Friday, September 5, 2008

Chapter 42

I also slowly started to really understand various members of Bala’s family. I often spoke to the Guru, “Babaji” on the phone, and marveled at his poetic ability and his analytical mind that found instant solutions to most problems. The path he follows is a very simple one. He believes that complete devotion and unquestioning faith in Bala will surely solve all problems in Life. Bala reaches out to Her family through “Babaji”. He merely follows her instructions and transforms Her ideas and thoughts into beautiful songs and Divine words of Grace.

Babaji writes about the excessive use of rituals in worship and questions the necessity to travel to many temples, when all deities are just the same and all paths necessarily lead to Bala. Vedanta espouses the same truth. God is everywhere and within you. Learn to treat everyone with the same attention and care you give yourself: then you attain unity with the One and Only Brahman.

There is no difference between the “Brahman” or truth espoused in the Vedas and that of Bala.

Love should be, and must be, the overriding principle in our interaction with people. Babaji addresses various social problems and conflicts that might arise in this vast ocean of Samsara (life) and tries to rectify them through the songs that Bala commands him to write.

Most importantly, he exhorts his followers to pray for the welfare of others and indeed for the nation’s welfare through participation in group prayers instead of visiting temples and praying selfishly only for the welfare and prosperity of one’s immediate family circle.

Babaji’s path is a different one. It is a path that has not been previously traveled by most wise saints and sages of the past. In fact, he does not see the necessity to escape into an ashram or become a sanyasi. Instead, he advocates householders to solve problems through love, compassion, understanding and communication. He emphasizes the fact that merely following rituals prescribed by our Vedas and scriptures and reciting a lot of Sanskrit prayers may never really help one achieve peace of mind, unless the attitude of a person is altered for the better. One might be called extremely “religious” because he goes to many temples, performs yagams or homams. However, if this person remains selfish and unhelpful to society at large, then in no way can he either achieve peace of mind or lead a fulfilling life.

Babaji also takes a sharp dig at many people who have used religion in a commercial manner to earn fame , money and a wide following. He is totally averse to dependence on astrologers who claim to predict one’s future or Swamijis who declare they can solve problems for a fee. Although several hugely, famous personalities have used religion to channel money for useful purposes, Babaji’s answer is: “ Let business leaders who are philanthrophists build schools and hospitals. Why should Holy men accept money from various people and build mega hospitals and education centres in their names? Religious personalities should just focus on spreading the values of the faith and should not become money-minded businessmen”.

For Babaji, writing songs and remaining an intermediary between Bala and the rest of the world is his vocation in Life. He does this job admirably, and his songs relate the values and proper conduct we should all uphold in order to become exemplary citizens.

He sincerely believes that singing or reciting Bala’s songs is enough to find panacea for most problems.

Babaji claims that Bala’s songs are more powerful than the mantras and slokas prescribed in our scriptures. While many learned Gurus and Swamijis are no doubt experts in various fields of our Shastras and Vedas and are able to memorise and recite difficult passages from them, explain them lucidly, or prescribe rituals as remedies for various problems in Life, Babaji’s path is completely the opposite. He has not delved into the past to find answers for the present. He has not handed over to us information that is at best second-hand (since our scriptures and Vedas have been handed down through generations and are not really original thought by a new sage or philosopher).
Babaji, on the other hand has directly given his flock some original ways of dealing with difficult situations.

He writes songs for specific problems. For ill health, Bala has dictated a song; for gaining learning skills and education, there is yet another poem, and so on: for getting married; begetting healthy children; to reduce debt; to prevent anxieties… the list is endless.

Babaji claims that all these songs are like powerful weapons. “I have given people the choice to use these songs to remedy their problems. I am unlike the money-minded yogis and gurus you see, who keep certain mantras and Sidhis just to themselves and claim to help people solve their problems for a hefty fee. These people are merely seeking fame and fortune while trying to increase their powers through well- guarded and secret mantras . I do not claim to own the songs that Bala makes me write. Instead, I freely hand them out to people by way of Deekshai, with the only caveat that they should use these songs for the benefit and welfare of other people”.

Babaji insists that we should pray sincerely for other people instead of focusing narrowly only on our self- interests. He says: “When you pray for others, your problems will automatically be solved by Bala. Don’t always think about the end results. Just accept the final outcome as Bala’s gift to you. That is what constitutes sincere prayer”.

Babaji has published numerous songs, books and wise sayings, all of which contain extremely lofty and significant ideas couched in a very simple and elegant poetic style. Written mostly in Tamil, these songs have been set to music and sung sensitively by Bala’s hand-picked singers, Sudha Anand and M. Madhu.

Babaji explains, “While most Sanskrit slokas in praise of deities are just that, i.e. a litany of tributes to a particular God, Bala’s songs are different. They reach out and change a human being from the inside. They point out mistakes people commonly make and ask them to change their bad habits. By doing this and forcing people to think and mend their ways, an individual, family, community, village or even an entire nation can be transformed”.

Listening to Bala’s songs, understanding them and implementing the good values in day to day life is what devotion to Bala is all about. Many are the people who come to Bala carrying their load of problems. Some might find a solution. However, Bhakthi or faith in Bala involves increasing one’s tolerance to pain and trying not to view a problem or a bad situation as such.
Bala certainly improves a person’s self confidenc and mental strength so that while problems may never disappear, a person’s tolerance and endurance can increase. The “problem” dissolves in the “mind” of the affected individual and ceases to bother him any more!

The CDs, books and other publications are sold at the Peetam and are the only source of revenue for the Peetam, apart from contributions some devotees make for Anna Dhanam (food donation).
In fact, the major difference between Sri Bala Peetam and any other religious institution is the fact that no one is pressed to make a donation. There are no vows taken here as is usually the case at other temples whereby, after a successful result, either cash or donations in kind are “gifted” to the deity.

Sri Ezhilmani is quite strict about taking in money unnecessarily. ‘Bala is a “prestige girl”, he remarks very often. “She gets very annoyed if you bribe her!”

Bala is a child goddess that no one can comprehend easily. If you think you know her fully, you will discover many tests awaiting you! This is what I have learned in my limited years of experience.

Bala stamps out personal ego. You can never say you are very “close” to her. You just experience and get to know her over a long period of time until you are totally and inseparably one with her.

A lot of people may not be able to understand what I am writing. Perhaps a few can. It’s just important to state here that Bala will accept you just as you are if you love her wholeheartedly. Don’t worry about your shortcomings. They are irrelevant and will be dissolved in the love that you show her. When Bala truly “accepts” you, She will surely set you on the path to becoming a reformed person.

My whole world now revolved around Bala. In fact, I was totally dependent on this child Goddess to get through the next couple of months.

I was living all alone in my house and although I was initially quite scared , especially at night, I would think of Bala just before drifting off to sleep and ask her to protect me.
And she did.

One morning, around 2.30 a.m. , I heard a loud noise near the door leading to the terrace. I was particularly tired that night and instead of being alarmed, I merely turned over, said loudly “ Baala protect me, protect me” and went straight back to sleep!

The following morning, my grand- niece came to visit me. I love to play with children and spent an hour with this adorable child, entertaining her with games and stories.
After a while, the little child insisted on going out onto the terrace. I obliged, reluctantly because it was noon and the terrace flooring would be too hot for those tender feet.
However, even as I turned the knob on the door leading to the terrace, it fell away completely. A closer inspection revealed that someone had tampered with the lock.

It was quite clear that an attempt had been made to gain entry to my bedroom through the terrace door. However, the burglar perhaps took flight because I had shouted out to Bala.

I realized then, the importance of Sri Ezhilmani’s often quoted lines “Baala irruka Bayam Illai. Bayam Irrukkum Idathil Baala Illai”.

This means: Where Baala resides, there should be no fear. If there is fear, then Baala is not there anymore.

In other words, one should have complete belief and faith in Baala. This will automatically eradicate all fear. If you still are fearful of situations and events, this means you have not yet placed your full trust in HER. This injuction also means that one should accept outcomes with equanimity and avoid despondency .

These few lines have guided me in my life thus far. I have learned to place complete and unquestioning faith in Baala and She has stood beside me, protecting me at all times. She has also provided me with the mental strength to accept a lot of unpleasant situations in life. This was proved particularly true in the period leading up to the wedding.

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