- by Raj Venkata Ponnaluri, Florida, USA

In a world spattered by billions of people, thousands of religions and millions of faiths, a single philosophical tradition striking cord with several of these entities may sound improbable. Not anymore. People of various creeds, hailing from numerous walks of life have discovered an order in which the gospel of countless doctrines is written; not in stone, but in thoughts, tears, breaths, words, and sounds of individuals who reposed their confidence in Sai Baba of Shirdi. So much has been made out of His contribution to both living and nonliving creatures that it sought the respect of many learned beings surrounding the globe.

The corner stones of Baba's celestial edifice include simplicity, equality, humility, and generosity. A master at work with each of these characteristics, He ensures that not a being is left off the mainstream of spiritual growth and material necessity. Never bragging about His divine powers, He continues to stay simple and not publicize his holiness. To Him, there is not an iota of difference between poverty and prosperity; a pauper and a mogul have equal access to Him and His house. Despite being an immortal, He remains humble to the core and acknowledges miniature virtues in all lives that tread moral path. An indigent Himself, He rains a plenty on the sick and the needy showering happiness, joy and comfort; in the process, His benevolence generates internal peace and exudes external confidence. The four attributes cited earlier decorate the fabric of Baba's philosophy. Each quality is engrained in every activity He ever performed and every statement He ever uttered. There is an absolute correlation between what he preached and practiced. Few are world leaders from all domains who can stake claim to such brilliance in human behavior and conduct. Baba ranks supreme in every attribute conceivable. His life is a breathing testament to such a recognition.

While the four traits described previously help understand the elements of Baba's inner self, the four pillars supporting the safe haven of spiritual growth and material well-being include love, compassion, devotion and faith. Baba is an ardent believer in spreading the message of love by practicing it; He encouraged an expression of unanimity not just with fellow humans of similar denomination, but with all natural beings - both living and non-living. Compassion for the unattended, sick and the deprived is at the top of Baba's agenda; He struggles every moment to sow seeds of tenderness towards all nature and in all beings. One noticeable feature in all of Baba's ideology is an emphasis on devotion. He is convinced of the efficacy and the power of prayer in relieving physical and mental distress. He advised all individuals to exercise caution and never be swept away by fanaticism. He knew the pitfalls of living in a deep hole under the guise of devotion with little or no action. His bottom-line take on the matter is that devotion leads to focus, which in turn leads to identification of goals and objectives in life; both spiritual and material. Upon recognizing the needs and priorities, a focused being seeks with determination and finds what it has been looking for, thus accomplishing what it sought in the first place. Baba emphasized the need to rely on a strong teacher to attain the ultimate goal of self-realization. Such a mechanism calls for absolute and complete faith in an educator who will provide guidance for spiritual advancement. The vital signs of a progressing spirit include dedication and commitment toward the chosen path of self-enhancement. Baba advocated thoroughness in life's learning process and urged against unusually high reliance on external help.

So, what exactly is ‘philosophy?' It is the study, application, and practice of the fundamental principles of wisdom. Rajagopalachari, one of India's foremost leaders during the pre- and post-independence era, explained in a prelude to Adi Sankara's ‘Bhajagovindam,' "When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the mind, it becomes wisdom. When wisdom is integrated with life and issues out in action, it becomes devotion. The way of devotion is not different from the way of knowledge." Needless to say, Baba embodies what Rajaji attempted to summarize in a few words on a separate topic. Sai Baba used each of his skills to educate the spiritually-ignorant on the need to acquire knowledge of the divine for enhancing their intellects, which He believed would produce wisdom, which in turn would lead to devotion. Of course, pure devotion results in nothing but pure joy and feeling of oneness with the Supreme Self. Baba was extremely successful in building strong bonds between individuals of different faiths and beliefs. His philosophy is to make everyone aware of potential pitfalls in a venture; He never imposed restrictions on what ought to be done. He believed that failures most definitely offer superior lessons than triumphs do.

Stated above are, what may be considered to be, principles embracing Sai Baba's philosophy. Attempting to borrow examples from His life in an effort to substantiate each idea may be futile, given the innumerable number of lives He touches and countless instances thereof. It suffices to say that Baba's legend breathes life into every known aspect to nature. His philosophy is written in every benevolent act, gratifying expression, tearful joy, and unspoken speech. He brings with Him a millennium's worth of experience to swim through a shark infested ocean of life. He empowers individuals who surrender themselves to the Supreme Self and lets them expand their circles of influence. It may not be long before the rims of differentiation fade away and all beings are one with the Supreme Self. There may not be a creature to sing the hymn of Baba; but then that is His purpose - to let everyone into the Supreme Kingdom and walk into wilderness in search of civilizations yet discovered. How much more lucky can we all get? Not much, for He is us and His philosophy is us.


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