1994The Message of Sacrifice
Good and bad always co-exist. Without pain one cannot have the enjoyment of pleasure. Without darkness one cannot feel the value of the light. Man should learn to enjoy the dualities of good and bad, pain and pleasure, in moderation. Food consumed in excess caused indigestion. If it is inadequate it results in starvation. Man can even have ego in a limited measure. If the balances his feelings he can have peace of happiness.
Kasyapa and his two wives, Dithi and Adithi, were the parents of demons and demigods (Asuras and Devas). Indra, the king of the Asuras, as it was common practice in those days for one king to invade the kingdom of another to acquire additional territory. Mahabali vanquished Indra in the war and proceeded to annex the territory of Indra and occupied his capital Amaravathi. Kasyapa had gone to the Himalayas to do penance. Lamenting over the defeat grief. When she was wailing, Kasyapa came to her. Instantly, he was able to recognise the cause of her grief by divine insight which he had acquired as a result of his penance. He consoled his wife Adithi saying that nothing happens in the world without God's will and people should go on doing their duties. He asked her to pray to Lord Narayana and taught her a Vratha (ritual) to be followed strictly, known as Payovratha. It has to be observed from the twelfth day of the bright half of Karthika (Suklapaksha Dwaadasi). She observed the vratha as prescribed. A devotee's since prayer will never go to waste. Since she carried out the vratha with a pious heart, Narayana appeared before her and informed her that He would Himself take birth in her womb and help Indra. Adithi was very happy and true to the word of the Lord, she gave birth to a son of uncommon effulgence on the twelfth day of the bright half of the month of Bhadrapada. That child was "Vamanamurthi". Even as a child He demonstrated His Diving power by doing marvellous deeds.
Mahabali was performing an Aswametha Yagna (horse sacrifice). He had previously performed a hundred such yagnas. He declared that he would give anything that anyone sought from him during this yagna. Vamana came to the Yagasala. As he was approaching them, the sages assembled there perceived the extraordinarily effulgent form of the young lad. Mahabali went forth to receive the Brahmin boy with all traditional honours and gave him an imminent seat befitting the status of a holy person. Bali told him: "Master, it is my good fortune that you have chosen to honour me with your presence. Whatever you desire, I am here ready to fulfil the same". Vamana smiled and said: "You need not give me anything very great. It is enough if you give me that extent of land covered by three foot-steps of mine.
On hearing him, Bali's preceptor, Sukracharya, who could have vision of the future, told Bali that the one who had come to seek a gift from Bali was not an ordinary Brahmin boy but Lord Narayana himself who had assumed this form. He advised Bali not to promise the lad anything. But Bali was a kind who would never go back on his word and told his Guru that he would never break his promise. He was determined to give Vamana whatever he wanted since breaking one's word was a sin and he had to keep his pledge. Sukracharya insisted that he should not fulfil the demand of Vamana as He had come to deprive Bali of all his possessions. He said Vamana was not really in need of anything as everything was in his hands.
Bali, however, determined to honour the word given to Vamana, begged pardon of his Guru for disregarding his advice. Earlier, while Bali was embarking on the war with Indra, he had prostrated at the feet of his preceptor, Sukracharya, and on his advice he performed the Vishwajit Yagna from which he secured very powerful weapons. It was only because of Sukracharya's help that he was able to conquer Indra. On this occasion, Bali was not prepared to heed the advice of the same preceptor. Sukracharya cursed Bali, saying: "As you have not heeded your Guru's words you will be reduced to ashes." Bali was firm and replied: "I am prepared to face any consequence, but will not go back on my word."
So saying, he told Vamana to measure the three feet of land as desired by him. All attempts of Sukracharya to dissuade Bali from offering the land desired by Vamana proved futile. Bali told his Guru: "Prana (life) and Maana (honour) are the two eyes of a person. Even if life goes, honour should be protected. Granting that the person that has come now is the Lord Himself, I should be the most fortunate one as the Lord, who gives everything to mankind, is seeking something from me".
Bali was an example of supreme sacrifice. He sacrificed all his possessions and himself too to God. Bali said: "The hand of the Lord, which gives Abhaya (graceful benediction) to all, has been stretched to take something from me. The Lord's hand is below while my hand is above. This must be the fruit of my penance in several births. I am prepared for anything". This was the spirit of Bali. Bali was also a very good ruler who was much concerned about the welfare of his subjects. He was the son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlada. They were both devotees of Narayana. Is there any one who has perished having believed in God? There might be people who have perished without belief in God…
Prahlada was happy and appreciated the good fortune his grandson Bali when Narayana himself sought a gift from him. He blessed Bali that he had kept up the noble tradition and name of the family. It is only by sacrifice that one can attain immortality and not by any other means.
Sukracharya’s anger was growing because of his selfish motive that he should continue to be the preceptor of the Asuras, He did not want Bali to give the gift sought by Vamana as he was sure that the last vestige of power of the Asuras would be destroyed by vamana. Earlier when a fierce battle was raging between Indra and Bali, Indra used his Bajrayudha (thunderbolt) against Bali. The latter fainted. There was one Asura, Namuchi by name. The Bajrayudha would not be effective against him. An ethereal voice said, "Namuchi is very powerful. As he has Brahama’s boon, nothing will affect him. Only a weapon that is neither wet nor dry will be effective". Indra looked at the ocean and recognised that the foam was neither wet nor dry. He applied the foam to his weapon and attacked Namuchi. Namuchi fell down.
Indra is hailed as the chief of the gods. In the Purushasooktha, it is said that out of the face of the cosmic purusha emerged Indra. Indra is one who is the Lord of the senses. In man, the mind is the Lord of the senses. In man, the mind is the master of the senses. No one can estimate the power of the mind. Brahmastra and Vajrayudha are not more powerful that Ekagratha or concentration which is mightier than any weapon. For this, sense control is essential. There is always a battle raging in the body between vice and virtue and only the one that has Ekagratha can come out victorious.
Bali is the symbol of sacrifice (Thaga). He controlled everything by his spirit of sacrifice. The Gayathri Mantra begins with the utterance: "Bhur-Bhuvas-Swaha." These represent the three words which are in the body itself. "Bhu" represents Prakrithi or Earth, which is the physical body. Mind is Bhuvarloka. Prajnana is Suvarloka. Body represents materialisation as it is made up of the five physical elements. The mind is ‘Vibration’ and ‘Prajnana’ is ‘Radiation’. If you enquire into their inner significance, all the three are in your body itself. The battle between Bali and Indra represents the mind battling to control the senses. When the mind is controlled one attains Divinity. This is the spiritual state. Bali performed many sacrifices to attain this state. "Bali’ means tax. You pay taxed to the Government for electricity, water, drainage etc. What tax did Bali pay? He gave all his possessions, body, mind and soul, to the Lord. The Lord’s first foot covered this world and the second foot covered the other world. How huge the Lord’s feet should have been to cover the whole world? How can such a huge foot be kept on Bali’s head for the third step of land? The inner significance of this action is that Lord entered Bali’s body, mind and soul. Once the ego or body consciousness is surrendered, there is no bar t one’s realisation. It is the body consciousness that stands in the way and makes your forget God. Vamana opened Bali’s eyes to help him realise the Divine. The imprisoned man had to be freed. Bali offered his body, mind and soul to the Lord.
Kerala is a sacred land where Bali performed this action of supreme surrender to the Lord. He had good relationship with his people and they loved him in turn, and had faith in him. That is why Kerala is still fertile and prosperous. The Lord goes about freely in this land. Bali sought a boon from the Lord that he should visit Kerala every year, on this day of Sravana asterism in the month of Sravan. This day is celebrated as Onam by Keralites. They have been following this faithfully since ancient times. This day is considered important for the people of Kerala. They prepare many dishes and eat together on this holy day.
We should appreciate the spirit of sacrifice of the devotees from Kerala who sacrifice the comforts of the homes and the company of their near and dear ones and make a pilgrimage to this place to celebrate this festival in the immediate presence and company of Swami. They do not mind the inconveniences and lack of comforts here. They reflect the spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by Mahabali even today. It is my blessing that you should enjoy this and should never give up your Love of God. God’s Love is permanent while all other love among human beings is only transient and temporary.
Because this faith is imprinted strongly in the minds of Keralites you are making your trip to this place leaving your own native place with your unstinted devotion to Swami. It is my wish that other States should emulate your example. People may brand Kerala was dominated by Communist doctrine but I am sure the people of Kerala are filled with pure devotion to God, whatever may be their political affiliations.
Bhagavan sang the two Bhajans songs - "Bhajana Binaa" and "Prema Muditha", at the conclusion of His discourse. The entire gathering joined in the singing with devotion.(From Bhagawan’s Discourse in the Poornachandra Auditorium on 16-9-94)