|Sufi Qalandar Hazrat Sai Qutab Ali Shah|
|A Brief Life Sketch||
|Life of Sai Rochaldas Sahib||
|Meeting 1 :||Satsang-1 (Holy Association) - SAMPLE CHAPTER||
|Meeting 2 :||Divine Masters-1 (Satguru)||
|Meeting 3 :||Satguru-2||
|Meeting 4 :||Self-surrender||
|Meeting 5 :||Holy Word||
|Meeting 6 :||Pranayama||
|Meeting 7 :||Silence and Concentration||
|Meeting 8 :||Posture, Diet, Sleep and Wakefulness||
|Meeting 9 :||Service and Charity||
|Meeting 10 :||Humility and Politeness||
|Meeting 11 :||Endeavour and Grace||
|Meeting 12 :||The Conduct and Life-style of a Seeker||
|Meeting 13 :||Satsang-2 (Holy Association)||
|Meeting 14 :||The Paths||
|Meeting 15 :||Hatha Yoga||
|Meeting 16 :||Methods and Conduct||
|Meeting 17 :||On Taking Liberties||
|Meeting 18 :||On Information||
|Meeting 19 :||On Blessings||
|Meeting 20 :||Fear and Devotion||
|Meeting 21 :||Love-1 : What is Love?||
|Meeting 22 :||Love-2 : Stages of Love||
|Meeting 23 :||Love-3 : How to Attain Love?||
|Meeting 24 :||Anguish||
|Meeting 25 :||Love-4 : To Please the Beloved||
|Meeting 26 :||Love-5 : The Advent of Love||
|Meeting 27 :||Love-6 : Love and Intellect||
|Meeting 28 :||Love-7 : To Maintain Love||
|Meeting 29 :||Not to Find Faults with nor||271|
|Speak 111 of Others|
|Meeting 30 :||Exclusive Dependence on God||
|Meeting 31 :||Samadhi||
|Meeting 32 :||Annihilation of the self (Fanai)||
|Meeting 33 :||Renunciation and Non-attachment||
|Meeting 34 :||If you Learnt to Love - 1||
|Meeting 35 :||If you Learnt to Love - 2||
|Meeting 36 :||Dhamal||
|Meeting 37 :||Life of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz||
|Meeting 38 :||The Nature of the Mind||
|Meeting 39 :||Ignorance and Self Realisation||
|Appendix-I||Dr R. M. Hari : A Brief Life Sketch||
|Appendix-II||On Vedanta and Sufism||
SHANTI NAGAR (KALYAN) - 12 October, 1952
Every time I* visited the Master in Bombay for medical consultation and treatment, he would very fondly and in a sweet and enchanting manner invite me to his place in Shanti Nagar, about 40 miles north-east of Bombay. He repeated this invitation time and again. My conscience felt that the invitation from a sage was not just an invitation, but was a providential opportunity that must not be missed. The Master is a renowned physician; he is also known as a spiritual doctor.
(*the devotee who recorded the dialogues and notes)
On a Sunday afternoon, I arrived there in the company of a few friends. As I entered the barrack, I saw the Master seated on a duree (simple carpet) spread on the floor. Behind him was placed a bed-roll for back-rest, but he was sitting erect and was not resting against it. Greeting us in a highly affectionate tone, he said, “O! dear, you have come. At long last you have shown consideration for this side! Welcome, welcome, welcome.” As we bowed before him to pay obeisance, he patted us on our backs and said, “May God bless you! May you be blessed!” I was deeply touched by his warm and affectionate welcome. A simple refreshment was served to us. It consisted of roasted gram and a glass of water. Despite our saying that we did not need it, he insisted on it and said, “You have come all the way and must have something.”
It was a few minutes to four. Men and women gradually started coming in. They paid their obeisance to the Master and took their seats. Women were seated to his right and men to his left. Each one he was greeting very sweetly with folded hands uttering Hari Om. A serene atmosphere of tranquillity prevailed all around. To some he was talking gently in a whisper-like tone, enquiring about their welfare etc. In between, he would glance at the gathering, emitting affection and grace. His eyes were shining with divine radiance in a very blissful manner. All eyes were fixed on him. As the clock struck four, he gently addressed a lady saying, “Today, let us read from Sri Ramakrishna and see what the Lord ordains for us.” She brought the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Placing it in his hands, she said, “May you, sir, open it with your gracious hands.” He opened the book with deep reverence and then passed it on to her. Though the text was in English,’ she read it out in Sindhi with ease and fluency, translating it silently, as if the book had been written in Sindhi. The passage selected read as follows:
“...Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and there are some, besides, who have drank it. God can indeed be seen; what is more, one can talk to Him.
“The first stage is that of the beginner. He studies and hears. Second is the stage of the struggling aspirant. He prays to God, meditates on Him, and sings His name and glories. The third stage is that of the perfect soul. He has seen God, realized Him directly and immediately in his inner Consciousness. Last is the stage of the supremely perfect, like Chaitanya. Such a devotee establishes a definite relationship with God, looking on Him as his Son or Beloved.”
The Master was listening intently. Then, addressing the gathering, he said, “Please see how the sage describes the path sequentially and stage-wise. The path that is laid out according to stages is the right path and the safest mode, so that progressing on it gradually, the seeker may attain the ultimate. Starting on the path of actions (karma marg) a jiva may enter the path of devotion and love (bhakti marg), and then the path of knowledge (gyan marg).
“Proceeding from the path of actions, some seekers directly enter the path of knowledge (gyan marg). Generally, it is the yogis who do it. They achieve this state by yogic practices. If, however, the subtle ego is aroused at this stage, they then tumble down to the path of actions. The path of knowledge is highly delicate and subtle and, therefore, extremely slippery. A slight omission can result in a severe loss. The longer the step taken, the more serious is the slip back. If the aspirant has moved from the path of actions (karma marg) into the path of knowledge (gyan marg), the return position, in the event of a slip back, is into the path of actions (karma marg). This is a serious setback. But, if the aspirant has progressed through the path of devotion and love (bhakti marg) and then entered the path of knowledge (gyan marg), the setback in the event of a slip back for any reason is not that serious, because he returns from the path of knowledge to the path of devotion—he falls from the third stage into the second stage, and not into the first one. Humility is an essential feature of the path of devotion (bhakti marg) and there is little danger of the subtle ego arising there.
“Hence, according to Sri Ramakrishna, the first stage is where the aspirant hears and reads about God. This marks the beginning of the path of actions (karma marg). Here a jiva first becomes inquisitive and asks : Who am I? What for am I born in the world? Where do I come from? Where shall I return? He attempts to understand these by himself, but does not get the insight. What, then, should he do? He may give up. But the lucky one does not get peace due to the unanswered questions. These questions arise-in his mind repeatedly. He approaches other sources. An aspirant may find answers to his questions through three sources: holy books or scriptures (sat shastra), holy company (satsang), and divine masters (satguru).
“The aspirant reads books, finds answers to some questions and gets some enlightenment. Scriptures tell him that all the divine treasures are within a jiva, and all doubts are removed with the attainment of the divine treasures. The body of a jiva is like a rock and a treasure of bliss (ananda) is buried under it. He has only to cut the rock and unearth the treasures. How to do that ? The scriptures cannot explain this, because they are mute. They are the mute companions of a jiva.”
Here, someone in the gathering asked a question.
Question: “Sir, the scriptures describe everything. How do you say that they do not tell everything?”
Master: “Yes, there is nothing lacking in the scriptures, because these are the utterances arising out of the experiences of sages. Yet, they are mute. They are helpful up to a point and not beyond that. As soon as the right attitude is developed through the spiritual practices, the jiva gets all the insight from within. Thereafter all scriptures are within. In the ultimate analysis, the scriptures are the product of the experiences within. All is within. Look, there have been sages who were not literate and had not scanned books or scriptures and yet they had full insight, because their concentration was fixed firmly on the Lord and they remained merged in Him. God is omniscient and all-knowing. These qualities are, therefore, easily developed in sages, and hence they know everything. He obtains the light from within. All is within; a jiva has only to acquire the technique of uncovering that. At this stage, the jiva realises the need for holy company (satsang)*, and he is drawn towards it. No sooner does he hear of satsang than he runs there. He goes to satsang, and not to a place where the scriptures are merely recited or tales from the epics narrated.”
(*The word ‘satsang’ in Sanskrit is composed of two words : Sat = Truth, Sang = Association. It means association with the Truth or the Divine or with those who have realised the Truth.)
Question: “Sir, is there a distinction between satsang and scripture recitation (hatha, kirtan) sessions ?”
Master: “Yes, there is a vast difference between the two. Scripture recitals (katha) may involve just turning the pages and narrating tales and parables. There usually one lends one’s ears overtly and yet one might be engaged in doing something with the hands. It is not uncommon that women, while listening to scriptures, keep knitting or doing some odd jobs with the hands. But this is not admissible in satsang. One is required to be all-attentive in satsang; concentration is an essential prerequisite. One has to lend the ears of the mind. Satsang is not a story-telling session. The main characteristic features of satsang are : first, there is a discourse about Sat (the Truth, the Absolute) and, secondly, the talk is given by a sage (evolved soul) or it is given in the presence of one who has realised the Truth. This is satsang. The others are mere recitation (katha or kirtan) sessions. However, if a jiva participates in the recitation sessions with full concentration and imbibes something, he gets the benefit of satsang. But ordinarily the recitation (katha and kirtan) sessions do not have the same status as satsang; the status of satsang is very high.”
Question: “Sir, what benefits accrue to a jiva from satsang?”
Master: “The benefits accruing to a jiva from satsang are immense and can hardly be described. The psychic vibrations of the divine personalities direct the thought processes of the audience in one direction and check the mental distractions. The wandering of the mind is stopped. The control of the mind facilitates physical posture. Body reflexes or movements of hands and feet are restrained. The posture becomes steadfast. It is said that while in satsang, a jiva must try to remain in a fixed posture, no matter if the joints are cramped. This leads to the mastery of physical posture and the concentration of mind (psychic processes). A jiva living in the world is subject to innumerable impressions (samskar) and impurities (vikar). How to cleanse the mind of all these ? There is only one remedy, and that is association with the evolved souls (saints and sages). This helps in the evolution and purification of the mind. All this cannot be possible without endeavour. There are many practical difficulties on the spiritual path, and a jiva cannot solve all of them on his own. But when he associates himself regularly with the divine beings and intensively enjoys the grace of a sage, then all his questions are answered. By the graceful look and the blessings of the sage, all solutions come to him from within.”
Having said this the Master became quiet for a while. Then he addressed the gathering in a very gentle manner.
Master: “Satsang is a peerless royal fort. A jiva learns divine living when he participates in satsang. Divine souls come to satsang and coming into contact with them, the jiva acquires the spiritual hue. Seeing and hearing the sages, he develops eagerness for a guru. He craves for a master who would lead him to bliss. He also becomes eager to learn the technique by which he might be able to cut the rocks within himself and unearth the treasures lying under them. A state of restlessness sets upon him, and it enhances his drive to find a guru (spiritual guide or preceptor) for himself.”
Question: “Sir, is satsang necessary only for lay persons like me, or is it essential even for those who are already on the spiritual path?”
Master: “It is essential for them as well. Just as a battery has to be charged regularly, so a jiva must attend satsang regularly for his spiritual recharging. Let us take another example. A banyan tree has its roots deep down in the earth. It looks green, yet a lot of dust and other impurities remain deposited on the leaves. On the other hand, small plants in a garden look neat and fresh because the gardener, besides watering the roots, showers the plants from above also. By the same analogy, while the aspirant is served with the water of devotion and love from within, he must, like the tender plants, receive also the external showers in satsang. In his daily life, he is continually subject to mundane forces, and satsang is the only way to neutralise these mundane forces. Satsang is, therefore, absolutely necessary for all.”
Then a hymn in prayer to the Formless Absolute (Brahm) was recited in chorus and this marked the end of the satsang that day and all the people dispersed. I, too, sought the Master’s permission to return to my home in Bombay. He pressed me lovingly to stay there overnight, but on my expressing inability to do so on that day he permitted me, with his blessings, to leave.
I had not anticipated the charm and attraction of the place until I came there and experienced the ecstatic bliss of the satsang. The Master’s divine words and glances and simple explanations could appeal even to a child. “Could there be anything mystic about his invitation ?” I asked myself. The utterances of saints are not often easily understood as they contain hidden references. Just as it is the property of the magnet—and not desire—to attract iron, so it is the nature of a saint which attracts everybody towards him. Everybody is attracted by his pervading love. There is no personal effort to attract. We can describe the force, because we feel the pull. I was deeply touched by the way the Master received us. The warmth and simplicity that he showed surpassed even what a mother would do for her child. It was an expression of infinite love and gentleness. What is more astonishing was that whosoever he talked to carried the conviction that the sage loved him the most. His universal love embraced everybody equally. His benediction, ‘May God bless you!’ was not a casual utterance. It was said with intense sincerity and goodwill, and was charged with divine forces.
The Master’s humility was beyond description. I was stunned when while greeting us he said, “So you have been kind to me,” though the position was the other way round. He was benign to everybody, and yet he considered others kind to him. Everyone who approached him was received with folded hands and greeted with Hari Om, without discrimination. It was obvious that the sage saw the One amongst all and was even minded.
What struck me particularly was that all my mental disturbances disappeared and my mind became quiet as I entered into his presence. I felt an unusual calm and peace within, and a total absence of tensions and anxiety. It was a magic touch. My experiences were also corroborated by my friends who had accompanied me. There was an expression of tranquillity on every face in the satsang. It has been said in scriptures that a distinguishing mark of a Brahm Gyani (one who has realised the Self) is that in his presence a person experiences a blissful calmness and peace within and also the absence of mental disturbances. The psychic radiations emanating from his person produce a unique impact on the audience and give an experience of peace and tranquillity within.
The physical appearance of the place deeply touched my feelings. It was an old and discarded army barrack in a camp built during the Second World War. The camp was now being used for housing the refugees from Sind who had migrated to India after the partition in 1947. This particular barrack was a simple hall, measuring approximately 20 ft by 40 ft, with the brick walls raised crudely and hastily during the War. The doors and the windows were damaged and the roof tiles had many holes. The area received heavy rainfall during the monsoon. The kind of protection this barrack could offer during inclement weather was obvious to me at a glance. Unlike other barracks in the neighborhood, this one had not been furnished. It had no semblance of a temple or a shrine either. All that was to be found there included a duree (a very simple cotton carpet) with patches, a few cupboards for medicines for the dispensary and books, and a few benches for patients. Across the hall there were two cross wires with white cotton curtains rolled over them. When pulled down, the curtains divided the hall into four sections used for various purposes of the dispensary during the day—one section for dispensing, the second one for examining patients, the third one as consultation room and the fourth one for storing materials. All the items in the hall were meant for the basic needs only, and not for comfort or luxury.
The Master is a person with high spiritual realisation and is respected by all. When I looked at the poor dwelling, I was stunned by the contrast. Initially, my reaction was one of wonder and sympathy. Why is he staying there forsaking all comforts that he would get in case he chose to live in the nearby city of Bombay or somewhere else ? The saint is omnipotent and nothing is out of his reach. Is it to share the sufferings of the vast multitude of refugees settled in these camps and to serve them in various ways for their medical care, mental comfort and spiritual uplift that he has decided to live here?
Outwardly he does not bear any mark of priesthood, monkhood or a holy personage. By his guise and appearance he gives the impression of an ordinary person. He is simply dressed in a white shirt and pyjamas.
It is said that like various government officials, who are assigned different jurisdictions by the head of the state, the saints, too, are assigned specific areas by the Lord. Are these refugees placed under the care of the Master ? It is obvious that the sage has accepted the discomforts willingly and happily, and not under compulsion. To him suffering is not suffering at all. He is beyond all mundane and egoistic considerations. The gloomy looks that are commonly visible among the camp inmates can never appear on his face. Ever cheerful, his face radiates with serene freshness.
As I reflect on all these attributes of the sage, I am reminded of a Sindhi couplet which reads :
All men are not beautiful,
All birds are not swans;
Only in rare cases
Does one find the blessed fragrance.
I felt an urge to be in his blissful presence again and to enjoy the satsang. I waited eagerly for another opportunity.
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