Sadhana – importance of one-pointed attention and infinite patience

Talk by Sri M at Shirdi, on 16 June 2000.

There are some Beings, whom you can’t categorize into any bracket. You can’t say definitively that they belong here or there, that they are of this kind or that. They are of all kinds, to put it frankly. They can come from anywhere and go off anywhere. You can’t pinpoint what they will teach at a given time. You cannot imitate their actions. They are a particular type of spiritual Beings, who arrive completely perfect; their only purpose is to set an example, and to teach people.

They are people who didn’t have to do any Sadhana, at least in thepresent life of theirs. People like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa were also born perfect yet they had to go through a certain period of Sadhana. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa did twelve years of intense Sadhana. Similarly, ShirdiSai Baba spoke of different kinds of Sadhana he had undergone in his younger days.

Their Sadhana had only one intention—set an example to others. It is not meant for their own improvement. These Beings have set an example to others—to watch, and learn how they should lead their own lives. This is meant for those who are spiritually inclined, who want to achieve spiritual fulfillment.

For instance, ShirdiSai Baba used to say he practiced Guru Yoga—a form wherein there is complete attention on the teacher. Baba’s Guru was a man named Venkusha, who lived in the Nizam’s provinces, the present-day Andhra Pradesh, along its borders with Maharashtra. Venkusha was a Zamindar. In his youth, Shirdi Baba lived with Venkusha and all the Sadhana he did was to sit and look at his Guru, wide-eyed all day. Baba mentions that he looked and looked and looked. He also listened carefully to what was taught to others.

Venkusha was a great devotee of TirupatiBalaji. He was completely dedicated to his Sadhana and it remained the most important thing to him. It is said, one day he was sitting and looking out of his house, when he saw a young woman going to fetch water.He was attracted to her, a moment of lust, in spite of having decided not to have any such thoughts.So, he went into the house, took out a skewer and blinded himself, saying, “These eyes, that don’t listen to me, have no right to exist!” As you can see, he was a sadhaka of very strict caliber!

Sai Baba used to just watch his master, his Guru, all the time. One day, Venkusha said: “You don’t have to look anymore. Whatever I have, has been given to you.” It is said Sai Baba went into a Samadhi immediately. When he finally came back from his Samadhi, he realized he is no different from Venkusha, his Guru.

He also refers to other practices he had done as part of his Sadhana and the trials he went through when his Guru tested him. Many of what he has said in this regard is cryptic; it is difficult to pinpoint what he meant to say.

One of the stories goes thus: One day, he and three of his co-disciples, were traveling through the forest, when their Guru, Venkusha, approached them suddenly and said, “Now, I am going to test you all. I am going to tie all of you upside-down in the well.”The three co-disciples ran away saying, “What kind of discipline is this? We don’t want it!” But Sai Baba alone said, “Okay, if that is what you want to do, I am ready for it.” He surrendered to his Guru. He was hung with his head down, barely touching the water. If he had put his tongue out, he would have almost touched the water, but he could not do it. He was left like that for three days.Every now and then, his Guru used to come and ask him “Are you ready?” and he would say, “Yes!” The Guru would then ask, “Are you feeling uncomfortable?” Baba would reply, “No!” Guru would ask, “Do you want to drink any water?” Baba would say, “No!” Baba used to call this ‘Sirisha Yoga.’ It is a peculiar word. There is no such term known in Yoga.

So, having faced all these trials and tribulations, Shirdi Baba was ready to put up with anything that was asked of him. The result was that his mind had become inseparably one with the mind of his Guru. So, there was no further Sadhana that was required of him.

Now, this is the ‘Guru Yoga’ that many teachers have taught. The teaching of Sai Baba of Shirdi was entirely about it. The most important Sadhana is to worship the Guru, look at him, meditate upon him, and follow his teachings. The most important teaching amongst them was to consider all other living beings as part of oneself, because, if one doesn’t do that, then all the worship is of no use.

Many people used to come to Shirdi Baba, bringing him money and other gifts. Some would fall at his feet, yet he was someone who saw through and through because he knew who is who. There were some who used to sit quietly in a corner, doing their own japa and meditation. They would hardly go to see Baba, yet he would often approach them, tap them on their head and say, “Ah! You are doing your work now. This is what Sai is here for. This is very important, not just singing praises and doing what we want.”

Our Sadhana is very important and this is what Baba wants. Only then is worshipping the Guru of any use. If we are close to someone whom we consider a great teacher, like Sai Baba of Shirdi, and worship him for, say for thirty-five or forty years, and we remain the same—selfish, angry, petty as ever before—then all that Sadhana comes to a naught!

On Shirdi Sai Baba’s Samadhi, you will find two words written: ‘Saburi’ and ‘Shraddha’. Saburi means complete, infinite patience, especially in Sadhana, where one has to go through so many trials and tribulations.Sometimes, people take up Sadhanaenthusiastically, but the moment some trouble befalls them, they leave their Sadhana.They run off because they think that either the problem has come because of their Sadhana, or, they think, “First, let me put this right, then I will go back to my meditation.” Of course, going back never happens because sorrows, troubles and tribulations are part of our lives. Right from when we are born into this life, see how we come out of the womb in itself a big trauma. In fact, psychiatrists say that many of the mental diseases people have now are because of the trauma of birth. Since we have to come out of a tiny place, the body is almost strangled and pushed out. From that time till the end – till we go- it is the same. So, one can never expect to be hundred percent free of material problemsin this world. Impossible! No one has lived like that.

So, none of this should discourage us from this Sadhana. Often, it so happens, that to keep us on the path of Sadhana, God and great teachers help us achieve certain things materially. However, at some point, for a true ‘sadhak’ testsare given to find out what he considers more important – that or this. If one goes through those tests and passes them, then one moves a step forward in spiritual life.We may also pray to the teacher, or pray to God and say, “Please save me from these problems.” We may be saved- there is no denying that.But, the spirit of Saburi means, “This has been given to me. Let me bear with it. It has been given unto me by Him. No matter what happens, I will stick to my Sadhana. I’ll stick to my meditation.” This is Saburi—patience. Also, have patience in the face of criticism. Even when greatly agitated, try to be patient. Things will take care of themselves. We can never exactly say when the grace of God comes, so we should not be impatient. Of course, we should be eager to get it.

There is this story of a man who looked like a mad man.He was going around a tree, singing the praises of God, when Narada, who always travels all over the world, saw this man.The man saw Narada and said, “Oh! You are coming from LordNarayana. Please tell me, when will I achieve the darshan of Lord Narayana?”Narada said, “It will take about a hundred births for you to get a darshan of Lord Narayana! ”Immediately, the man clapped his hands and said, “Wonderful! I am going to get the darshan of Lord Narayana in about a hundred births, which is not possible for one to get even after thousand births!”He went mad with ecstasy crying, ”Only hundred births!” That is Saburi for you – patience in action! This comes only with humility. But there are people who practice Sadhana for one year, or one month, and say, “Ah! I have done intense Sadhana, now I must see God!”But we have to work for it with patience. Sri Ramakrishna himself did twelve years of intense Sadhana.

‘Shraddha’ means absolute one-pointed attention. It has been translated as ‘Faith’ also. It actually means absolute, one-pointed attention; complete attention on your goal.

If both Shraddha and Saburi are there, then there is no problem in Sadhana definitely. What happens often is, when there is Shraddha, there is not enough Saburi and, sometimes, Saburi may be there, but no Shraddha. Both are necessary. Absolute, one–pointed total attention is required in our path, along with infinite patience.

While we practice our Sadhana, we may get some powers (Siddhis), or see lights or hear sounds- do not think God is going to come!There are people who have many powers, but have not yet had the darshan of the Lord. It is also possible, there may be someone who shows no capacity for the so-called ‘Siddhis’, but might have achieved the darshan of the Lord.

What about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? Did he exhibit any siddhis? No, there was only his God and himself! We are not denying Siddhis here. Siddhis are some powers that a person acquires during the Sadhana. But with a great saint like Sai Baba, some things may take place spontaneously. He never said, “I will do this for you, I will do that for you.”

Whenever people went to him with any problem, he only said, “Allah Malik Hai!” or “Fakir bhalakarega!”By ‘Fakir’ here, he did not mean himself, he was referring to the Lord. But in Baba’s presence, certain things happened by themselves, spontaneously. He never demonstrated anything to show that he was somebody great in order to attract people – never! It just happened.

So, sometimes, there may be a seemingly mad man, looking absolutely crazy, sitting in one corner, in the bus stand or in the street, who may not exhibit any powers, but could easily be an advanced, spiritual person. What I am implying is that one need not have any extra, fancy trimmings.Many of the Avadhootas – like Gajanan Maharaj of Maharashtra, were all great saints.

So, Shraddha and Saburi – both are necessary in the path of Sadhana.

Shirdi Sai Baba always gave away vibhuti from the dhuni. So, we’ll all go afterwards to the dhuniand take some vibhuti.

About The Satsang Foundation

The Satsang Foundation, founded by Sri M, is a meeting point for spiritual seekers of all persuasions. The Satsang Foundation also extends a helping hand to the less privileged of society.