Sai Darshan Home
Date:20 Jul 1996 Occasion:Divine Discourse Place:Prashanti Nilayam

Forms Of Worship

One may be an expert and a scholar in all epics and sacred texts;
One may be one of penance and may achieve many of the heights in the spiritual field;
One may be one of sacrifice, but yet none would ever equal a devotee.

Based on the propagation and the teaching of the culture of Bharath, since ancient times, people have been pursuing various paths to reach God. As per Vedic doctrine, there are four paths:

  1. Sathyavathi Aradhana
  2. Angavathi
  3. Anyavathi
  4. Nidhanavathi

Sathyavathi Aradhana: In this form of worship, God is believed to be omnipresent just as the butter that is spread all over in the milk but not seen, as oil in til (sesame) seeds, as fire in wood. Vishwam Vishnumayam Jagath. Here, the Divine is considered as the cause and the universe as effect.

Angavathi: Here, all five elements - sound, wind, fire, water, earth - are considered divine and each element is worshipped individually. Even today, Ganges is worshipped as divine mother. Fire, considering as Agnihotri, is worshipped by making all offerings to it. Rain is considered as God Varuna and worshipped.

Anyavathi: In this form of worship, there is a specific form and a specific sign. One with a bow and arrow means Kodandapani or Rama. One with hair in forelocks and Ganga outflowing from it means Ishwara. One with a conch and mace means Vishnu. One with a peacock feather and a flute means Krishna. One with a Veena means Saraswathi. All deities are worshipped based on the insignia they have. People worship a particular deity keeping in mind the name and the form with various signs. Without this combination of name and form you do not find the feelings flowing from the depth of the heart. Here is a match-box. (just created). The match box and the match sticks contain the same power. One is the form and other is the name. Fire emanates when match stick strikes at the match box. Similarly, wisdom arises when the name and form combine. This is called Jnanagni or fire of wisdom. The power present in the name is very much same as the power present in the form. The name makes you think of the form. The form makes you chant the name of the God. The name and form reflect the same divine principle.

Nidhanavathi: It is the spiritual practice or sadhana undertaken. The eight paths of sadhana or nine paths of devotion come under this category where nine paths being listening, singing, chanting, service, salutation, worship, friendship and surrender. This type of worship is also called Upanishad meaning that which takes you to goal. You should not forget or change your goal. Since ancient time, aspirants followed the culture of Bharath, adhered to all the procedures laid out in the Vedas and could attain Divinity.

With the passage of time, due to the effect of Kali, modern people have ignored these spiritual practices. How is one to consider the stone as God, tree a God, anthill a God, cows a God? People have started putting these sorts of questions. It is a narrow minded feeling. What is the inner significance of Ishwara sarva bhootanam. God is present in every being animate and inanimate. Instead science declares the atom is present in every matter. When you say that this atom is present everywhere, why can't it be the Divine Power?

In ancient times, people felt that everything is Rama-Mayam but today, modern people consider that everything is science-mayam. What is this science? Nothing is as ignorant and innocent as it is in science. You think that science has improved, technology has progressed but at the same time, do not forget that ignorance is also simultaneously growing. Therefore, pragjnanam, vigjnanam, agjnanam (spirituality, science, ignorance) are following each other like three birds. The reality is always followed by the shadow. If there is no contradictory ideas of this sort, then faith develops spontaneously.

Pleasure is an interval between two pains. A boy just now prayed to Swami to give him a strong and unshaken faith. It is one of innocence. Faith cannot be developed by anyone. It comes along with the birth. Once when you know the truth, then faith automatically develops. If you say so and so is your mother, you say it with full faith. If you do not have faith, you cannot declare that so and so is your mother. Similarly, if you say so and so is your God, it means you have got full faith in God. This is the secret of greatness. First, have faith in yourself. The one who has got faith in himself will alone have faith in God. The one who has no faith in himself will not repose faith in God. The unity that lies between faith in oneself and faith in God is considered in the Vedas, and it states Poorna Mada, Poorna Idam Poornath Poorna Mudachyate. That is full; This is also equally full. So it is Divinity that is equally the same in both.

Since ancient times, as per Vedic injunctions and teachings, we have so many traditions and rituals in which we have full faith. We have full faith that there is no material in this world without Divinity attached to it. Do you find any name without a form? Now, here is a name God. Where from you get this name? Without the form, you cannot get the name. However some argue - There is a word gaganapushpa. The flower of the sky. Do you have flowers in the sky? Then without the form in the sky, how do you get this name? It is not a single name. It is a combination of two words. Here God is a single word but not a combination of two words.

Since ancient times people have believed that name and form are inter-related. You cannot deny this fact. In this world you may find many names and many forms. Eka Prabhu Ke Aneka Naam. God wills that He wants to appear in many. To understand the unity in diversity and to teach this lesson to mankind, the three pathways Karma, Upasana, Jnana (Action, Worship, Wisdom) are prescribed. These paths will help us to understand the Unity that lies in Divinity. Ekam Sath Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi. Truth is one but it is spoken in various ways by various people. If you ask any boy which is bigger of the numbers 1 or 9, he would say 9. But 1 is greater. 1+1+1+1+ and so on makes 9. You should look for number 1 in the number 9 which is the essence of Unity in Diversity. So, 1 is Hero. This world is Zero. A man of Hero will become Zero if he forgets God. To recognize this God, you have to undergo spiritual sadhana. If you keep on singing, you can sing a song well. If you keep on eating, even the fruit of the neem would be sweet. If you go on chanting the name of God, you will naturally experience Divinity. Therefore we should think of God continuously.

All over Bharath, there was nothing but devotion. But due to Kali effect, it has become the opposite. You believe in moorkathwam (foolishness) but not in moorthithatwam (Divinity). To believe that divinity is present in all birds and animals is a sign of social security in ancient Bharath. This social security is present only in Bharath and not elsewhere. If they see the tree, they would say it is divinity; anthill is God; a sculpture, if he sees some stone in a mountain, he chisels and shapes it to the form of Rama. Now, the question is whether the sculptor got the form of Rama or Rama is already present in it. Rama was there before. Therefore, Divinity is present in all. However, here is a small example. You install the idol of Rama in a temple and worship. You consider the idol as Rama. In the process of making this idol, many of the pieces would have fallen down on the ground. No one would ever worship the pieces fallen on the ground. What is the reason? There is no form in it. Still the pieces start telling that the idol and we, the pieces, are one and the same. It is only the sculptor who brought the separation to us. This is called Tat-Twam-Asi, Aham Brahma Asmi. Because of worldly desires, we classify, fragment and we divide. The mistake lies in the individual. God is everywhere.

At one time, Thyagaraja's brother Ramanna threw the idol of Rama in the river Cauvery. There is a reason for it. When the Raja of Tanjore sent a presentation of precious jewels to Thyagaraja, he asked himself, " O mind! tell the truth - whether the proximity of Lord gives happiness or all these riches and wealth". Finding out the truth, he rejected all these gifts. Suddenly, to his disappointment, he could not find Rama's idol in the altar. He lost his heart. He cried "Oh Rama! where shall I search for You" He went round and round in search of Rama's idol. Getting exhausted and tired , he went to Cauvery river to take bath. While chanting Keshavaya namaha, Madhavaya namaha, Narayanaya namaha.... after collecting a handful of water, it was there in his palm . Only in such feeling of devotion can you see the unity in this world and not diversity. If any old friends come to our house, we say little indifferently, "come on" If new friends come, we welcome them saying "please come...please come..." We extend extra courtesy to new friends. We provide them a seat, give a cup of coffee and they are looked after with all comforts and facilities. For old friends, without much of concern, we talk, "Hey what man, why have you come, what do you want...." Thyagaraja had this sort of old friend relationship with Rama. Rama is an old friend for Thyagaraja. Therefore, he sang "come home, come home, oh, Rama; O Son of Dasaratha, I cannot bear the pangs of separation, please come home, please come home...." (He uses the informal Telugu word for you come - Rara...Rara...). In another song, he says "where shall I search for You, who have I got to protect myself, more than You, whom do I have..." (here also he uses the word Rara...). Thus he treats Rama as an old friend. You are not existing just with the present birth. You have taken so many births one after another. That is why the word Manava. Ma means No and Nava means New. I am not new. We should not consider God as a new friend. He is praised as Anaadi (ancient), Anantham (fullness), Aprameya ( beyond all measures) etc. How much ever you have known of God, you still feel you have to know much more of Him. There is none in this world who has known the Divinity in full.

A Sanyasi was doing meditation in order to know and experience God. God manifested in front of him in the form of a small boy. He asked "Oh grandfather, what are you doing?" He replied that he is making an effort to know God. The boy asked "Have you realised Him?". "Not yet he answered. So he returned. The boy is none other than God Himself. The old man is concentrating on a particular form considering that form alone as God. He wanted the manifestation of God as he is imagining. Again, after one month, this boy came. This Sanyasi opened his eye not fully but in half. The boy asked "Oh grandfather, have you known God". "Yes" he replied. He said that he has known to the extent he opened his eye. The boy said o.k. know in full" and returned. After a month, he reappeared. This time, the Sanyasi opened his eye fully, "Oh grandfather, have you known God" . "Yes, I have known" he answered. What is it that you have known, the boy asked. The Sanyasi said that he has known that He cannot be known. It is not possible to know of God. God can come in any form as He came in this case, as a small boy. Sarva Roopa Namaskaram Kesavam Prathi Gacchathi. Prayers to all forms that we see around goes to Kesava Himself. Similarly, whomsoever you deny it amounts to denial of Keshava. It means that God is present in all beings. All forms are His. God comes in human form. You have to know this truth first. God is described as Viswa Virata Swaroopam. All the heads are Divine, all hands are His, all feet are His.

We pray to Swami to give this sort of faith. But it is like a business transaction . You yourself have to develop. You have to satisfy your hunger, you have to take medicines for your disease. Therefore, with your love, you develop faith. Love is not a gift. You plant a sapling, water and manure it, you grow a gigantic tree. You have to water with the water of love, manure with the manure of faith. Then grows the tree of devotion to God. Without these love and faith, if you keep on pulling the saplings it will not grow at all. Each one has to work for one's own self. There is love, faith in every man. You have to direct them to God. Work is transformed into worship. Whatever work you do, consider it as Divine. Whatever form you see, consider it as God's form. God has so many forms. But you should make one form permanent in spiritual sadhana. This very one form will assume many forms in worship.

Therefore, our ancient saints, seers, aspirants considered these four forms of worship in order to attain liberation. Our ancients are not fools. They investigate, explore, research the principle of Divinity. Only modern educated fools will criticize this aspect of faith. But none can describe Divinity in a specific way. If one comes to you and argues with you that there is no God, you can easily answer, "You have got every right to deny your God but not my God. Who are you to deny my God? Once when you have such strong faith, you can achieve anything in this world. This is called determination. Swami has said earlier also of 3 P's : Purity, Patience, Perseverance. You can achieve any victory with these 3 P's. But first you should have determination. On what should you have determination? On good things and not on bad things. If you concentrate to determine on bad things it is not determination but foolishness. Do not leave this determination even at the cost of life. Prahalada did not leave the name "Narayana" under any circumstances. He was not afraid of anything. His father being a demon put him to all troubles. But his very faith was protecting him. Ultimately, his father was punished. Therefore in respect of God and the spiritual path, you should have strong determination. You should not go by the word that is said by those Mallayya, Nallayya that walk on the street.

Today no one believes in God but reads all sorts of mad novels, newspapers. If an astrologer tells something, you believe his words. There are some more fellows now. Some assume the form of Sai Baba with the same hair style, long gown saying that Sai Baba has given him all powers thereby enacting some drama. They are foolish fellows. The power of Sai Baba cannot be given and cannot be taken. Many people believe such things and get betrayed. Do not go like this. You should achieve with your faith. True faith requires one pointed attention, the principle of Unity. That is stable, steady devotion. Then only will you have an unwavering mind and steady concentration. It is very essential in the matter of sadhana. God will put you to all sorts of problems. But God will never put you to all sufferings. He is just the witness for all. Only your actions assume the form of all your problems and difficulties. You should not be depressed by it . Whatever you get, you should feel, it is for your goodness. With this faith, you will achieve anything in this world. Sai teaching is only one - singing of bhajans, bhajans and bhajans and singing with love.

[Bhagavan concluded His Divine discourse with the Bhajan 'Prema Mudhitha Manase Kaho Rama Rama Ram'.]