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Chapter 1 / parts 8 - 11

8  The Birth of the Human Being, the Death of the Lord

   My favorite book of Swami's is the Bhagavata Vahini. It is a marvellous storybook. It is filled with the play of the Lord, relating the wonderful happenings in the life of Krishna. In this book, Swami has rewritten the Srimad Bhagavatam, the great Indian scripture. He presents it somewhat differently from the original.

   In Swami's book, it starts out with the birth of a child. That child is Parikshith, the only heir to the Pandava throne. The Pandavas, as you know, of whom the most well-known was Arjuna, represent the side of good, whereas their cousins, the Kauravas, represent the side of evil. These two sides fought a war of total annihilation, which is the Mahabharata, immortalized in the great Indian epic of that name.

   Swami said that the Mahabharata represents the inner war being waged between the forces of good and evil inside our own hearts. We cannot win this war on our own. We must turn towards the Lord. Then he will come and take hold of the reins of our chariot, just as he did for Arjuna in the Maha-bharata. That is our only hope of winning this inner war.

   In the story, at the end of the war, the Pandavas were victorious, but the war exacted a terrible price. In a dastardly deed on the last night of the war, one of the last surviving fighters on the Kaurava side broke into the Pandava camp at night and killed all the Pandava children while they were sleeping. The Pandavas were devastated. Their only hope for continuing the royal succession was the child that was growing in the womb of the widowed wife of Arjuna's son. But the same warrior who killed the other children resolved to destroy this last vestige of the Pandava line, by sending an arrow into the womb of the helpless woman.

   The royal foetus in the womb, saw that terrible missile coming towards it, spitting sparks of fury and destruction. But then he saw a beautiful blue boy with a lovely smile on his face, whirling a discus and hurling it at the arrow. The lethal missile broke into a thousand pieces. The babe in the womb was saved. Immediately afterwards the beautiful blue boy disappeared.

   After the child was born, all he could think of was that lovely blue boy who had saved his life, and he sought for him everywhere to see that beautiful face again. "Who was he?" he asked himself. "Why did he come to save me?" In every face he saw he wondered,"Is this him?" Because he was always searching for something so intensely, they called him, Parikshith, which means the one who seeks.

   There also, close to the beginning of the book, we find an account of the death of Krishna. The Lord had finished his work on earth and left his body. So, the beginning of the book, as Swami tells the story, has the birth of a human child and the departure of the Lord. Then the whole book is filled with the wonderful stories of the life of Krishna, mostly the wonderful play of the young Krishna. These stories are related by a great sage to Parikshith, after Parikshith had become the emperor of the realm. They are told under unusual circumstances. The Lord had left the earth and the Kali Yuga, the age of materialism and unrighteousness had begun. That dark age took hold of everyone, including even King Parikshith.

   One day the king was hunting in the forest and got himself separated from his party. He was very thirsty and saw a little hut nearby, in which a sage was sitting in meditation. Parikshith did not realize that this was a sage immersed in trance; he thought the man was just asleep. Parikshith tried to awaken him but he could not bring the sage out of his trance. Parikshith was desperate for some water but he could not find any and he could not get this sleeping person to tell him where it was. So in frustration he left, but before leaving, he picked up the dead skin of a snake and draped it around the sage's neck as a parting gesture of disgust.

   The sage's young son discovered his father sitting with this snake skin on his shoulders. The lad became so furious seeing this insult to his father, that he cursed the man who had perpetrated this outrage to die seven days later from a snake-bite. When the father came out of his trance and heard what the son had done, he said, "Son, you shouldn't have done that. He didn't mean any harm. I cannot now set aside your curse, but you made a great mistake. He is a good king and he doesn't deserve this ignoble end. Go and tell him what happened. Let him prepare himself and turn this curse into a blessing, by using the chance to elevate himself spiritually."

   And so, Parikshith finds out that he is under a sentence of death, to die in seven days. But for him this news is a tremendous relief. His burden of worldly life has now been taken from him. He takes off his crown and his royal robes and goes down to the banks of the Ganges to immerse himself in contemplation on the Lord. Sages come and sit with him and then the great God-realized saint, Suka, comes and tells the king the stories of the divine play of the Lord. And that is what fills the Bhagavata, the inspiring stories of the Lord related to a man who is under a sentence of death.

9  Making This Life Our Last Life

   Swami says that we are all under a sentence of death. How are we spending these last days that we have left? Do we know when that last day will be? Those thousands who were herded together just a few steps from here, did they have any idea the day before, that they would be sent off to their death the next morning? When I went flying for the joy of it, did I have any idea that within minutes I would be in mortal danger? Are we ready this very second to end this life joyfully, if the god of death comes calling?

   If we are immersed in the Lord, one hundred percent, body and soul, then it makes no difference when death chooses to come. Then we are always ready, and we don't have to be concerned about that huge warehouse filled with future lives. It will be reduced to ashes.

   Swami once came up to me on the verandah at the temple and asked me, "Do you think that I'm fat?" Swami has a little belly. I replied to him, "No, Swamiji, I think you are beautiful." "But what about this pumpkin?" he said, patting his belly. I replied, "Swami, it's just the folds of your gown." He said, "Not gown, pumpkin!" And then he whispered in my ear, "It is Prema Sai. He is growing inside." We know that Swami is coming in another incarnation. In the same way, we are also pregnant with our next incarnation, which even now, is growing within us.

   Whether we consider ourselves as males or females, Swami says that in the spiritual context we are all females. And we are all heavy with our next birth. Swami once said that the whole world can be compared to a play put on in a girl's college. On stage they will play the part of gents or ladies, of young or old, of saints or sinners, of beggars or kings. The dress will be different, the make-up will be different, the bodies will look different, but all these varied parts are just being played by the same class of girl students. There is one man. He is the director of the play. All the rest are ladies.

   And so it is with the one Lord who is the director of this world play, The feminine principle is this whole creation, and like the dream world and its characters, it can but do the bidding of the dreamer. As long as we are caught up in the illusion we are players in the Lord's play. That great drama features the wheel of birth and death and rebirth.

   So, where will our next birth be? Will it be with Prema Sai, the final incarnation of the Sai avatar, who will usher in the golden age? It may not be. We may be reborn in another era. Or we may be reborn in the ghettos of Calcutta or in a world ravaged by destruction. We don't know. Therefore, we must make every effort to evoke the Lord's grace, and make this birth the last birth, this life the last life. We must live with the conviction that when we finish this time, we will be finished for good.

   The way to do that is to be established one-hundred percent in Sai at the last moment. And we get there by being established one-hundred percent in Sai at this moment. And at every moment from now on. It is constantly reaffirming Swami's prescription: "Let go of the world, hold on to God and never fear death."
"My grace comes like a flash," he says. "When you least expect I act. You must always be ready."

10  Let Go, Let God
   Once I complained to Swami, "Swamiji, the spiritual path is so difficult." "No," he said, "it is very easy, easier than anything else in the world." He took his handkerchief and grasped it in his hand very tightly. He said, "You see, this is difficult. But spiritual path is not this. Spiritual path is very easy." He just opened his hand and the handkerchief fell down to the ground. "You see how easy it is. Letting go is easy. That is all there is to it."

   So when we reach the point when we want nothing else but God and to fill ourselves only with God, then we are on the spiritual path. And that is not really so difficult. All we have to do is just let go of everything else.

   One time he came up to me on the verandah and asked, "Drunker, what do you want?" I laughed at his twst of my name and I answered his question, "Swamiji, I'm very content. I'm satisfied." "You mean you want nothing?" he asked, with some astonishment in his voice. I said,"Swamiji, all I want is God!" "That's not NOTHING," he said quite forcefully, "That's EVERYTHING... that's health, wealth, freedom, liberation, bliss..." And he continued on with a long list of good things. Then he added, "Nothing is there!" pointing to the world outside the ashram, "Everything is here! Everything!" and he pointed to my heart.

   So, it is all already here within us, one hundred percent; nothing more needs to be given. Only the veil of ignorance must be removed. The room may have been dark for thousands of years, but the sunlight will always be waiting. Pull away the curtain and instantly the darkness will be replaced by a dazzling flood of light.
 11  The Death of the Human Being, the Birth of the Lord

   Now, let us get back to Swami's Bhagavata Vahini: When the book is almost finished, on the very last pages, Suka tells the story of the birth of Krishna. So, this book starts with the birth of a human child who seeks everywhere to find his savior. He cannot forget the powerful vision he had of that beautiful boy who saved his life.

   After the royal child is born he discovers that the remarkable uterine brother who had come and saved him in the womb was none other than Lord Krishna. But soon thereafter the Lord left the earth. The child became a man, a king, involved in the affairs of the world. With the onset of Kali, his spiritual roots become more and more dimmed. Only his name, Parikshith, remained to remind him of his indefatigable quest as an infant to find the Lord, who was so close to him in the womb.

   But then the king came under a sentence of death. Now, after all these years, he returned to his quest. But now he looks inside for the Lord. He fills his heart with the sweet stories of the miracles and play of the Lord. And then finally, at the end of the book, Swami tells the story of the birth of the Lord in human form as Krishna.
Krishna was born in a dungeon cell, the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudeva. The mother and father were chained to the wall of this dark dungeon cell. It had been prophesied that their eighth child would kill the evil king, Kamsa. Kamsa threw them into the dungeon so that each child as it was born could be taken by him and destroyed.

   You can almost get a sense of what those poor souls must have felt like, with each of their children and all their hopes shattered, if you go out to that rock a little distance from here and see those holes in it, which could have held the chains that shackled Krishna's parents to the dungeon wall.

   Suddenly, their candle went out; they were plunged into darkness. Then this beautiful golden light filled their cell and they made out the image of Narayana, the Lord, with his four hands, one hand raised in blessing. The Lord said to them, "In a moment I will be born as your child. Do not have any fear. There is no force on the earth or in the wholecosmos that can harm me in any way. The mission for which I have come will

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