June 14, 1999, Monday
The dates of June 12 and 13 will remain unforgettable to me. On the night of Saturday, the 12th, around 8 pm, a burglar or burglars entered our house. They broke the locks of the two front doors with the help of pry bars, came in and ransacked our bedroom, Archana’s and father’s rooms upstairs, the archives room, and all. I am surprised at myself -- before I had left, I felt like removing all the cash from the wooden cabinet and transferring it into the steel cabinet and locking the cabinet. Normally, even when I go on a journey for months, I would always leave the money in the wooden cabinet. I still don’t understand why, this time, I felt like moving the money over to the steel cabinet, and why those scoundrels didn’t touch the steel cabinet but only pried open the wooden cabinets and ransacked them.
Not much is lost because of that. They took some three hundred rupees belonging to father and my Sanyo radio-tape-recorder. That was all they could find. Another surprising thing is that I had thought of taking all the cash from the wooden cabinet to Tirupati with me. I don’t normally do that. Even though I knew I was returning in a day, the precautions I took this time I had never taken before even when I went away for weeks. The burglars would have profited more if they had opened the steel cabinet. I must say it was their misfortune. Or should I say it was my good luck.
Why did I think of taking those precautions? Did I know about it vaguely? I had a vague feeling that some such thing might happen. That’s why when Ranganadha Rao brought the school money, I deposited it in the bank on Saturday. I gave Suguna a thousand rupees. I put five thousand in my purse and packed it in my suitcase. That’s why they couldn’t get hold of it.
Two nights ago, Venkata Chalapati, Sri Ram and Madan came to my father’s aid, called the police on the phone and did whatever was needed. And they sent a message to us in Tirupati, where we had gone on a pilgrimage.
Here I must report especially on the agitation that was stirred up in my mind. In the middle of the night of Saturday the 12th, while we were soundly asleep in cottage No. 83A of the ATC, Swami sent a message through a policeman. I was woken up; I went out and phoned. Prahlad and Swami told me about the burglary back home. When they finished, I thought for a moment that my heart had stopped. When I asked Venkata Chalapati anxiously what all they had stolen, he reported briefly that it didn’t look like they had touched the steel cabinet. I was relieved. From what he said it seemed like all the major items were in their places. I didn’t disclose the news to Suguna thinking that we probably hadn’t lost much. All five us got up early Sunday morning, washed, went to the after-worship darshan, and had the darshan of the image of Venkateswara to our heart’s content. There was a humungous crowd. Everything went according to schedule. By 6 am we left for the foothills in the car.
Ever since I learned about the Saturday night burglary, my mind has become agitated. I worried about what they had stolen, how they might have strewn things around the house and what losses I might have incurred.
I remember having written on the topic of burglary before, especially regarding UG’s opinions on this. He does not just have opinions; his feelings on the matter show even in the ways he acts. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t like us to use the word ‘stealing’. “If you won’t let me take what I want, then I will trick you and take it in my own way. If you then call my action stealing, I won’t object,” – that has been his disposition ever since he was young.
“Steal, but don’t get caught,” is one of UG’s maxims. It’s a truth which he has understood and applied in his life literally.
That night I was lying sleeplessly in bed in the cottage room thinking: “Don’t I know the song, ‘Do I live forever? How long will I live? None of these [things and people] will come with me when I die’? Still, why this attachment saying ‘These things are mine; I own them’? What’s the problem if I don’t possess them? Poor fellows, if they take whatever they need, why do I get agitated? I wonder why I didn’t think at that time of the Bible sentence which UG quotes, ‘The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’!” I thought of UG for a while and lay in bed.
Thoughts: What might the police be doing around the house? The police and the street dogs were probably making a lot of noise. Why did this happen? Why did such a calamity occur right when we had gone to the Hill for the darshan? My mind was searching for a cause-and-effect connection.
I was walking around appearing confident, without yet revealing the news to Suguna and others. But I wasn’t at peace. To come to such a settled state as “Whatever I’ve lost, I’ve lost; what do I care about it?” it took me some time. “I have this anxiety, pain and disturbance only if I think those things are mine. If this body itself is not mine, what do I care about these other things?” The mind simmered and began to calm down. I only form dependence on or bonds with those things which I think are mine. The day is nearing when I have to take leave from this world. I know that the world will be perfect even without me. But still, what’s the meaning of such a thing happening on the same day that we undertook a trip to Tirupati?
“Our days are not good. That’s why everyone in the household is suffering from fever, and the burglary and such other calamities are taking place,” said Suguna when I reported to her about the incident.
“So what if your things are gone? If the burglars take away unnecessary things, then your burden is reduced. If they take the things you needed, then you can buy new ones. Where’s the loss in this?” asks UG.
Some years ago, when Archana was sad because someone had stolen her old sandals, UG promptly said, “Why are you so sorry that you have lost some old shoes? You must be glad that you will be getting new ones.” How true! Archana didn’t regret their loss very much.
I recalled all those things and reconciled myself. Still, the inner disturbance has not gone away completely. I wasn’t at peace until I came home and ran an inventory.
* * *
The more I look the more I am amazed at how everyone is gripped by a desire for security. Security can take different shapes, depending on the mentality of the person. To a family man, security is having a family; and to the renunciate, security is in trying to save the world. If you look into these two deeply, they are based on the same desire. The family man reveres the monk; he treats him with respect. He worships him because he thinks that he has conquered his selfishness and is striving to help others. The monk too falls into the same deception. His pride is to think that he is moving away from personal problems and desires and is striving for the welfare of mankind. But, however much he tries to get rid of his pride, however much he broadens his mind with the idea of giving, he will not be completely free of the idea that he is superior to the family man. The family man gains security with the idea that he is doing good for many people. “This is going well; I must progress in this fashion; I must improve” -- that’s what you need to feel continually for your sense of security. It is to feel secure that we worship, meditate, do charity, feed the poor and make pilgrimages. While we are doing all these things, we tell ourselves, “I am doing these things. I am dedicating these actions to God and am acting disinterestedly.” Through such thinking our sense of security gains strength.
I have many thoughts about this. Can I write them all down this morning? This writing, as a matter of fact, is my security, my main support. I feel I am alive when I write.
My eyes are closing. It must be from the Horlicks I drank.
* * *
The news of the burglary spread all around by word of mouth. Some phoned and expressed their sympathy. Some others visited us to console us. Although we had not informed them, many people got to know of it anyway. It’s becoming impossible to convince those who have came to comfort us that we haven’t lost much, that we’ve only lost, as far as we know, a couple of things, and that we are not experiencing any hardship from losing them. “Is that so? You haven’t lost anything of value? All your money and jewelry are safe? They didn’t steal them?” they ask as though they can’t believe me. Many seemed disappointed that the burglars didn’t bother with the steel cabinet. Some seemed to be almost mad that after successfully breaking the locks and doors and entering, the burglars had not ransacked the whole house.
What were the burglars expecting to take? Why did those brave people who put forth so much effort in daring to break in run away with almost empty hands? I don’t understand that. I think that they were probably looking for some cash or gold. They couldn’t find anything of value in the wooden cabinet. The steel cabinet was not open. It was locked. And they might have hesitated to open it. They didn’t seem to want just anything that was readily at hand. And all they could find was the tape recorder. They didn’t did get mad that they couldn’t find what they wanted and break or destroy things. They seem pretty honorable, as thieves go.
Archana said yesterday, “Whoever they are, if I see them, I would like to interview them: ‘How did you like our house? Whose room did you like best? What did you want the most when you saw our things here? What are your tastes? Didn’t you have enough time to take more? Why did you stop in the middle and leave? You didn’t like the things in our house?’” She said she would have liked to ask them such questions.
They seem to be gentlemen. I feel that they came to warn us to guard our house more carefully. Yesterday, after reviewing this whole affair at her leisure, Suguna became terrified. “Suppose something had happened, something that I can’t imagine had happened...,” she worried.
* * *
June 16, 1999, Wednesday
It has become a habit of mine to think that whatever happens is ultimately for our own good, that the final outcome will eventually be beneficial. With the events that had occurred last Saturday still fresh in our minds, Suguna and I have been consoling ourselves variously: that some force caused all this for our own good; that because such an event was unavoidable, as the proverb says, “whereas the head should have gone [been beheaded], only the turban was lost”; that this warning will lead us to take more precautions so that such calamities might not happen again; that there is a Force that has been constantly looking after our welfare; and that the few things that were lost were a good riddance.
I can only laugh at our foolishness. Yesterday evening I told Major, “I believe that an omnipresent Force is protecting us constantly and looking after our welfare.”
“Yes, good, keep to that belief,” he said laughing. I heard sarcasm in that laughter. The sarcasm indicated his thinking that after all these years of company with UG, I hadn’t gotten rid of my old beliefs.
Then should I not believe? I certainly do believe. The Lord of all, the Omnipresent is not only in me and but is everywhere and is maintaining the difference between Him and me. As long as I have a consciousness of myself, God exists for me. He deludes me into believing that He is sometimes with me and sometimes other than me, sometimes near me and sometimes far away from me.
This consciousness of ‘I’ is implanted so deeply and intensely that I no longer think that the belief in it will ever go away even if my body perishes. I think it will continue in some form or other. If it not only creates my existence and maintains it by even continuing in my sleep and dreams, where is the guarantee that it won’t remain even after my death? Such is my rational thinking.
Still, I forget that events don’t always conform to that rational order. When something happens, I try to connect its antecedents and consequents rationally as causes and effects – isn’t this falling into an illusion? I am inevitably reminded of the song in the film 'Vemana': “Don’t fall into delusion, oh, my mind!” Since recalling that song, movie dialogues and scenes have been running past my eyes. Nagayya’s unique and amazing acting comes alive before my eyes. My head is filled with such thoughts. Will they ever stop?
* * *
47. A Memento for the Barber
June 17, 1999, Thursday
UG has a different influence on each person. Even those who meet him casually cannot forget him. They frequently recall their time with him. When UG arrived this time, he said he had to go a barber. Normally he goes to the hairdresser in the Holiday Inn (now La Meridian Hotel). He sheds a hundred rupees there for a haircut. UG remunerates the barber well. I don’t even have to mention how he rewards the tailor.
“We are lucky to find people to work for us. It’s not enough to pay them exactly; you must satisfy and gratify them grandly. We must pay them much more than what is due for their service,” is UG’s policy. He lives that way.
For some reason, UG was reluctant to go that far for a haircut this time. When I suggested that there is a barber shop near our house and I could call that barber, UG agreed. The time then was past 12 noon, almost 1 pm. I went and, interrupting the lunch the barber was about to eat, brought him to our home. He gave UG a nice haircut, having him sit in the portico in a chair. Once the haircut was finished, UG gave him a 50-rupee bill with his own hands. I can’t even remember the barber’s name. He saluted UG very happily and left.
The other day, I went over to his shop for a haircut. As soon as he saw me he asked, “Did that gentleman leave, sir? When will he come again?” Then, all the time he was cutting my hair, he only spoke of UG and asked questions about him. With just one meeting, he had realized that UG was an extraordinary man. “Where can we meet such people? How fortunate I was to give him a haircut! It must be because of my merit from a previous life. I will never spend the Rs.50 he has given me. I have framed the bill and will preserve it,” he said showing me the 50-rupee bill in a frame. He requested, “Please give me a picture of him, sir.” I promised I would, surely. I am thinking of hand delivering a photo of UG to him. I saw a great veneration and joy in him as though he had seen God Himself. He doesn’t care about what UG says or what sort of things he talks about. Just to see him is enough for him. It’s enough to have the pleasure of cutting his hair. Remembering UG talking to him so kindly and waving a reassuring hand at him when he left, the barber was overjoyed as though he had attained a high spiritual state.
* * *
June 25, 1999, Friday
As it was an auspicious day yesterday there were all sorts of religious functions going on everywhere. We discovered that someone had stolen a stereo tape player from my Maruti car, which was parked under the tree in front of our home, by opening its small window. Prahlad was parking his scooter outside the gate in the morning around 6 am when he hollered, “Uncle, come out here, you must see for yourself!” I thought something terrible had happened and my heart beat fast. The back door of the car was open. Strewn on the front seat were pieces of tape, screws and some of the parts that had been taken apart. The thief had skillfully removed the player in order to take it. I was furious when I learned about the theft. Following Venkata Chalapati’s advice, I reported the theft to the police. I called a mechanic from the Maruti Garage and got the window as well as the loose parts reconnected. I gave him 20 rupees for the work he did. I phoned Suguna and told her about the theft from the car. I hardly went out all day. I stayed home and corrected an e-mail problem on the computer with the help of Satyam’s tech support. In the evening, Chalapati and I gave a statement to Santa Raj, the inspector, in the police station. He assured us that he would make out the FIR [report] tomorrow. Chalapati also signed the report as a witness. I didn’t go to the office in the evening. And I didn’t go to the School either. I didn’t move out of the house except for going to the police station. Archana came home early. Prahlad promised to come early, but came around 10 pm.
* * *
I have been upset about the theft yesterday, the second within two weeks, and about losing the tape player in the car. Yesterday, while I sat alone at home, I had all sorts of fears running in my mind. I would look out if I heard any sound. How to live? How to be secure? I was afraid that the ‘expert’ who could steal so quietly and mercilessly from a car which was parked right in front of the owner’s house, knowing well that there were people in the house, could indeed do anything. What has happened to my goodwill toward all living things? Where did my detachment, which presumably regards even my own body as alien, hide? Why am I so confused when a small gadget which I thought was mine is gone? What would I do if the car itself is stolen? What would I do if my whole house is robbed? Why do I have so much confusion?
I asked myself: “What is the relationship between you and these things? Do all these things really exist? There! Your ‘philosophy’ is what irritates me! None of these exist? You say that they don’t exist? Then, why were you so sad all day yesterday? What was that agitation inside you? Why were you so absent-minded as to let the rice in the cooker get burnt? Why is your stomach still upset? What indeed did you lose that belonged to you? Why are you so afraid that you feel you must lock your house? What will happen to you when the time comes for you to leave this world? If you are so perturbed by such a small theft, when the moment comes when you are fated to die and are about to exit this world for good, how much bigger will the storm be that will be raised in your mind? You have been so proud that nothing bothers you and you are not enamored by anything. Yet, if some such small thing, something which is not of everyday use to you, is gone, why are you so sad? It has taken you so long to settle down after this.”
Even Suguna didn’t mention the theft to anyone. Nonetheless, she too must have been disturbed. In all that confusion, the milk boiled over. It’s not good enough for me to console myself saying, “What’s not ours won’t remain with us. If we deserve it, we will have it, or else, we won’t.” Why should there be so much agitation in my mind in the first place? After learning so many things and hearing so much philosophy, after being associated with UG for so many years and boasting that I am ready even to die, why should I become dejected with such a trifle? “However much you have learned, however much you have seen....,” [the first line of a song by Tyagaraja] is this, indeed, your final destiny? Are you truly not afraid of death? Are you ready to say goodbye to the world?
I didn’t notice any fear in the faces of those criminals who had been caught and held in the police station. On the contrary, they appeared quite fearless. The police will beat them. Still, they won’t care. One criminal tried to grab the feet of the inspector, confessing his guilt. But the inspector pounded him on his back and kicked him. Then the inspector turned toward us and talked as if he was a peaceful person. Is he some kind of an enlightened man? Is there any possibility of an iota of humaneness remaining in these people who spend year after year, day in and day out, with thieves like this?
What’s the difference between you and those miserable people, those thieves who toil day in and day out to fill their bellies? To add to it, you complain about them to the police? Is this how cultured you are? Is your culture merely to preach morals to others, so long as the morals don’t apply to you? Is this what you have learned after being educated for so many years, after suffering a few shocks in life and striving for higher states? The song Nagayya sang in the cremation ground holding a skull in his hand – “Is this all? Is this all there is to life in the end?” comes to mind. In the movie Vemana, Vemana [played by Nagayya] wails: “Must one finally mingle in the dust, after wearing various garbs ever since the time of birth, and living through childhood, youth, adulthood and old age? What is the secret of death? What is the aim of life?” Sadasiva [God], who appears in the form of his guru, asks Vemana a counter question, “Do you think that there is even any ultimate meaning at all to life, my son?”
* * *
July 27, 1999, Sunday
I was sad today even before I got up from bed. My mind is getting knotted up again. Yesterday, I saw on the wall of Sudha Clinic a poster which said, “Why do you worry?” It said reassuringly, “50% of your worries do not come to pass.” We can say even a higher percentage don’t. Still the mind won’t quit its worrying. Maybe it’s a human characteristic to elaborate on the calamities that might yet come and the dangers that might pounce on us, thus depriving ourselves of any joy that exists in this moment, reducing it to a moon shining through a thick jungle.
Now, right at this moment, while I am writing this, what do I lack? No, these worries and thoughts just won’t stop. They race in my head like express trains. Nevertheless, I haven’t yet lost the confidence that I can stop them. That’s why I make all this effort. If I keep writing like this, I may be able to reduce their impact somewhat.
I have another thought as to what the connection is between my thoughts and myself. When the anxieties become more intense, my heart palpitates and my mouth becomes dry. The bodily situation becomes similar to one of facing a danger. My stomach gets upset. I feel like I have to go to the bathroom. I can’t focus on anything. Meaningless fears overwhelm me. In that situation, I feel like I lack strength and that I might fall flat on the floor.
Why do things happen like this? Is it because I lack the courage to face circumstances? Why this dread of danger? The root cause of all these fears is the worry that whatever we have will be lost. So what? Will I carry all that with me when the time to depart nears? Still the mind sticks to worries like glue.
The doctors’ announcing that Raghavendra Rao’s health has been deteriorating is the main reason why I was grabbed by these fears yesterday. Other worries in the background include wondering about the precautions I had taken regarding the house and the money I have been spending on them, and the thought that “our times are not right.” Today, ever since I got up, I have had a vague fear that some danger might be in store for today.I don’t think this fear creeps in from outside. I have made all possible effort, indeed, to escape from it. I lament, wondering “Is there a savior who says ‘I am here, I’ll be your support and I will shoulder all your burdens and responsibilities,’ or is there not?”
Then what is all this confusion? If you have true faith in the Lord at all, then why do you have these fears? If you have submitted everything to the Lord, then what do you care what happens? When will I be released from these fears? Maybe the yearning to be released from them is the main cause of them.
Everything is doubtful. I cannot stay with any single thought. Whatever I know is superficial; I have no strong and deep faith in anything; I have no confidence in anything. How fortunate is the fellow who can dump all his burdens on a stone god with a coconut and a salute, and walk away washing his hands of them!
Just now, as I was writing this and worrying at the same time about the milk boiling over, I heard the sound of the milk beginning to boil over. By the time I rushed there, the milk had boiled over. But the mind doesn’t stop regretting the incident. It gets hurt. It feels that the milk belongs to it and is dear to it.
That’s how the mind is. It concocts a thousand fears. With its wild imagination it concocts so many dangers. It doesn’t let you breathe. Holding on to a blind belief that there is definitely a way to get out of this is what makes me write like this. Why should I get out? What do I lose if I keep these worries, fears and anxieties? Why am I concerned about them? It’s easy to write about this. But it should be experienced, right? But who should? Who will miss you if you are indeed totally destroyed? You? You need release? But from what?
* * *
Last night everything was fixed: the gate was repaired, and iron doors with a metal frame were installed upstairs in the back of the house. The car is now parked inside the compound and is resting. The sofa is moved to the balcony upstairs. Everything looks strange because of the changes. The car parked in the portico looks strange. How have all these changes come to be? Why should I writhe in pain because some things were lost in the burglaries? I have been wondering about why Julie suffers even when she has a lot of money and could live as she wants. But then how am I any different?
“Why can’t man be happy? How is it that he is unable to clean the filth of his own [mind]” contemplates Chalam in Sudha? “Why does man want to be permanently happy in the first place?” contemplates UG. The elders bless us saying, “May you be happy!” But what is happiness? Where do we find happiness? How did man come to strive for happiness? No one can answer these three questions. I truly don’t know. I know what happiness is not. I know where it is not. And I know there is striving for it.
* * *
June 28, 1999
As soon as I got up in the morning today Suguna mentioned that she had had a nightmare that UG had died and that she had kept crying in the dream. I used to feel that I couldn’t imagine a world in which there was no UG. UG was part of my very existence once upon a time. Now, does UG exist? Where is he except in your mind? I just believe he exists. I just think. If this world doesn’t exist, where am I? Where indeed am I? All other thoughts are based on the idea of “I am” like the warp and woof of a huge woven edifice. If that piece, that little piece called “I am” is not there, the whole edifice will collapse. Even the thought “I don’t exist” is part of the thought of “I am.” If I am not there how am I conscious that “I am”? When there is no way of knowing it, how could one determine whether I am or I am not?
Last night I was watching the movie Vemana and making a video copy of it till midnight. It took a couple of hours. No matter how many times I watch it, I don’t get tired of it. I feel there is a whole philosophy implied in the dialogue between Siva Yogi and Vemana. When Vemana says, “I am unable to find the ultimate meaning of life, Swami,” Siva Yogi asks him the counter question, “Do you think that there is any ultimate meaning, my son?” A UG-like trend of thought is evident in that answer. There is truth in Sharmila’s saying that UG was Vemana Yogi in a previous life.
Vemana’s struggle is only to find what death is. When Jyoti [the name of his niece; also, lit. ‘light’] was extinguished, his world becomes empty. On the other hand, his previous infatuation with a courtesan evaporates when he finds out her true colors. Declaring, “Abhirama, everyone in this world is a son of the slave of him who has gold,” he launches his effort to make gold through alchemy. He achieves that goal. But the heaven Vemana imagined collapses with the untimely death of Jyoti. Everything becomes hollow. He loses his will to live. As he does not believe in anything, his life then becomes a rudderless ship.
Finally, through the teaching of Siva Yogi he understands his true nature. “You are not concerned with what happens. Your true nature is not what you imagine. You stay where you are from moment to moment,” God teaches Vemana, appearing to him in the form of Siva Yogi. Vemana becomes a yogi. He learns of the union with the entire animate and inanimate worlds, the truth beyond experience, without his being aware of it. Finally, as his final message to Abhirama, he says, “He who learns of where we come from and where we go will become liberated,” and goes into the interior of a cave to lie down to die.
The movie is truly a work of art. No matter how many times you watch it, you won’t get tired of it. Malliswari is also such a movie. It was produced some 50 years ago. It still pleases people like me.
* * *
Dakshinamurti and I were standing on the stairs to the second floor discussing the philosophical teaching of the movie Vemana. We wondered how the writer had come to have such an outlook. A statement like “As long as you have the notion that you are separate from this creation, your anxiety is inevitable, my son,” doesn’t seem to be based merely on a philosophical principle. I feel that the whole essence of UG’s teaching is imbedded in that sentence. “You are not separate from what is happening. All your sorrows result from that feeling of difference you have.” Then who has this anxiety? Who has the expectations? Who has the sorrow? Who has discord in life? Who is there to recognize? This truth cannot remain a mere principle but must operate in day-to-day experience.
* * *
July 5, 1999, Monday
... It seems that there is no culture in the world that doesn’t have some belief in ghosts and spirits. We think that Western nations are more scientifically oriented, but their interest in supernatural experiences is even greater than ours. When Major returned the book he had borrowed from Satyanarayana, we talked about these things. Satyanarayana described his experiences regarding his mother. I felt that I should preserve them in writing.
From the start, Satyanarayana’s mother was psychic. She used to have extrasensory experiences. She was an illiterate; she was a common middleclass housewife and mother of many children. Her husband didn’t stay home much. Gripped by his spiritual craze, he often wandered around the country, served the sadhus he met in his travels, returning home only when he felt like it. His dead sister apparently used to appear to Satyaranarayana’s mother. She used to possess her sometimes. At those times his mother would become ravenously hungry. The poor lady apparently would beg for vadais and payasam and eat huge amounts of food. When she was released from the possession, she would become normal.
Satyanarayana told me that he felt that the difference between Western spirits and these spirits is that in those countries, the spirits mostly seem to thirst for blood and hunger for sex, while in this country, they like to eat foods that they are fond of. He went on to say that of the 12 children his mother had borne, eight became victims to the spirit. His mother had with her own hands laid the baby that was born before Satyanarayana on live charcoal with benzoin sprinkled on it. Despite her state of possessed frenzy, however, she heard the baby’s scream, returned to her senses and quickly pulled the baby off the fire. A few days later the baby died. Satyanarayana told me that it was the spirit that was the cause of this happening. His mother used to see the spirit directly. She could see her clearly and talk to her just as she could see everyone else. At times she played a game of shells with her.
One time, her sister came to visit her. Those were the days when Satyanarayana was still a baby. While her sister sat near the cradle, rocking it, the spirit came. Normally, the spirit would take the baby into her lap and then leave after playing with it for a while. But the mother did not like the spirit coming and picking up the baby; but she didn’t dare oppose the spirit. That day, the spirit didn’t come inside the house. She stayed outside and asked the mother to place the baby in her arms. When the mother asked her to come in and get the baby herself, she replied, “Your sister is standing in the way. I can’t come in.” Then it occurred to his mother that it would be safer for her child to be raised by her sister. That same day, she made her sister the ward of her child. That’s how Satyanarayana survived.
In her final days, three days before she died, she called Satyanarayana to come from his office and told him, “Today I am still in a condition to be able to speak to you. By tomorrow I won’t have this sort of consciousness. You must take on the responsibility of your sister’s marriage. Even if the groom is a beggar, you must give her in wedlock to someone and make her a married woman. After that, her fate will take care of her life.” Exactly on that day, a matchmaker came looking for a bride and his sister’s marriage was arranged.
Satyanarayana’s sister’s life is similar to that of Goda Devi. Just as it happens in the mythologies, the couple’s astrological signs and horoscope were of the same kind. Satyanarayana read in some book about a ‘propitiation’ [a ritual to counteract the evil effects of planets] and arranged for it at his sister’s wedding. The auspicious moment of the wedding fast approached. Satyanarayana had his mother in his mind till the last moment.
While still talking to everyone lucidly, she said, “Your father is beckoning me.” When Satyanarayana showed her the photos of his father and asked her if she could tell the name of the person in them, she would not. When he pressed her, she joined her two hands and recited the “Chandrasekhara Ashtakam”. His father’s name was Chandrasekharayya.
Satyanarayana asked his mother many questions regarding the sighting of these spirits. “You ask me so many questions because you don’t believe. But how can I brush off my own experience?” she would reply. Satyanarayana had no way of challenging what she said.
“Do you believe in all these things?” Major asked him. I can’t remember what Satyanarayana’s answer was. But he does believe. Whatever terms one uses, terms such as ‘vibrations’ and ‘spirits’, everyone has gone through some extrasensory experience. UG too has spoken of such things and of the incidents that had happened to him.
When someone once asked him, “Then isn’t ‘death’ the end? Will there be something remaining after that?” “I don’t know what remains, but find out what there is now,” he replied. If you know what there is now, then you will understand what will remain tomorrow. We don’t even know that. Just words, a show of words – we don’t know anything more. If there is something, does it mean that it’s something separate from ‘me’? The ‘I’ is just a memory. Yet, there is nothing separate and beyond it. There is no way to know whether that memory will survive or will perish with the body. To know is to remember. There is nothing beyond memory. Intelligence is also memory. It must shine as the light of experience. It should fill with light. Till then doubts will not subside. This is what I discussed with Major and Venkata Chalapati last evening.
The consciousness of myself and the intelligence that says “I am” exist separately. But I don’t understand UG when he says that the ‘you’ is a mere fear.
“Why this futile yearning to bring into experience what is beyond experience?” asks UG. That’s the source of man’s restlessness. Why can’t he achieve that state of mind which can accept whatever happens without question? ‘Achieve’ doesn’t mean that you have to do anything. Nevertheless, I can’t believe that it will happen without my doing something. If such a state occurs, then all these questions will stop. This duality will disappear. But that unity is not the unity which the Vedantins teach. It’s not imagining in your head, ‘One, without a second,’ and living a solitary life or living in caves or on mountain peaks or in jungles. That unity will remain the simplest mystery which will never be known. No one can know or explain it.
* * *
54. The Documentary Produced by BBC
Last night, Mahesh phoned. Apparently some BBC people met with Mahesh yesterday and asked his permission to produce a documentary. They are trying to depict the prominent influences in the lives of celebrities. Mahesh said to me, “What other influence has there been on me except UG’s? So, the BBC crew and I are coming to Bangalore on the 15th.
Exactly twenty years ago, in ‘Sastri Sadan’ in West Anjaneya Street, a new life of mine began. ‘When you look back, you will know that this day is an important day in your life, Mahesh! Go and mold your life and your future in a grand fashion,’ UG said, patting me on the shoulder and seeing me off. I have never looked back since that day,” said Mahesh. What a state he was in twenty years ago! That was when Mahesh had broken up with Parveen. He didn’t have any credible position in the movie field. Every film he had produced was a flop. They nicknamed him ‘flop director’. Since that day, he has toiled and built his career gradually. He never turned away from UG’s influence. This year he is quitting his work as a film director. “We are coming to shoot a documentary on that street, the temple premises, the house ‘Sastri Sadan’ – all those places which stood as silent witnesses,” continued Mahesh. He said they would shoot Major’s Farm House also. I must tell him to include ‘Poorna Kuti’ as well. If we need to, we can get permission to enter it that day from Mr. Narayana Dasu. On the phone Mahesh recalled UG’s previous warning “Let the BBC people come to you first; don’t rush into it.”
* * *
July 17, 1999 (Saturday)
Yesterday, I got ready early in the morning. Mahesh brought his car exactly at 5 am. Fifteen minutes later, I and Mahesh were having coffee in the West End Hotel. From there we went to MG Road with the BBC crew. They set up a camera tripod in the middle of the road in front of Gangaram’s. The sky was heavily overcast. The BBC people traveled from Delhi especially to film the documentary. One of them was a young lady called Nandini. The photographer was Sankar Raman. They both live in Bombay now. Raman is a South Indian. When Suguna made dosais and served them, he ate about six or seven of them with gusto. “When I eat these dosais, I am reminded of the dosais my mother used to make, Auntie,” he complimented. Nandini is a Maharashtrian lady. Her grandfather was a lieutenant colonel in the army. As soon as she mentioned her grandfather’s name, it caused a whole history to spill from Dakshinamurti’s encyclopedic memory. I can’t remember the name of that colonel, try as I might. I don’t know how Major can remember all that. It’s amazing. While watching a documentary on Budapest on the Discovery Channel, Major narrated the whole story of that city. When I asked him, “How do you know all this?” he told me that he had read about it in the newspapers when he was young. There is a river which connects the two cities of Buda and Pest. The two cities together are now called Budapest. It’s the capital of Hungary. How many things he knows like this! He has a great memory. He has the ability to recite verbatim anything even after many years.
It was two days ago when Mahesh had helped the BBC crew film ‘Sastri Sadan’ on West Anjaneya Temple Street. They filmed the scenes of Mahesh pushing the calling bell, my opening the door, coming out and talking to him, and so on. Meanwhile, many girls who were on the way to their school in BMS College gathered around Mahesh for his autograph. Then, around 2 pm, we went to Vidyarthi Bhavan Restaurant.
Twenty years ago, in October 1979, Mahesh’s new life was launched in West Anjaneya Temple Street. “Forget everything that has happened up till now. You must mold a new future, Mahesh. If you fail, I will never forgive you,” UG said, putting him into an auto-rickshaw and bidding him goodbye. In that same spot, two days ago, Mahesh reminisced about UG’s prophesy, “When you look back, this day will seem to be historic to you,” made twenty years ago.
What days they were! A new life started for me in the same house. Marriage with Suguna, setting up house, children being born, advancement in career – they all happened in ‘Sastri Sadan’. How many memories there are surrounding this old house! “Man is a bundle of memories and nothing more,” says UG. The life of an individual is nothing but remembering many things and living in the past. That’s all.
Yesterday morning, when Mahesh and I were going to the Farm House in the Maruti car, Mahesh remarked “Yesterday, suddenly a question grabbed me, Babu,” and he told me about it.
He had been sitting alone in his West End Hotel room. The BBC people had left by then. Mahesh thinks that the atmosphere in that hotel is like nowhere else in the country. There is a dense garden in the yard. Where you look, you see the greenery of the grand hundred-year-old trees. If you are looking from inside the room, you have the illusion of being in a jungle. You don’t feel that you are in a hotel. The rooms are decorated quite tastefully. When you enter the street from the hotel, you are right in the central hub of the town. Wherever you want to go, it’s only about twenty minutes by car. “Nowhere else can you find such convenience,” remarked Mahesh.
Sitting in that West End room, suddenly Mahesh had been struck with doubt: “How do I know that this is the West End and that this is Bangalore; how am I able to know that a person called ‘I’ exists?” He felt this not just as a set of thought or questions, but as a search which filled his whole existence. “How do I know?” That’s right. How do I know that I am such and such and that all these things around here pertain to me?
* * *
Then Mahesh phoned last evening from Bombay. “Babu, Ajay Devgun in my Zakhm movie got the Best Actor award. And there were two more awards. Altogether my last film got three national awards,” he told me. I congratulated him happily. Zakhm is based on his mother’s story. I haven’t seen it yet. Isn’t it remarkable that right at the same time that he has been reminiscing his life of twenty years ago in Bangalore, remembering about how UG’s unique influence had resurrected his ruined life, that his current work of art has been awarded three national awards? What more could he be proud of? Mahesh’s life is fulfilled. When UG said “If you fail in life, I will never forgive you,” as though he was rubbing salt into his wound, he had been a true inspiration for Mahesh’s success.
* * *
September 14, 1999 (Tuesday)
This machine called the brain starts working as soon as I get up from bed in the morning. I think that the noise goes on even during my sleep. You just can’t hear it from outside. It starts as soon as I wake up. From that moment, it goes on till I drop off to sleep at night. What can I do? When I look back, I realize I have been fighting this ‘noise’ all my life -- different kinds of noises, some which I like and some which are frightening – now especially the grinding noise of thoughts about the School. There is some ringing sound in my ears. If I listen to it inside my left ear I can hear it clearly. If I keep writing like this, I repeat each word within myself. Do I know this ‘I’ which has taken such deep roots in me? Who is it that is anxious to know?
“There is only the Supreme Lord,” said Jitendra Baba yesterday. We finished the Ganesha puja and went with Major to Baba’s home in the afternoon at 4:00 pm in his car. “Have you ever worshipped Ganesha? Have you ever experienced Him?” I asked Baba. “Who is sitting by my side and holding my hand if not Ganesha?” replied Baba to me as I sat next to him. Suddenly, he started asking questions about the School. “I want to see your School. I like spending time with little kids,” he said. Major said that he would bring him to my home at 11 am on Wednesday to go there.
Baba speaks of ‘total surrender’. He says that the Supreme Lord takes care of everything, of all the things he needs. He speaks as if God is closely watching whatever is happening to him. “Why bring the Supreme Lord into this?” was Major’s question.
UG’s state is also a state of total surrender; but in it there is no division between him and the Supreme Lord. UG doesn’t know what’s happening and to whom it’s happening. The division arises at times in UG’s consciousness. But then it disappears instantly. So, he has no need for the Supreme Lord. There is no person who weighs the good and the bad of what happens. That’s the difference between UG’s state and the state of surrender that Baba deliberately tries to stay in. “What business do I have to do with a God who is merciful only to those who pray to him? What about people like me who don’t care about him?” asks UG mockingly. There is no ‘selectivity’ there. UG’s ‘decision’ is God’s command.
* * *
What is this writing for? Deliberately composing, collecting and selecting from past notes – for whose sake? Who will be the loser if I don’t write? I will be. This is for my pleasure. What pleasure? For how long? Only as long as I write. There is a possibility that tomorrow someone might read and enjoy this if I at least write down the gossip about UG. But who is really interested in this empty talk?
* * *
September 21, 1999, Tuesday
“What do you want?” UG asks very pointedly. “What do you want?” is his mantra. To those who ask him, “What should I do, UG?” this is his counter question. True, what indeed do I want? What I am searching for? This is a more potent question than the question “Srinivasarao, what are you searching for?” in Sri Sri’s Mahaprasthanam. There are ways of obtaining whatever I want. There are also problems in those ways, depending on what I want, because many other people may want the same thing. When we want ‘happiness’, that narrow path becomes crowded. In that overcrowded place, whether you can get what you want depends on your relative strength. UG makes it quite simple. However, if you look into it in depth, what you want is not just one thing; you want a hundred thousand things. If those hundred thousand desires have to be satisfied, then there is a risk of there being a hundred thousand paths. Which way should I go? Just as the student who doesn’t know which way to go [the allusion is to a poem in Sri Sri’s Mahaprasthanam] – ‘to see Norma Shearer in Roxy or….’ -- I have to put on a sorry face. Unless we are clear beforehand that we want such and such, just that one thing and only that, we will be in unnecessary trouble. We will go hither and thither, wasting our time, energy and the prime of our God-given life (vayassu).
What do I want – what one thing do I want; not what hundred thousand desires do I have? While yearning, why does my mind always swing incessantly like a clock pendulum, saying, “That..., and I want that?” What is the one desire about which I can say “There is no question of having another; I want just this one thing,” and stay put without wavering back and forth? Where is that flame in me which remains burning like a wildfire and is never extinguished? Have I been yearning for just that one thing for the past fifty years? I am unable to answer this one question after all these years. This moment I desire one thing, the next moment I desire another. I have been multiplying desires like this all these fifty years. I can’t remember my first three or four years. But when I review these fifty years I have lived, I feel that it’s not a life that I have lived. I must feel that way. After all, will I ever be able to get an answer to the question, “What do I want?” I wrote a poem 25 years ago, “What do you want…?” Has that question been pursuing me ever since, like the Brahma’s missile? If just that one question completely possessed me, would I still be able to breathe, to keep my bearings or even think another thought? Would it let me?
* * *
How does the desire for a particular thing arise in the first place? Is it only because someone pounded it into my head that I should desire it? If the desire is not satisfied, what’s lost now? And for whom is the loss? If I find an answer to the first question, so many other questions pop up. My logic poses all these questions, but where is there room for them if my whole existence is occupied by the first question? Where is the scope for another question? That indeed, is true, too. So, first, let there be an answer to that first question, namely, “What do I want?” Whatever answer I get, it seems like that’s not it. I want something else. But I don’t know what. When will I know? How long will it take for me to know? What else should I learn first in order to know that? I must be clear about what I want. What’s the use of seeking someone else’s help? Can I clear up the problem? Why can’t I? Is it really clear to me that all other questions are secondary compared to this?
* * *
September 22, 1999, Wednesday
Julie called yesterday. Apparently, when UG recently talked to Guha, Lakshmi and her, he had asked her to convey a stern warning to me: “Tell Chandrasekhar that I won’t come to India until he gets all the videos, audios and photos into some shape.” How should I preserve them and yet make them accessible to everyone? Suppose I give them to some institution? Will they use them properly? I must consult the people at the Indian Institute of Culture and find out. Can they preserve them all and make them accessible to the public? Can they find the money to do it? All these are questions. Or else, if something is not done about them, they will all perish. Then they will be utterly useless.
* * *
My mind is agitated. Even when I get out of bed in the morning, it’s not quiet. The source of all this anxiety is to think that I am doing everything: all the things that need to be done in the future, those things that have already been done and the things I am now doing. All these things will go on; will they stop just because I die? Some people around me may face some problems at first. Then things will go an as usual.
* * *
“Mahesh should have no mission at all...”
September 20th was Mahesh’s birthday. I called yesterday morning and wished him a belated “happy birthday.” Apparently, on that day, Tanuja asked UG, “Today is Mahesh’s birthday. What should his mission be from now on?” UG replied at once without hesitation, “He should have no mission at all. He should be free.” Mahesh has completed 50 years. He told me he is 51. So many of us have gotten into our fifties. Even Suguna will be 50 next January. The questions have not gone yet: I have only accumulated more of them and I am making no attempt to get rid of them. I must first distance myself from the illusory notions that ‘I’ am doing, that things happen because of me and that I am the agent and the enjoyer. Burdens only get heavier because of such notions. It’s some sort of false living. What does really happen because of me? If I had a free bowel movement for the last couple of days, is it due to my greatness or to the effect of the fenugreek seeds I have eaten to induce it?
* * *
Tips for filmmaking...
Twenty years ago, Mahesh Bhatt was called a ‘flop director’ in the movie world. Ten years later, everyone in Bollywood started thinking of him as ‘Machine Bhatt’. His unhindered industriousness, his discipline of working 18 hours a day without rest, paved the way to his success. It was perhaps around 1979-80 that UG had taken Mahesh along with all of us to the Telugu movie, Maro Charitra, in Alankar Theater. Balachander directed the movie in which Kamal Hasan acted. I think UG gave Mahesh many tips by means of discussing that movie. “The ending is very depressing,” said UG, referring to the tragic ending of that movie. “You have to play on the sentiments of the people. If the audience leaves the theater with a feeling of wanting to watch the movie a second time, your film is a success. Don’t bother about the reviews that the film critics write in the newspapers and magazines. It’s the riksha-walah or the taxi-walah who decides the fate of your film,” he told Mahesh that day. He still says the same thing. Now he is asking Mahesh to quit directing movies. He says he has done enough of that; he must start new things.
* * *
September 23, 1999, Thursday
We got the news that the power would be cut off everyday at 6 pm starting yesterday. We won’t have power for two hours. Even now, the lights are dim because the voltage is very low. If there is no power, we will have trouble getting drinking water. Why did they have to impose this power-cut even when there is so much rainfall throughout the country? Only the government knows. It may be an election strategy. To make it convenient to pump more water to their farmer friends, they cut off the power here in the cities. That’s how it is in this country. They can’t do anything right. That’s why UG speaks about this country so disapprovingly. There is no awareness in people. They only indulge themselves in the karma doctrine, sighing to themselves, “This is my karma; it has been fated this way.” They won’t pick up their energy and fight for their rights or toss their useless government onto a garbage heap.
What can I do as an individual? Do I have any power? What’s the use of thinking unnecessarily about these things except to ruin my mental peace? Do I have the confidence and perseverance to achieve what I want? Am I so important? In the first place, what is the source of all these problems? Is the power-cut cutting me up or am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? What’s the big loss if I don’t have the power for a few hours? Am I being cowardly or wise to think in this manner? Why should I spoil my mental peace by worrying about things which are beyond my control? But, in the first place, why should I hanker for having a mind always content and happy? What does it matter if it’s in turmoil or if it radiates beauty? What do I care?
The clock just struck seven. The power is out. I brought in the emergency lamp from the kitchen and am continuing my writing. Where then is the problem now?
* * *
Yesterday, I discussed video technology at length with Salini and Kumar, about how it would be possible to transcribe the video tapes onto CDs. If I can transcribe an hour’s tape onto a CD first, I can think about the rest later. I should get them to do it before the end of this month.
* * *
59. UG’s words from What am I Saying
September 27, 1999, Monday
Suguna Krishnamurti arrived around 5:30 in the afternoon in her new car, an Omni, along with two of her friends. We all watched the video, What am I Saying? for an hour. UG may not know what he said in it, but his words are echoing in my head.
1. “We are all just puppets in the hands of nature. We don’t have any free will. Where is that freewill you are talking about?” he says.
2. In another place he says, “Man is the molder of his own future and architect of his own destiny.” How are the above two statements compatible with each other? That’s something to think about. But just as I was thinking about this, another bomb exploded.
3. “Through thinking you cannot understand a thing.” My God! Then what does it mean to think? What does UG mean when he says that we cannot achieve anything, understand anything, through thinking? Oh God, explain what you mean! Again, thinking is the only rescue. I am reminded of Tyagaraja’s song, “Yochanaa, kamala lochanaa....”
4. UG says again, explaining himself: “When I say ‘thinking’, I don’t mean the instinctive thinking like that of the animals which do some kind of thinking. The dog knows its master; it knows its way home. I don’t mean that kind of thinking....” That means he is not talking about the things we do without thinking. They too arise out of some kind of thinking. If UG is not talking about that sort of thinking in us, then what sort of thinking does he mean?
5. “...any thinking other than that used for the survival of the organism. Thinking is only to change yourself from something to something other than what you are. Animals are not interested in changing themselves. This [interest] is put in us by the society or culture. That is responsible for thinking. Why do you want to change? To achieve something.” The attempt to change myself, to get something, to achieve something, and the urges in me, the ‘I’ – depend upon the society and culture I am born in and raised in. Thoughts arise on the basis of how I have been brainwashed.
6. “I don’t have any thoughts other than those of my basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. I don’t have any other questions. How come you all seem to have so many questions?” he asks. So many questions – Is there rebirth? What is the meaning of life? Does God exist? Are there other worlds? – Whence do all these questions arise? UG says he has no such questions. What happened to them?
7. “All these questions are born out of the answers you already have; you have the answers. They all have given you the answers. Why are you still asking the same questions? Obviously you are not satisfied with them [those answers]. If I give you any answer, you add this to the list you already have.” True. There are heaps of answers within me. Why don’t they satisfy me? How do I know about the bliss, the spiritual, the stillness of mind, the samadhi, the peace, etc. that I desire? These are things that have been drummed into my ears. Who is the ‘I’ that knows of them? Is my existence separate from that information?
8. “You’re really not interested in my answer. You want to continue through that question; because the end of the question is the end of you as you know yourself and experience yourself,” says UG profoundly. “You cannot be interested in this. It will burn you. Don’t play with this,” he threatens. He does not ‘threaten’, he warns. But the ending is not in my hands. These thoughts won’t end. These fears won’t go away. This distress, this anxiety won’t subside. That’s why UG says, “We are all puppets.” We are all puppets in the hands of Fate. What to do? What should we do?
9. “Nothing. Live in misery and die in misery. That’s the lot of humans,” says UG and remains silent.
* * *
September 29, 1999, Wednesday
It rained all last night; also the night before. It rained until this morning. There are only ten days left till the end of the month of Bhadrapada; after that come the Dasara holidays and the month of Aswayuja. There will be rains then, too. It has been raining for the last five or six days, since the full moon day. Before that, the sun was unexpectedly extremely hot.
UG has not called here yet or talked to anyone. No news of him.
My stomach is upset. There is ringing in my head. Or is it that my mind has dropped down into my stomach? This thing called the mind, it’s there if you think it is there; and it’s not there, if you think it is not. Only the freedom to think it doesn’t exist remains. If I think “it’s not there” will it disappear? If I hide money in my wallet and think that I don’t have a single penny, will the money disappear? It’s easy to say that it’s all in one’s thinking, as if thinking and not thinking are both in our hands. “To me” [‘mama’ in Sanskrit] asks the priest to say to yourself. If I say that to myself, would all that [merit] transfer to my account? For instance, how come in the matter of the School, no matter how many times I have tried to think “not to me” [viz., “I am not that”], my worry keeps getting worse? But it has indeed become evident through all these forty years that telling myself as strongly as I can “This body and this mind are not mine. I am not concerned with them,” is useless.
But there is a subtlety here. We don’t know at what level that thinking must proceed. There is a strong hookup somewhere in the head. That must be severed. The ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are strong anchors. As long as that anchor is there, no matter how much and how long you meditate telling yourself, “I am not this body; I am not this mind; I am not these thoughts,” those anchors won’t go away. When such a bond afflicts us, what good it is to say, “I must practice, I must practice?”
I wrote before in these notebooks that the notion of “I am” is the source of all problems. But what’s the use of this writing? How have I benefited from the mere knowing of it? To think that “I am not” is not in my hands. There is no use even in thinking that “I am” or that “I am not.” Then what to do? Why should I think that I must do something? “I can’t do it; it’s not in my hands” -- as soon as the mechanism in my head grasps it, this hookup is broken. If that wheel which goes around incessantly stops, all the worlds will stand still. I don’t know if it will ever stop. But it’s not in my power to stop it. It must go on turning like this. I must writhe in pain writing the same thing over and over again, thinking the same thing over and over again; tasting my own blood with relish; jumping with joy for being happy and patting my own back, thinking this is all due to my own greatness, my own intellect; and being disappointed, at the same time, when things I desire are not accomplished, crying my heart out when whatever I have is lost and grieving “Is there no savior who can save me, no one dear to me? Of God, won’t you come?” till I die, till I breathe my last breath, till this body becomes a lifeless log. There is no other way. Not just UG, even if UG’s ‘grandmother’ came down, she can’t be of any help. No one can help you. No one can give you a helping hand from any corner. Why do you keep pining for help? Why do you hope that the gates of heaven will open for you? Only your wasted effort will remain. Even if you teach yourself some sense like this, would your hopes and your yearning stop? They must go on as usual. The machine keeps turning in your head. And as long as the mill turns, the flour must fall from it. No one can stop it. Then why are you sad? What for? What does it matter if UG talks to you or not? Can UG stop this mill from turning? Then where would you be? And where would UG be?
* * *
Q: UG, do you have any questions?
UG: I only want to ask you, “Why are you here? What do you want? What can I do for you?”
Q: How many people have you put on the path of righteousness?
UG: I have succeeded in taking away quite a lot of them from the path of righteousness and put them where they belonged. Whatever potential is there will surface because of being exposed to me. It’s not spiritual. That doesn’t exist. If you don’t have any [potential], it’s too bad.
* * *
“Dog is God…."
One day, Bhaskara Rao felt dizzy while he was walking in the middle of the road in the hot sun. He found some support that he could lean against. Standing in the sun, he saw in front of him a dog in a pitiable condition. It was still carrying on. Bhaskara Rao thought, “What’s the difference between it and me?” Immediately, his dizziness was gone. His body recouped its energy. “From now on it is not ‘Dog’, it’s ‘God’. It’s my aim of life to attain its state,” thought Bhaskara Rao. Major told me this.
* * *
The title Sunakopanishad [‘Dog Upanishad’] is flashing in my head. Going on around it are the bits of all the things UG has said about dogs -- the superiority of dogs, their spiritual superiority, how they run around wagging their tails. A beautiful essay is in the making. If I could put it down on paper.... But why? What would I gain? Questioning myself like this makes me impotent. My enthusiasm fizzles out. Why do I need to gain anything? Isn’t it a pleasure just to write? No. Everyone must read, appreciate and congratulate me. It must be published. I must be happy looking at it in print. These are all facts. Why hide them? Why this pretense that I don’t have any such hopes?
* * *
Ever since he was little, UG’s independent nature has been so fierce that the consideration of what others might say has disappeared from his dictionary. He always acted according to what he thought was right and never looked for the approval of others or even the approval of the people whom he liked. “Those who know my nature won’t think anything [bad] about my actions. What do I care about what the people who don’t know me think?” he used to argue with his grandmother. UG’s logic is, “If there is any truth in what they say [about me], I must correct myself; it’s useless to be offended by it. If what they say is not true, then there is no need at all to be offended.”
* * *
Talking about Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, UG said, “What did that man in a loin cloth do for me? He did nothing. He made me also a person with a loin cloth. That’s all.” Then he jabs at Ramana: “Why did he keep his mother with him? Why did he build a tomb for her when she died, calling it, ‘Matrubhuteswara Alayam’? Why did he arrange for worship there? Why did he give traditional answers to the questions of those who came to see him?”
* * *
Malladi Krishnamurti said, “It must be due to our merit from our past lives that has made us not be born as UG’s blood relatives. That’s our good fortune.” That’s the comment he made after hearing about all the torment and agony UG had caused his grandmother.
* * *
Dr. N.R.R. Rao came from Mysore, along with his wife, on March 8, 1999. UG had just arrived on the previous day. Rao was happy to meet UG. “Why is there this misery in us, UG?” Dr. Rao asked. “The body is not interested in anything that you are interested in. That’s why there is misery. You are a ‘squatter’ there. The body is throwing you out constantly. All that is put in there by the culture is being thrown out as ‘oral shit’. All that is put in by you as food is thrown out as ‘anal shit’,” said UG.
“From the beginning, the body is throwing you out,” UG repeated. “You don’t want to leave it gracefully; that’s the misery,” he added. Dr. Rao again asked, “You say that there is tremendous peace in the organism. How come we are not aware of that peace?”
“You can never know that peace. The body is very peaceful. You are the squatter creating war and violence there,” said UG.
* * *
Q: UG, you talk of the ‘energy’ in you. Doesn’t that energy flow into us?
UG: Where is the room for it? You’re already full. And there is no need to flow at all.
Mohan heard this and started repeating the Upanishadic mantra “purna madah purna midam....”
* * *
B. S. Shekhawat asked UG, “Why do we come to you?”
UG: You think I have answers to all your questions. But you have the answers. Do you have any questions which nobody has ever asked? All your questions have already been answered. You have the answers. Yet you come and ask for answers.
* * *
“Burn all your maps and break all the compasses. Just drive to reach your destination,” said UG once to Paul Sempé.
* * *
Mahesh: UG, why don’t you ask me to stop drinking?
UG: You are already in conflict. I don’t want to add more to it.
* * *
Q: What is your solution to the problem of poverty in India?
UG: Kill all the Brahmins and wipe out the middle class. That’s the only solution.
* * *
Once, Dr. Raghavendra Swami said to UG, “I have decided to drop all pleasure movement from now on, UG.”
UG: You will be a dead corpse if you do. Drop it. Don’t announce it. You don’t know what will happen afterwards.
* * *
On April 4, 1999, we were in the Farm House. Mahesh called from Bombay. UG answered the phone. Mahesh asked how I was behaving. “He is nasty with me and with Suguna. He is writing nasty things about me,” UG complained to him. Mahesh then wanted to talk to me. “Babu, I’m glad you are coming into your own. You finish him with his own ammunition,” said Mahesh.
“Not possible, Mahesh, it kills us. It boomerangs.”
* * *
“Selectivity and censorship are the only two motives for thinking. There is no thinking if those two are absent,” said UG. “‘I want’, ‘I don’t want’, -- the whole thinking is about that. ‘I don’t want to think’ is also thinking.”
* * *
October 19, 1999 (Sunday)
The eleventh day of the month; Vaikuntha Ekadasi. Vaishnavas believe that today the doors of Vaikuntha [paradise] would be wide open and thus on this day they can be certain of being united with Vishnu. Man is not so concerned about how much he should achieve in this life as he is worried about what will happen to him after he dies. How many religions are there in the world and how many faiths! Some believe that they will go to heaven when they die; some that they will be in the proximity of God; others that they will be in the company of Vishnu; and still others that they will have a seat by Jehovah’s side. Thus each culture has its own faith. There are varieties of theories such as that there is rebirth after death; that there is no other life; or that only those who are released can be free from rebirth. We have so many discussions, books, lectures, teachings and faiths. Some spend their whole lives concerning themselves with life after death.
Yesterday, I, Venkata Chalapati, Chandrasekhar, Gopinath, his friend Anil and Major – we all gathered in the Farm House. Chalapati arranged for the meeting in the Farm House unexpectedly and invited me. I accepted. When he and I went on his scooter, the others had already assembled in the verandah. We talked about forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s disease for a while. Each narrated incidents about his own forgetfulness.
Apparently, Anil came once before to our home to meet UG. He knows me; but I don’t remember. I didn’t try hard to remember. I can’t even remember names let alone faces. Unless I meet them again and again, I don’t retain their features in my memory. I can’t imagine what they look like. I have always been like that. My memory is weak. That’s why my head is no good for gathering information. Recently I have become even more forgetful. That’s why not many things go on in my mind; but what does go on is enough to give me trouble.
Then, the things we discussed yesterday: are enlightened people and gurus on the same level -- particularly, four or five people like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi, UG and J. Krishnamurti? Did J. Krishnamurti drink wine to numb bodily pain? Did Sri Ramakrishna drink bhang? Did Bhagawan undergo surgery without anesthesia? Major said that although UG sneers at these people, probably none of them ever actually used alcohol or drugs. Gopinath claimed that Sri Ramakrishna did not reach the topmost state in his spiritual endeavor. Jiddu did not ‘pass through’ death, he said.
Gopinath thought that UG is in a higher state than all the others; he said that unless a person ‘passes through’ death he is not liberated. My contention is that the actions and words of such an individual do not conform to any known rules. UG contradicts himself and acts contrary to his own assertions. He appears as if he has been working hard to save us from our own imagination and ideas. If we specify that a ‘free man’ acts in such and such a way, then how can we claim that he is completely free? That’s why persons like UG don’t fit into any framework. They are prepared to die at any moment. How could we measure the maturity of such people based on their words and actions? Our measuring rods are false to begin with. Can we use them to measure those who constantly move in the realm of truth? What can we do except stand in their presence with folded hands?
UG incessantly tries to shatter the images that his words create in us. “I am barking like a dog. You create meaning for those sounds and live in the illusion that I am saying something and that you understand it,” he says. This too is not real, because you understand it. Such interactions are of no use except to get along in the practical world.
UG’s first principle is, “Whatever you think it is, it isn’t that,” and “To form your own fundamental question,” is the first step toward the ultimate state.
Chandrasekhar said that our question must be “How to form a fundamental question?” “Who cares about a fundamental question?” was Gopinath’s counter question. That question must formulate itself, I said. It took UG forty nine years. Our existence must be dissolved in that question. It must grab us; we cannot grab it. Then what should we do? We must always stand in the fixed resolve that nothing can be done. That’s all. Not that we must not do anything. We cannot refrain from doing anything. “Nahi kascit kshanamapi jatu tishthat yakarmakrt” – proclaims the Gita. My head is trying to quote an authority again. That’s how it measures. It quotes and shows lines, statements and proofs, and carries on. The gates of the paradise of Vaikuntha are open.
* * *
December 23, 1999 (Thursday) -- Full Moon Day of the month of Margasira
I returned home from School slightly before noon. Suguna was standing by the gate outside the house. “The Canara Bank manager phoned. Apparently some relatives of Valentine came and have been looking for our address. I gave them directions to our house. They may be here in about ten minutes,” she said. I wondered who those relatives could be and fell into a reverie. In a little while, a white Contessa car stopped in front of the gate. A young couple of about 25 years of age got out of the car. There was another person with them besides the driver. Even with the address it’s hard to find our house. I couldn’t believe that this foreign couple could find our house without the address, without even knowing our names, but merely by asking around with the help of UG’s and Valentine’s names.
Apparently they first enquired in Alliance Française; there they only got information about J. Krishnamurti. They were given the vague clue that UG Krishnamurti had lived somewhere near the Tata Silk Farm. They started their search there. They then went to the Kumaran School in Tata Silk Farm. The Principal there didn’t know of Valentine’s School. Some people there vaguely knew that UG Krishnamurti used to live on K.R. Road. So they sent a teacher with them to enquire at Asha Kiran Apartments. They began asking around there. Finally, somebody seems to have suggested that they should enquire at the Canara Bank. They went there and asked about UG and Valentine. After they were given our address there, it took them another couple of hours to get to our house. If they hadn’t been able to find us, how disappointed they would have been! They came to Bangalore for just this purpose. Apparently, they have come to Bangalore to see the people who run Valentine’s School, to meet and talk with the family who had taken care of Valentine in her final years, and provide any help they can for the School.
Then who are this couple? The young man is the son of Valentine’s elder sister Adrienne’s daughter; that is, he is Adrienne’s grandson. His name is Michael and his wife’s name is Agnes. They were married recently. They have come to India on their honeymoon. And they will return to their country on January 6. I can’t understand why they have arranged their travel on Gulf Air. When there are so many good airlines, why did they pick Gulf Air? “Because it’s cheap,” Michael said. He said they will travel by train from Frankfurt to Switzerland.
The couple was pleasant to watch. Apparently, when he was little, his grandmother Adrienne used to tell him stories of Valentine’s adventures. Michael related his story: “The first time I saw UG and Valentine together, I was five-years-old. Before every summer, Valentine used to spend a few days with her sisters. The first few times UG accompanied her. Then only Valentine went and stayed in Lugano and Moulouse for a month each summer. It was UG who encouraged Valentine to spend some time each year with her two sisters. By herself, she was reluctant to have relationships with members of her family.
Michael also knew of the merging of Valentine’s ashes in Kaveri Sangamam after her death. Apparently his grandmother or mother appreciated the act very much. It’s their custom to bury all the dead members of a family in the same place. “But Valentine had a peculiar personality. She separated herself from the family early in her life and lived a life of adventure. It’s appropriate that the remains of such a lady also got merged in a river, contrary to her tradition,” Michael’s grandmother said, according to Michael. He expressed his wish to see that place. I told the driver to stop the car on the Western Bank of the river on their way to Mysore and show them the stream of the river. Last evening around 6 pm, they both left for Mysore.
* * *
The six hours they spent with us passed like six minutes while we dug up our memories of Valentine and talking about her, watching videos and looking at photos. Michael and Agnes knew that we are running Valentine School. But the weather yesterday was terrible. Ever since the morning, the sky was overcast and by the afternoon the sky became cloudy and it rained. It was cold and messy. Yet we went there, and they learned all the information about Valentine very patiently and looked at everything with great interest. They took pictures of each and every classroom in the school. They saw the album of photos of the fancy dress competition. They watched the video on Valentine, the video album of their family. They said they would definitely give help to the School.
Their coming and seeing the school, discussing everything, thanking me and Suguna wholeheartedly for taking care of Valentine in her last days, their mingling with us nicely, dining with us, enquiring about UG and his philosophy, learning about it and discussing it with us – all these delighted us very much. Michael gave me two thousand rupees saying, “Please take this as our donation for the present.”
* * *
Valentine’s sister Rose has a daughter called Maria. She married a much older man who was her violin teacher; he was totally blind. He is dead now and she lives in Paris. Michael and Agnes live in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Valentine had an adventurous spirit. Michael told us that many in the de Kerven family had that trait of adventurousness. One of the ancestors in the de Kerven family apparently surveyed the whole of Greenland. A mountain in Greenland is named after him. Another ancestor, a lady, was also adventurous like Valentine. She became renowned for riding on a horse from Argentina in South America to Washington, DC.
Michael had heard, even as a child, of Valentine’s crossing the Sahara Desert on a motorcycle. Agnes is still surprised that he has mentioned that incident when he first met Agnes in a hotel. She and I both appreciated his love and affection for Valentine. Suguna and I were pleased that after so many years, some relatives of Valentine, although they are not her own immediate family, traveled such a great distance to come here, eat with us and talk to us about everything. I don’t know to what extent they will provide help to the School, the School that remains as a memorial to Valentine, but it’s amazing that they came all this distance and showed interest in meeting us.
* * *
December 29, 1999, Wednesday
UG’s harangues have started again. He has sent me a copy of his e-mail to Bob. Besides criticizing India, he complains in the letter that I and my behavior are extraordinary and are preventing him from coming to India, and that I am tormenting Suguna.
I know my behavior and my mind very well. My mind has been struggling to move away from UG and step out of UG’s way as much as possible. Nowadays, I am not relishing anything connected with UG. I don’t feel like listening to UG’s tapes. I don’t feel like talking about him. I don’t feel like listening to what he says. I don’t feel like seeing him, spending time with him or inviting him to India. When I hear that he is coming to India, trains run in my heart! I worry, thinking, “Why in the world is he coming?” I have been going around picking up things to do as if they are the most important things in the world and not bothering about UG’s affairs at all. Moreover, I have been reconciling myself by telling myself that “UG has turned me into such a person through his behavior.” I have been justifying my behavior by telling myself that it’s only due to his constant efforts to keep me away that this desire to move away from him has taken root in me. When I read that e-mail yesterday, my mind has become troubled.
After I went with Suguna to the hospital and the doctors described Raghavendra Rao’s condition to us and told us that it’s impossible for him to live, or rather to keep him alive, my mind cowered even more. Some unknown fears. Although I was reassuring Aruna and Venkat and offering them words of advice, I was agitated. What’s going to happen? What things are going to end at the end of the year, at the end of the millennium? I hear the sound of someone roaring, “This is not the end; this is the beginning!”
I know why UG has been ranting and raving about me. Although it’s clear to me that he knows what’s happening in my heart of hearts, my mind wouldn’t admit it. My tricky mind uses ploys to find fault with UG and say, “You are the cause of all this misfortune; all this is happening because of you.” UG instantly knows all my thoughts, plans and ploys. I am also aware that he knows instantly that my mind is striving constantly to become distant from him and to escape from my life as it relates to him, and that it is trying to forget itself in vain through these various meaningless activities.
This is not a game. UG is none other than Siva incarnate. There are no boundaries there. Although all that happens in my head is not reflected there, UG vibrates in accordance with them. No matter how he vibrates, his vibrations reflect my behavior and personality. I can’t control the turmoil generated by my mind. “What should I do now?” “What could I do that would please UG?” “What sort of behavior would please UG?” -- it’s useless to think in these lines. The real ‘I’ in myself, the ‘I’ which nested itself in me and the ‘I’ which arrogates to itself constantly that “I am doing it” -- that ‘I’ is the real problem. UG’s message is not a divine symbol; it’s a direct command. UG knows all my attempts to prolong this separation, to escape from him by staying away, to hide behind walls and backs and steal away like a thief and avoid being detected. As soon as I think “Finally, it’s safe here, let me rest,” the ubiquitous UG taps on my shoulder. Where can I escape? I say, “Anyatha saranam nasti, tvameva saranam mama,” [“You are my only refuge; I have no other rescue.”] and I plot to escape by taking refuge.
A verse from this morning’s Venkateswara Suprabhatam [“Good morning to Venkateswara”] is ringing in my ears and mouth: “Ajnanina maya dosha nyaseshan vihitan hare/ kshamasvatvam kshamasvatvam seshasaila sikhamane,” I am reciting in myself. “I have committed many wrongs in my ignorance, O, Lord, please forgive me. Be merciful to me. Don’t burn me like this. Don’t let me desire anything but you. Even by tormenting me, cleansing me or tearing me into pieces, hold me within you. This life of mine is granted by you. It must be completely dedicated to you. Please make sure that it’s not wasted. Everything is in your hands. Save me from the evil thoughts of rejecting you and moving away from your presence, and turn me toward you. Please listen to my prayer at least at the end of this millennium. You can burn me, torture me or torment me; but save me from this goblet of poison. This is my prayer, Lord,” I feel like blurting out like this in front of UG’s photo.