The grip of karma

The stories of Das Ganu

Shirdi Sai Baba's prominent disciple Das Ganu has portrayed in his writings many of Baba's teachings in own his verbose style and combined them into long dissertations. Recently, these stories have been collected under the title Sri Sai Gurucharitra. Since Baba has never held such long discourses, most stories of Das Ganu are not included in the book Zeven dagen Shirdi Sai. Now I have translated a few of them here and abridged them, because it gives a clear account of the lessons Baba provided piecemeal to his followers.

Download this story as ebook in Dutch: Sai Baba over karma.epub

Nana Chandorkar and Nana Nimonkar came to Shirdi. When Chandorkar bowed at Baba's feet, he said: 'O Sai Maharaj, Oh thou able one!, No more this worldly life for me! All the Shastras say that this worldly life is futile. Protector of the meek and the downtrodden. Please tear asunder these chains of worldly attachments, which entangle us and hinder our progress. What pleasures we seek are turning into pain to haunt and torment us. Desire is making us dance like puppets at her whim. No matter how far the search, we are unable to find true bliss in this world. I am fed up of this life. I do not want these worldly entanglements any more.’

Baba patiently heard what Chandorkar had to say. He said: From where are you getting these insane ideas? What you say is true to some extent, but you seem to have gone off on a tangent on the whole. You may try to escape from the worldly, but it will not let you escape from it. It will always stick by your side. It is not possible for anyone to escape from its clutches. Even I could not escape being entangled in this body of mine, how then can you escape the entanglements? This world has many attributes. Let me explain them to you.

When lust, anger, covetousness, delusion, pride and envy are covered by ego, the result is worldliness. That is the world. The eyes see an object, the ears hear, the tongue tastes, this too is the world. It is the nature of the body. This world is an admixture of pleasure and pain. They do not leave anyone, No one can escape from their clutches. You feel that wealth, wife and children are the world. You are now weary of this. But they - the wife, children, brothers and sisters, relatives, will not leave you, even if you wish to leave them. The reason for all this is your prarabhda karma: the consequences of past actions that are now working out. Know that none in the three worlds can escape it without experiencing it and working it out.’

Chandorkar heard what Baba said and answered: "All what you had said earlier was given by God and are his creation, only the last, prarabdha karma, is my own creation. I am wearied of this worldliness. Please remove my entanglements and save me some how or the other.’

Baba laughed: "Everything is your creation! What is the use of feeling fed up now? All these are the result of the karma of your previous lives, the result of the prarabdha karma. This prarabdha is the main reason for us to take birth in this world. None can escape the prarabdha, that is why people are born. There are the poor, the middle-class, the rich, the others, the bachelors, the married, the sanyasis, the high and mighty, the low and such many kinds of people. There are many animals such as horses, cattle, foxes, birds, tigers, wolves, dogs, pigs, cats, snakes, scorpions, the ants and insects. The life inhabiting them all is the same, but they all look different from each other to the casual onlooker. Have you ever thought why this should be so? It is because of their sanchita karma that they are different from each other. They assume the qualities, conduct and the way of life as per their bodies. What is the purpose of seeing all these bodies and feeling wearied? The tiger eats meat, the pig eats excreta. The wolf digs out the buried human body and eats it with relish. It is the nature of their bodies which makes them do that. The swan eats the tender leaves of the lotus, the vultures eat the stinking decayed meat. One gets the qualities and the habits of the body one is born in, that is the law of nature. It is in accordance with this law of the nature that the living beings experience their prarabdha karma.

Look here Nana! Some lions roam freely in the jungle, the lords of all they survey. Some lions are caged and taken from village to village on show. The rich man's dog sleeps on mattresses of silk, Some dogs keep roaming throughout the day for a few pieces of bread. Some cattle are fed to satiety with hay, the owner gives them sufficient water and oilcakes to feed and takes good care of them, some cattle keep roaming throughout the day, hungry for food. They do not even get a few stalks of grass to eat and have to nose about the rubbish.

The main reason for these differences is the prarabdha karma. None can escape it without experiencing it to the full. It is the reason for the prosperity of the rich and the poverty of the poor. None can escape its writ without undergoing the full course. What law applies to animals applies to humans too. One is rich, the other poor, one is prosperous, the other in the clutches of wretched poverty. One is an orphan who has to beg for alms. One moves like a prince on horse back and enjoys all the luxuries of life in kingly mansions, and the other has nothing to call his own and sleeps naked on the bare ground, the sky itself his roof. Some have progeny. Some have progeny, but they all die, and some women are infertile and can not have children. Some women go to much trouble for just for the sake of bearing children.’

Nanasaheb Chandorkar

As Baba was saying this, Nana folded his hands in obeisance, and said: 'Baba, Why then do we have happiness and sorrow? We get pleasure from happiness and heart breaking pain from sorrow. The person who is entangled in the world suffers between both these extremes every second of his life. If this world is the store house of happiness and sorrow, how can one destroy sorrow and achieve happiness without leaving it??’

‘Nana, that happiness and sadness are delusions. They are the fog which covers up and hides the reality. What we feel are the pleasures of this world, are not truly its pleasures. Examine this aspect closely: many people commit mistakes in understanding these aspects. It is by the prarabdha karma that one gets delicious food to eat while another gets dry bread to eat. The one who gets the stale dry bread may be plunged into sorrow. Another may get merely the dry crust of the stale bread. The man who got the delicious food to eat, will think that he has every thing and lacks nothing. One may eat delicious food or one may eat rice with pickle, but it is merely to assuage hunger and to fill the stomach. Some may wear costly shawls with jeweled embroidery, and some may cover their skin with rags. It may be a costly shawl or a rag, the purpose is only to cover the skin, and beyond this basic use there is no further use for these things.

It is ignorance to give importance to happiness or sorrow. If the mind is an ocean, the waves of sorrow and happiness are always rising and falling in that ocean. What you feel as sorrow and happiness are not real. They are mere delusion, caused by your infatuation with the body. You may have a doubt here: "Waves are present if only water in present. Light is present if only a lamp is present. So there must be a causative factor for the birth of these notions such as happiness and sorrow’

What is it? It is the six enemies, such as lust, anger, covetousness, delusion, pride and envy, which is the basis for the experience of happiness and sorrow in this world. The form of the waves is delusion. It makes the truth seem a lie, and a lie seems as the truth. When a poor man sees gold in the hand of a rich man, he feels envious. Then the wave of envy starts in his mind. He gets the feeling,: That gold should be in my hand’ The moment he gets this feeling, another wave of greed starts in his mind.

Nana, how many more examples can I give you of this? First, we have to conquer our six enemies. Once they are conquered, they cannot do anything to start these waves our mind. To tell the truth we cannot fully conquer these six enemies, but we can make them our slaves. We should place our knowledge as the superior officer over these six enemies. Over knowledge, we should place discrimination as the supervising officer. If we successfully achieve this, there will be no further pain of happiness and sorrow for us.

Alright, now I will tell you what the true happiness and sorrow are. Mukti, liberation, salvation, is true happiness. To take birth and die is true sorrow. Any other happiness or sorrow, but for these, is a result of mere delusion. Now I will tell you how to live in this world. Listen to me with diligent care!

We should happily experience what ever has been our lot as the result of the prarabdha karma. Even though this world is delusion, , prarabdha is true. It is our vasanas (proclivities) which keep us entangled forever without letting go of us. It is the vasanas which are the seed bed of the next birth. That is why, if one does not increase his infatuation with the own karma; one would gain immeasurably in the hereafter. One stays for a day or two in one choultry and then moves on towards his destination, without forming any association or infatuation with it. In the same manner, one should look upon this world as a choultry and not form any attachments. Thus, one should continue to do one's duty, and present the result as well as the feeling of being the doer to the almighty and be untouched by it all, and be untouched by it all. Relinquish the result of everything you do, as well as the feeling that you are the one that is acting, to the Supreme, and do not get attached to it.

As long as you live, you will take care of the body, but it's a waste of time to worry about death. This body is part of the five elements, and it is futile to cry for it when it dies. In the same manner, it is futile to feel happy at birth. Nana, It is mukti or liberation to have equally neutral feelings about happiness or sorrow. I will tell you the rest of the story later, Now you continue to do your duty.’

Nana Chandorkar listened to the words of wisdom which fell pearl like from the lips of Baba in awe. He prostrated at his feet and embraced them eagerly as the child does his mother. Nana Nimonkar also was present and enjoyed being immersed in the bliss of Baba's teaching. They both paid obeisance to Baba and returned home.

-download the ebook version of this text: Sai Baba over karma.epub-

-to part 2: escaping the hold of karma-

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