17 -18 Jan, Madurai, Tamil Nadu – Bharata Yatra 2015
After Amma had distributed prasad dinner at her Madurai ashram on Jan 16, she encouraged her children to put questions to her. Amma said that the quality of the questions asked indicates the spiritual evolution of the questioner. She said, “To know the taste of the sugar inside a bag, there is no need to taste the entire stock. It is enough if we try a sample from the bag. To check if the rice is boiled inside a bowl, there is no need to examine all of it. It is enough if we test one or two grains. Similarly, to know the spiritual evolution of the disciples, it is enough to hear a few of their questions.
Amma continued, “In olden days the disciples asked the Guru about Mithya (the changing or unreal nature of the world), or they might request the guru to elaborate on Tatvamasi (Thou Art That), and the Guru might give an answer in one or two words. The disciples contemplated on this reply and wrote elaborate commentaries about it. Actually, the Guru’s answer can be likened to a small key which is enough to open a big treasure chest containing priceless treasures.”
Encouraged by Amma’s words, one of the devotees requested Amma to elaborate on the Upanishadic statement Tatvamasi (Tat – Tvam – Asi; Thou Art That).
Amma said, “It is very easy to repeat such statements. But one needs to realize the truth indicated by them. Just as the electric current passing through the bulb is separate from the bulb, your true nature is different from your body. Of course, the light comes through the bulb but it doesn’t belong to the bulb. Your true nature is the Atman. If you realize the pure self, you become an all-knower. (Knowing that the Atman is the essence of all things and beings).
“Suppose a person by the name Madhavan passes by. One might say, ‘Madhava is passing by.’ And, if he dies and people are carrying his dead body, one might say, ‘Madhavan’s dead body is passing by.’ What is that which enlivened Madhavan’s body? It is the indwelling consciousness. That is your true nature!
“Usually, people answer the phone by saying, ‘Hello! I am so and so speaking’. Everybody says ‘I am’ while answering the phone. ‘I am’ is universal. The ‘I’ is the indwelling consciousness.
“Say, there are 1000 pots of water kept in a place. And the sun is shining brightly. We might see 1000 suns reflected in those 1000 pots of water. Actually, there is only one sun. Similarly, the Atman is just one. This Atman is all-pervading.
“The all-pervading nature of the Atman is indicated by the Upanishadic statements ‘Tatvamasi‘ and ‘Ishavasyam Idam Sarvam‘ (All of This is Pervaded by Divinity). To awaken to this truth, one needs to contemplate constantly. Right now, our attachment to the body, mind and intellect is very deep.”
In order to explain this, Amma told a story, “Once, three people named Madhava, Govinda and Keshava were walking. One person called from the back, ‘Hey! Madhava!’ and Madhava turned back. Next he called, ‘Hey! Govinda!’ and Govinda turned back. Then he called, ‘Hey! Keshava!’ and Keshava turned around. Finally, the person called, ‘Hey! Monkey!’ and all three of them turned back. This shows that the identification with our animalistic tendencies is still very strong.
“Merely repeating scriptural statements is not enough. It is not enough to say ‘flower’- we need to become like a flower. If we write ‘honey’ on a piece of paper and lick it, we won’t experience the taste of honey. Similarly, merely verbalizing scriptural statements is not enough. One needs to get established in the truth. You have to become That.
“Selfless service purifies the mind and makes a person fit to imbibe scriptural knowledge.
“The Puranas say that when the milky ocean was churned, the goddess of wealth, a horse, and a divine elephant appeared first. Then the deadly poison emerged. Out of compassion to save the universe, Lord Shiva consumed the poison. Only after that, the Ambrosia came out. The story indicates that only when we develop the attitude of acceptance even to poison, do we become fit to receive the Ambrosia.
“Therefore, contemplation, selfless service and the attitude of acceptance are qualities most needed to become established in Tatvamasi.”