police station." He went and deposited it. Then he came and said, "Sir, you know, I have been ordered to shoot you." I said, "To shoot me?" He said, "Yes", and he pulled out a photograph he had in his pocket - my photograph. I said, "Then why don't you shoot me?" He said, "No, no, sir, after seeing you, I am unable to shoot you." I said, "You are being untrue to your employer. You should have shot. Otherwise, you should not have accepted this employment." Then he said, "Sir, I am a professional killer." And then he came to me for sittings. He took three sittings. Then he said, "Now I am afraid, because if people hear that I am an abhyasi and that I have become spiritual, the first thing they will do is to shoot me down like a dog in the street of Shahjahanpur." You see, he could not give up his identity as a killer - his big moustache, his fame or infamy - whatever it is, because he was afraid for his life. Here too, we are afraid for our life. Suppose Bairappanahalli becomes Prasanna Krishna, that's all - no more, you see. His bosses may not find out who he is. IBM will be, you know, confused - "Where is Bairappanahalli?" Isn't it? Passport problem, visa problem. So it's not easy to change, but those of you who can change, who have no passports, no visas (all this humbug doesn't matter) - he should change.
So you see, you must show that Sahaj Marg has influenced your life in the ways that people can see. If you are putting a naamam [religious symbol worn on forehead], you must stop wearing it. If you have kudimi shikha [tuft of hair worn as a religious symbol], you must stop it. If you are wearing ritualistic dhoti only for the sake of religion, you must stop it. After all Rama and Seeta went to the jungle wearing the bark of trees. So why don't we wear the bark of trees? There is not enough - when the deforestation is going on, there won't be enough, you see. So, there are practical problems. But we should show that Sahaj Marg has played its part in my life - from superficial change to deepest change is in me. Deepest change you cannot perceive with your eyes. But at least superficially I can show that I am a Sahaj Margi. It is not enough just to wear a badge. Those who have to wear a badge and be recognized as abhyasis only by the badge are not really all that we think they should be. You understand? So please make up your mind.
Let Sahaj Marg show in you - what it has done for you, to you, and through you to others. If you can't change, your family will not change. I have had many children coming to me complaining that, "They are your abhyasis, but my father still beats my mother. He is still taking bribes. He still calls us names, filthy names. He still tells lies on the telephone. We know they are lies. So why should I come to Sahaj Marg?" - like this, teenage children ask. "What have you done for my father that you want me to come here?" Now is that abhyasi not bringing a bad name to the Mission and to his Master? They are being blamed for his being or continuing to be what he has been.
Yesterday one fellow came to me - drinking. I said, "You have to give it up." He said, "I cannot." I said, "What do you mean you cannot? You did start. Isn't it? But you are not a born drunkard. No baby drinks. So if you can acquire it, can you not throw it out?" "No, no, sir, I have tried many times. I cannot." So for him practice makes perfect. Not giving up has become perfect. So I said, "Then why do you come to me? You have to accept. Will you make a promise?" He said, "No, I don't want to promise which I cannot do." I said, "Try it. Make a promise. At least you will remember that you have promised." Finally, very reluctantly he has made a promise. He said, "I don't want this promise to go like other promises." I was reminded of a marriage in Europe: just as I put their hands together and blessed them, the husband said, "I hope this marriage will last more than a few months." I said, "You are just married and you are already hoping against hope that this will continue. What sort of attitude have you brought to marriage?" Right there, on the stage! Another couple were married for two years - you know, marriage performed by me, also in Europe. Few years later they both came arm in arm - smiling. I said, "You look very happy this morning." They said, "Yes, Chari, you know, we have come to make a request." I said, "What?" She said, "Will you perform our divorce?" True story - no joke. Not made up; a true story. I said, "My dear friend, I only join hearts. I don't separate them."
So you see, these are examples of what Sahaj Marg has not been able to do. Why? Because they keep what they have - holding it tightly: their ego, their image in society. Strong man wants to continue to be a strong man. The rude fellow thinks that if he is not rude, society will not respect him. The liar thinks that if he doesn't lie, he will not earn his bread and butter. Why don't you give it a try and see what it can do if you adopt Sahaj Marg sincerely, honestly, conscientiously. Please try it.