March 20, 1997, Thursday
When I heard Suguna saying suddenly, “It seems that my chapter in UG’s life has come to a close,” I felt as if my feet were restrained and I stopped. I looked at her trying to figure out what she meant. “After Valentine’s death, I don’t seem to have any role to play in UG’s life. Moreover, my misery has been getting worse as your book gains popularity and my name is mentioned by everyone.” In a flash, I could understand the problem that has been bothering her. She abhors even to recall some of the incidents in my past life. She is pained by the past memories. “It all depends on what we think. If we don’t worry about them, it’ll be fine,” I said, not knowing what else to say. She didn’t reply. It was clear that my words had no effect on her.
As we continued our walk, my head was full of thoughts. How strange is this thinking! Ever since waking up from sleep till we drop off into sleep again, these wheels keep turning around the axle of thinking.
Once, Major remarked to UG, “Your answer to the question of rebirth sounds diplomatic.”
“How is that?” asked UG.
“You say, “There is rebirth for those who believe in it and there is no rebirth for those who don’t believe in it.” Isn’t that a diplomatic answer?” said Major. UG apparently smiled in reply and said, “Isn’t your existence, that you think you ‘are’, a belief?”
Major was silenced with that reply.
Everything depends on our thinking and believing. The priest when he recites the samkalpam [resolve to perform a religious observance] asks you to say ‘mama’ [mine]. That means that as soon as we say to ourselves ‘mama’, the merit of the observance will be added to our account.
When I think about it, it seems to me that Descartes, who is renowned as the father of modern Western philosophy, condensed his whole philosophy in the principle, “I think, therefore, I am,” with this idea in his mind.
“I exist because I think,” thought the French philosopher.
“If you don’t think?” is UG’s counter question.
That question didn’t occur to the Western philosophers. They concluded that man’s existence consists solely of thinking.
The vine of life grows around the prop of thinking. What’s there if we don’t think? If we think a little deeply, we will find how appropriate that question is.
How can we know what there is, or if there is anything?
When the thinking stops, what can be known and who will know?
The knowing mind
the world known
revealing God –
all are one!
soundlessness beyond sound,
The whole which fills everything!
We thus slip into Chalam’s poetry in Sudha.
* * *
Then how does this realization that “This is all just an illusion of mere thinking,” benefit us? How ridiculous it would be to tell a wailing mother who is holding a child in her lap who had just died prematurely and crying her heart out, “You’re merely thinking all this. There’s neither death nor birth?” So this knowledge is of no use for applying to everyday life. As a matter of fact, it’s of no use at all.
There is no release from this turmoil until the consciousness of ‘I am’ is burnt out. Every person experiences this agony at some level or stage, to some degree or other. How can Suguna escape it either? How can even UG save her?
* * *
UG’s friends – snakes and cobras
Two days ago, in the afternoon, we had a brand new guest in ‘Hridaya Vihar’. It was March 18, Tuesday. Around 2 pm, I was lying on the bed in my room, reading The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Aruna, Suguna and Sai were chatting. They had closed the front door to shelter us from the heat of the sun. After a little while, Sai, wanting to go out, opened the door. Outside, a four-foot-long snake turned around because of the sound of the door opening and quickly slid into the sewage canal. Aruna and Suguna said it was a big brown-colored snake as bulky as an elbow. By the time I came out hearing their shouts, the snake had already disappeared. Perhaps snakes come out of their holes in the earth because they cannot stand the excessive heat in them. There is a mound like an anthill next-door to our house. Perhaps this snake lives there.
A month ago, I and Sai had sighted in that same place a big cobra which lifted its hood and scared off two cats which lay in waiting for it. Last year, Major said he had seen a big snake around this house. Vedam Satyanarayana also said he had seen a cobra in the park near our house. Perhaps, it’s the same cobra which appeared to all these people. Archana too saw recently a fast-moving snake in the sewage canal across the street.
I felt like saying to the king of serpents, “UG has not come yet. Please come again when he comes. You can see him then.”
I am happy to note that UG’s close friends move about not only in the Farm House, but also in the environs of ‘Hridaya Vihar’.
* * *
March 28, 1997, Good Friday
Although it’s getting past Phalguna, the sun is not so hot yet. This morning, I felt like listening to a tape of Vedic chanting. The sounds of Rudram and Namakam were going on in tune. I was sitting in the living room in the sofa in front of UG’s photo and listening. Suguna had not gotten up from bed yet. It was still dark outside. You could hear no other noise except the sounds of the Vedic mantras. When the tape stopped, however, you could hear the drone sound of the snoring of the gentleman next-door. He has two wives. Each of the wives has a separate room. He has children with each wife. They all live together. Each day, the sound of his snoring comes from a different room.
My attention moved from the snoring sound back to the chanting of Namakam on the tape and was engaged in it. I was startled when I heard the mantram “Taskaranam pataye namonamah”. In this namakam intended to praise the Lord, the mantra praises the Lord with the phrase ‘salutations to the Lord of thieves’. We can explain to ourselves [the anomaly in this mantra] without the help of Vedantins unraveling its hidden meaning. They say you should interpret it as, “You who steals the hearts of your devotees.” UG in the photo in front of me broke into laughter. I didn’t want to hear the Namakam anymore. To praise the Lord by saying “You are a great Thief,” means, after all, that He is quite fond of thieves!
When you hear UG saying “Steal, but don’t get caught,” repeatedly, you would think that UG applauds those qualities which society condemns in people.
* * *
A Christian gentleman came to visit UG in Yercaud and cautioned him by saying, “There is a threat of burglaries in this place. You should secure things like the TV and VCR,” UG answered at once, “I am myself a thief. Or else, how am I able to accumulate things beyond my need?” The gentleman looked at him in shock: “You are a gentleman, a great man. That’s why you are able to make such statements,” he replied, not knowing what else to say.
“No, it isn’t that. I’m not so gentle. How do you think I got all these things? Did I get them from working hard? If there are burglars, I would tell them they are most welcome to take them,” said UG and turning to the servant Sanjivi who was listening to the conversation, he said in Tamil, “Your master is also a thief; or else, how did he get so much money?” Sanjivi was almost breathless with joy. The gentleman who had come to see UG took to the road and ran away in response to UG’s speech. I swear he never again came anywhere near that house.
* * *
It’s not just an idea of UG, but even in his dictionary there is no such as thing as ‘thievery’. Ever since he was very young, he has formed precise opinions on such traits which society has legislated against. “I want some money. I’ll take it if you won’t give it to me,” he would say to his grandfather. When his grandfather answered, “You’re so young, why do you need any money?” and kept his money in a drawer and locked it, UG didn’t find anything wrong in getting duplicate keys made and taking the money he wanted from the drawer. “If you had given it to me yourself, you could have saved me the trouble. If you call this ‘stealing’ that’s your problem,” he told his grandfather when he tried to preach him morals.
“Why should you accumulate things beyond your need? You not only steal the things that belong to everyone and hoard them, but on top of that, when someone then steals things because he needs them, you call him a ‘thief’ and torture him. What kind of morality is that? How is that fair?” UG asks.
Moreover, that same society preaches us to give to charity. “You drop a little something which you can’t use to someone and acquire the fame of a being a ‘philanthropist’. How crooked, these moral codes!” scorns UG.
* * *
Once, when UG was living with his family in Adyar, his wife realized that her diamond ring was missing. She suspected that the servant maid might have stolen it. The servant maid pleaded innocent. UG’s wife thought that this approach was not effective; so she reported the matter to the police. The police arrested that woman and tortured her trying to make her confess. They didn’t listen no matter how much she pleaded that she didn’t know anything about the ring. When he came home, UG learned of everything and got furious. He scolded his wife and forced her to go to the police and get the servant maid released. “If the police step into our house once more, I will have to throw you out, beware!” he warned her. She later found that ring, which she thought she had lost, somewhere in the house. UG then forced his wife to give that ring to the servant maid to the servant maid as a recompense for her suffering.
* * *
If one wants to understand from what depth UG is saying, “I don’t have anything which I can call ‘mine’,” a superficial acquaintance with Vedanta will not do. “Not just things, even these thoughts are not my own. They belong to everyone. Even this body is not mine,” he says. That’s why when some of his conversations were published as a book and on the copyright page he wrote, “My teaching, if that is the word you want to use, has no copyright. You are free to reproduce, distribute, interpret, misinterpret, distort, garble, and do what you like, even claim authorship, without my consent or the permission of anybody,” I think UG set a new precedent in publishing history.
All right. It’s OK if he stops at exonerating thievery and thieves. Even if he objects to our hoarding possessions saying that that it’s our greed and avarice that are responsible for causing such circumstances in thieves’ lives, we reconcile ourselves by saying that such a statement only proves UG’s honesty. But when UG speaks about thievery as a major art form and claims that the mega robbers who are highly adept at that art should be given a permanent place in world history as wonderful individuals, we cannot but suspect his artistic taste.
When I notice that the same UG who spurns hero-worship of him says, “If I have to keep anyone’s photo in my room, it will only be Al Capone’s,” and thus pays great respect to an American mobster, I get furious. Why? Such ‘gentlemen’ are not scarce in India or abroad. Why does UG have such fascination for cheats like that? I don’t understand.
Steal, but don’t get caught....
Once, UG was walking with friends in Time Square in Manhattan, New York. Suddenly he felt that a hand was moving in his pants pocket. UG innocently looked at both his hands. And while he was still wondering, “When I have both my hands here, how could there be a third hand in my pocket?” the $95 in his coat pocket changed hands. UG’s friends, realizing the situation, shouted, “Thief, thief!” while the pickpocket triumphantly blended into the crowd -- all this happened in one moment. UG was impressed by the pickpocket’s dexterity. Even though UG hailed the fellow as he went through the crowd -- “I’m not going to do anything; come here,”-- he didn’t respond but continued to run away. UG was disappointed. He recalls this incident now and then, not because he lost money, but because he lost the golden opportunity of honoring an expert pickpocket artist by inviting him to a feast in a five-star hotel. “No amount of money will adequately reward the skill he showed in taking that money from my pocket,” UG still says in appreciation.
* * *
A bookshop in San Francisco carried UG’s book Mind is a Myth. The owner of the shop once complained that two books were most commonly stolen from his shop, “One is the Bible and the other is UG’s Mind is a Myth.” The Bible teaches, “Thou shall not steal,” and UG’s book teaches, “Steal, but don’t get caught.” That’s why they both disappeared so frequently.
* * *
The burglars should have taken everything...
In this context, I must relate an incident which had occurred when UG came to Bangalore the last time. We waited till the time when, on November 25, 1996, UG had left Bombay for Bangalore, to see if Major would arrive in Bangalore from Nellore [for receiving UG with his car]. But he had not. Because Major was not in town to receive UG, Gopal Chawla offered to bring his car to the airport and I tried to prevent him. I hired a taxi and went to the airport to meet UG. By the time I arrived, Gopal Chawla and Radhakishan Bajaj were already there, waiting in Gopal Chawla’s Maruti car to bring UG to our home. The plane landed exactly at 8 pm. As soon as UG walked through the gate, Gopal took his bag and walked toward his car.
(UG strongly objects to receiving any help from others. He hesitates when someone offers a car. In India, if he has to use anyone else’s car other than Major’s, with the exception of Sudha and Chandrasekhar’s car, he feels quite annoyed. Sometime ago in the past, when the engineer Srinivas said he would bring his car, I consented. We went to the station together in his car. That time, UG had come from Madras. He didn’t say anything in the car as we drove, but he scolded me after arriving home for using Srinivas’s car: “You couldn’t get a taxi? What would it matter if you had to spend a hundred rupees? What will you do with the money you saved? Why should Srinivas have brought his car to the station? Don’t you know that I don’t like such things? They may have a desire to do such services, but I don’t like at all to receive others’ help.”)
So, when he got to Gopal’s car, UG turned to me asked, “How did you come here?” I said I had come in a taxi. Furthermore, it was taxi run by Prakash, the son of Viswanath. “Then I will come in that,” UG said promptly. Gopal looked disappointed. What could I do? I tried to prevent him earlier. Major was present at the front gate of the house by the time we returned in the cars back to ‘Hridaya Vihar’. He heard that UG was coming, so he traveled on a bus the whole of the previous night to arrive in Bangalore by the morning.
After we finished with our greetings and coffees, UG said, “Let’s go to the Farm House.” We all left in two cars. Major had his cottage locked up for a week before then. (There was a risk of robbery in that area. Some time before, thieves had broken into the Farm House and stole the owners’ TV and other possessions. Since then, people didn’t dare to rent this house.) He had arranged for three or four young fellows to watch the house in his absence. But when we got to the Farm House there was no one there. We opened the gate and walked in. Major came up to the verandah and just as he was about to unlock the door, he hailed me. When we looked at the door, it was clear that someone had tried to break in. The outer lock was hanging loose. But the inside lock which also secured the door didn’t seem to be broken. The burglar seemed to have tried hard but had not succeeded in opening the door with some pry bar-like instrument. “You’re lucky, Major. The door did not open. Or else, they would have taken all your stuff,” I said to Major. Everything inside was intact.
Everyone gathered there by that time. UG came there asking, “What happened?” When he learned about what had happened, he examined the door and said in a disappointed voice, “The door wasn’t broken. I would have been happy if they took everything.” Major replied, “It’s OK if they had taken your things, but I would have lost mine too.” “Your things too. They should have taken them all. These thieves seem so inept. What good are they if they can’t even break doors and locks?” We couldn’t help laughing when we heard UG criticizing the inefficiency of the burglars.
“I only appreciate success in any effort. I never pity a loser. After all that trouble, if those guys had succeeded in their job, I would have congratulated them,” UG said. I thought that those remarks ought to be included in the principles of modern management and motivation.
* * *
March 31, 1997, Monday
In foregone days, everyone would know the news of UG’s arrival before I ever told them. Going always by his fixed schedule, he would come to Bangalore at the end of October or in November, go to Bombay or Mahabaleshwar and stay there for a few days, and then leave for Europe. UG’s friends would come and enquire about him as the ‘UG season’ neared. He never came to India except in those months. After Valentine passed away, UG’s schedule became erratic. Now, it’s impossible to guess when he will come and when he will leave. Even UG doesn’t know when and where he will go. When he was here last December as usual, he asked me to write down his travel plans for 1997: all of January in Bangalore, second week of February in Australia, and so on. I was suspicious even while I was writing as to whether these trips would actually happen as he had planned. Before the ink on the paper had dried, his plans were turned around completely. On January 1, he flew directly to London. What happened to Australia and New Zealand? Only disappointment remained for the friends there who had been waiting for him.
People ask me from so many far off places, “When is UG coming?” When I reply, “I don’t know,” they ask “At least tell us where he is now. What’s his phone number?” “Don’t give my phone number to anyone. If you give my phone number as before to everyone, I won’t even tell you anymore,” says UG angrily. When people phone me spending so much money from different countries anxious to know UG’s whereabouts, I don’t like to tell them, “I don’t know where he is or any of those details, please don’t ask me,” as if I don’t care. Observing my uneasiness, UG says, “Why should you feel bothered. If you feel uneasy about hurting their feelings, you place the blame on me. Tell them I forbade you.”
Obeying UG’s command, I have been saying this already to many people. I have also been writing letters to that effect as well. But some people’s letters pain my heart sometimes. Some read UG’s book or translation or watch an interview with UG on TV and write to me in amazement asking whether such a wonderful person is actually roaming the earth in flesh and blood. They don’t know whom to write to track down UG, so they write to the publishers. And when they don’t get any reply, they writhe in pain. Then they run into some friend somewhere who asks them to write to me. How many are such unknown friends who pour out their hearts to me! It’s not fair not to reveal UG’s whereabouts even to such people.
But then, could all those who want to know UG’s whereabouts get to meet UG easily? No, it’s doubtful. I remember the story of a couple from Barcelona. They wanted to meet UG after they had read the Spanish translation of UG’s first book, Mystique. When they both arrived in New York, they were told that UG had gone to San Francisco. Then they went to San Francisco straight away. By that time, UG had already left for India via Hong Kong. The disappointed couple returned to Barcelona. After some time, being persistent, they came to India in search of UG. They were confident that UG would be in India this time. They obtained my telephone number in Bangalore through some friends and called me from Bombay asking where UG was. By that time UG had left for Europe. I told them that he would be in Gstaad and gave them his phone number and address there.
Finally, that summer they were able to catch up with UG in Gstaad. When I heard the story of this couple having to travel all over the globe finally to meet UG in the nearby country of Switzerland, I was reminded of Kalyani’s words. She used to say that seeing or meeting UG does not depend on our will. “Only those whom the ‘tricky Kittappa’ [the nickname she gave to UG] wants to see can come. They can only come when he wants them to come. He pushes a button and then they come to him rushing. If he thinks he has had enough of them, he pushes another button. Then they leave right away, not even knowing why they feel they must go,” she would say to me, acting it out.
UG, however, now seems to be going to great lengths in his efforts to escape from the people who come to see him. The last time he was in Bangalore, he prohibited people from coming even to ‘Hridaya Vihar’ to see him. He kept at bay even those grey-haired elderly people who normally come everyday to see him, including Bhaskara Rao, Vedantam Satyanarayana and Mohan. Radhakishan used to phone every morning and ask about UG’s schedule. He hoped that if he could not come as usual, he could at least find room in a car to go around the streets with UG. But UG has been mercilessly keeping everyone away. By this I am not saying that one couldn’t see him at all. “If you want to see me, come to the Farm House. If I am there, you can see me there. But you can’t see me here. I won’t make it easy for you to see me. I don’t need anyone. I don’t need to see anyone. If you so need me, that’s your karma; you come to the Farm House,” he says. It’s not that he doesn’t know how difficult it is to get to that forest traveling 20 kilometers from town.
When they finally go there, at times, UG would have already gone away to some other place, thus disappointing them.
Then there are the rules and restrictions that Major has to follow in the Farm House. He must not serve those who come there anything but water. He must not undertake any hospitality. He must not give drop of coffee even to Brahmachari. (UG knows that Brahmachari can’t survive without coffee!) He shouldn’t serve visitors any snacks.
“Could we get food packages and eat here?” asked Brahmachari once, hoping that UG would at least concede that.
“You can’t eat inside the premises of the Farm House. If you want, you can go outside the gate and eat there,” was UG’s amendment.
Exclaiming, “My God, what kind of punishment is this!” Brahmachari got out of there.
To get to that Farm House one must walk two kilometers from the Banneru Ghatta Highway. There is a city bus once every hour or two. Major used to take a few friends in his car and drop them off at the highway. UG said he couldn’t do that any more. “There must be no stink and stench of an ashram in this Farm House. The ashrams all thrive on the basis of food. If you stop the ‘food orgies’, they will all become deserted,” he says, equipping us with the first principle for the destruction of ashrams.
“Who will come to you, if you set up so many prohibitions and restrictions and build so many fences around you?” asks Major. UG smiled as if saying, “You will see!”
* * *
That day was December 1. UG and Major arrived at our place ‘Hridaya Vihar’ in the morning. I told UG about some friends who had left town for the Farm House to meet UG. “They would have reached the Farm House by now,” I said to him. UG decided to go back, and asked both of us (Suguna and I) to go with him. But what about our lunch? There was no time even to think. We both got ready hurriedly and got into Major’s car.
By the time we reached the Farm House we saw the Guntur group and Giridhar inside the compound. They were happy that UG had come back to the Farm House. In a few minutes Venkobarao appeared with his son. After some time Murthy got off from his motorcycle with his wife. By noon, a good-size crowd had gathered. How could we feed them some lunch? No one seemed to worry about this question. “How can I and UG eat without feeding all these people?” Major started grumbling. At last, Suguna ventured to suggest a way out. “UG, I’ll prepare upma for all these people,” she said. UG gave an unwilling nod to her offer. We jumped with joy. In less than an hour everyone was busy eating the tasty upma that Suguna had prepared, in whatever plate or leaf each one could find. Soon after that, Dr. Narasingarao and company arrived in two large cars. They said they had already had their lunch, fearing that UG would not allow any eating in the Farm House. Narasingarao couldn’t believe his eyes seeing all the people eating upma.
Realizing that his vow was foiled anyhow, UG asked coffee to be served to everyone!
That evening, after everyone had left, UG looked at Major and said, “You said no one will come this far. Look how many were here today.” Then Major raised and joined both his hands saying, “A big salute to you,” and walked away. Suguna and I couldn’t help laughing.
It was 9 in the morning on December 2. When we heard the music Major’s Maruti car makes when he drives it in reverse, I went to the gate. UG was just getting out of the car. “We must go to the bank today. All those chores must be finished,” he said.
“I’ll make some coffee, UG, we have fresh cream,” suggested Suguna. UG came inside and collapsed in the sofa saying “There’s still some cream from yesterday.” He got up a little while later as if he remembered something and quickly went upstairs. He has a room there which we had built for him. There is also a bathroom next to it. When UG said he was coming for the previous Telugu New Year’s Day, we got the room built in a hurry. We had just moved into ‘Hridaya Vihar’. UG stayed there one other time before we had moved in. At that time, UG, Major and my father stayed on the first floor, while I, Suguna and the rest of us were still in ‘Poorna Kuti’. This time, we were in ‘Hridaya Vihar’ for the whole week UG was in Bangalore. As we had the bathroom walls washed with color in a hurry, the colors were fading quickly.
As UG was coming down the stairs and saying, “The bathroom walls are weeping,” he slipped and collapsed with a thud on the steps. Luckily he held on to the railing with his hands and a serious injury was averted. When we were worried about what had happened, he said, “Nothing has happened, nothing has happened,” and went and sat in the car by the side of Major. I and Suguna sat in the back seats. After the car traveled a little distance, Suguna noticed his right little toe bleeding and a blood stain on his jacket and exclaimed, “Oh, my God, there is blood!” UG saw the blood and realized that his little toe was crushed when he had slipped on the steps and fallen. There were no medicines in the Major’s car. While Major was looking for a rag or a swab of cotton, UG said, “I don’t need anything,” and started applying the saliva that he had taken from his mouth on the area where he was hurt. No sooner he said, “There is no better medicine than spit to heal a wound,” than the bleeding had stopped. “Medicines destroy the natural immunities of the body. Look at the animals. When they are hurt, they lick their wounds. There’s no better antiseptic than one’s own saliva. But the saliva doesn’t have the ability to prevent bacteria in the mouth,” said UG.
Later, UG again said, “The arrogance that ‘life as a human being is hard to obtain,’ must go. Mankind is freed only when it reaches the level of animals. Then even sex will go. It’s natural to get the sexual urge with the season. Elephants copulate once in seven years. In some species of spiders, after the copulation, the female spider devours the male spider. Beasts don’t even have a problem with sex. But man is very arrogant about the status of his species. That’s why he is separated from his true nature and pines for liberation.”
* * *
I went to Vedam Satyanarayana’s home unexpectedly. Each time I open the gate of his house and go down the steps, I feel like I am entering a sage’s ashram. His house is near the Sankara Monastery. It belonged to the management of the monastery once upon a time. After Satyanarayana’s family ran into some money, they became its owners. There is a room next to the verandah. That’s Satyanarayana’s ‘observance’ room. You can only get into it through his bedroom. We sat in that room for a long time last night, chatting. He was done with his worship by the time I got there. Since he retired from working, he has acquired the habit of eating a small snack around 11 am. He only has coffee before his worship. He worships every day for two hours, starting at 9 am.
Satyanarayana and I both got acquainted with UG in December 1969. We were friends before. We used to meet in Brahmachari’s ‘Cave’ each evening and spend our time discussing spiritual matters. Satyanarayana has an M.Sc. in Statistics. He worked for the National Tuberculosis Institute and retired from the same institution in 1996. In all my thirty years of friendship with him, I haven’t noticed the slightest change in his lifestyle. He is still the same, and embraces the same beliefs as he did when I first met him. Between then and now, he has become a householder; still there is no change in his lifestyle. His appearance hasn’t changed throughout these years: He dresses just like he used to – wearing a dhoti and a shirt made of coarse cotton. He puts ashes on his forehead. Except when he goes to his office, he always has this appearance. Everyday he does his worship and studies the Vedas without fail. He performs these activities with great devotion. He is a man of virtue. Whenever I observe the faith and devotion he shows in performing his duties, I feel that an ancient sage like Gautama or Vasishta has been reincarnated in his person. He is thoroughly versed with not only our ancient myths and epics, but with the whole Vedic literature. That doesn’t mean he is a blind follower sold to ancient ways and orthodox customs. My considered opinion is that few people know as well as Satyanarayana how far modern science has progressed. It’s enough to look at the books in the shelf in his observance room to know how much interest he has in science.
He used to come with some friends and recite Vedas in UG’s presence. Except on those occasions, you would never hear his voice in UG’s presence. Whenever he came, he would sit in a corner and spend his time without talking much to anyone or indulging in debates, as much as he could help it. Whenever he came, it was UG who would bring up the subject of his horoscope and make him talk. I doubt if even ten percent of those astrologers who do business with signs outside their houses know as much astrology as he does. He has always been a loner who is not well known to anyone except to his close friends, of whom there are only one or two.
Those were the days when Major Dakshinamurti started visiting UG. He never could make sense of the Satyanarayana’s manner. He could not figure out how such an orthodox and religious-looking person could come to UG and listen to all his heresies. At that time, Major held the opinion that UG was an arch enemy of orthodox tradition. He could not understand how a person like Satyanarayana could reconcile UG’s words and teachings with his own beliefs and actions. One day, Major asked Satyanarayana that same question in front of everyone. “How could you carry on your worship and observances while still listening to whatever UG says?” Satyanarayana didn’t say a word in reply. Noticing his silence, Major satisfied himself thinking that perhaps he didn’t want to answer him.
The next day, while Major was cleaning his car, Satyanarayana opened the gate and came inside ‘Poorna Kuti’. “I didn’t feel like answering your question yesterday in front of everyone. If you want to hear, I would like to explain myself now,” he said to Major, “I was born in an orthodox family. As a child I grew up in the atmosphere of worshipping gods and study of the Veda. I inherited these practices. Although I had to work to make a living, I didn’t understand why I should discard the traditionally imposed duties. UG doesn’t care a damn for them. That’s the sort of level he has attained. I don’t see the wisdom in quitting them all just because he is condemning them. My worship of gods, my morning and evening worship and my reciting the Vedas also provide a pastime for me. If I quit doing them, what would I do with my free time? I would have to play cards in some club or gossip with some friends or pick up some other activity. Is it wrong to continue whatever I have been doing all these years instead of starting something new?”
Major did not say a word in reply.
April 5, 1997, Monday – at the Farm House
Major’s brother, Dr. Subba Rao came from Nellore to visit UG early this morning. He was picked up at the bus stop by Major. He had traveled from Nellore by bus the whole of the previous night. His son, Dr. Sridhav, had been ill before for several months. Many medical tests were done in Madras Apollo Hospital. The doctors could not diagnose the illness. Finally, Dr. Subba Rao prayed to UG. Sreedhav then turned the corner. The problem was discovered: a bit of his rib got stuck in his lungs, causing pain on the right side of his chest. Dr. Subba Rao told UG, “Only your grace has saved Sreedhav, nothing else.”
Major said, “It doesn’t work all the time and in all cases.”
Then UG immediately said, “Even in the scientific field it’s the same. Their theories don’t work all the time. Always, 50-50.”
“Do you say your methods are scientific?” asked Major.
“I don’t mean that. If there is a God, why would He be on your side just because you are praying to him? What kind of God is He then? He should be on side of one like me who doesn’t pray,” said UG.
* * *
April 7, 1997, Monday
Satyanarayana gets strange dreams. He believes in them. He says that the memories of the dreams fade out if he moves in his sleep or lies on his side. He has developed a routine of getting up from bed, no matter what time of the night it is, and noting down somewhere those dreams that he felt were wonderful.
It was January 6, 1980. That night he had a dream: UG was sitting on the floor. The setting was the house on West Anjaneya Temple Street. Subbanna Manja was with them. Satyanarayana was reading to UG from some book and discussing the material with him. The matter related to astrology. The scene was suddenly erased. As he was waking up, he felt that someone uttered loudly, “Mind is a Myth” and then said “2, 12, 19.” He thought the numbers were perhaps pages numbers of Mind is a Myth, got up from bed at once and wrote down the numbers and the current date on a piece of old calendar paper, the only thing that he could get hold of on the table.
Before 1980, even Mystique of Enlightenment had not yet taken shape, let alone Mind is a Myth. “How could I have such a dream? What about those page numbers?” he wondered and couldn’t figure out. But he preserved that piece of paper in some diary and then forgot about the whole thing. Fourteen years had passed. In the meantime, UG had visited Bangalore many times and Satyanarayana kept meeting him. Besides Mind is a Myth, many books, videotapes, radio and TV interviews, articles in newspapers and magazines and such have been published. For all these years, Satyanarayana did not remember this dream. One day, when he was turning the pages in old diaries, this piece of an old calendar suddenly dropped from one of them. When he read it, the 14-year-old dream flashed at once through his mind. Immediately he picked the copy of Mind is a Myth he had on his shelf. It looked just like the book he had been reading to UG in the dream. “Then what about the page numbers?” he wondered and looked up those pages.
* * *
“How could UG’s birth be ordinary?”
Till then, Satyanarayana had read pages from the book Mind is a Myth here and there, but he had never read the book carefully. On the second page, there was a description of the cover page. On page 12, there was a mention of UG birth. Satyanarayana saw the following sentences written by Terry Newland in his Introduction:
The subject of this work, Mr. Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti was born of middle-class Brahmin parents on the morning of July 9, 1918, in the village of Masulipatam, South India. As far as we know there were no peculiar events surrounding his birth, celestial or otherwise.
Satyanarayana believes that the birth of great realized men cannot be an ordinary occurrence. He does not just believe; he provides innumerable instances to support his claim. Everyone knows that when Jesus Christ was born 2,000 years ago, the bright star that had arisen in the sky in the east appeared and showed the way to the wise men. Similar was the birth of Gautama the Buddha. In the book, Transforming Light – The Living Heritage of World Religions, we read:
It is said that whenever a great divine cosmic force descended from the heavens in response to the wishes of the Gods, it made five important choices, viz., the time, the continent, the country, the family and the mother.... Buddhas are born in the continent of India. Buddhas were either Brahmin or Kshatriya family, whichever was high in public estimation.
Further on we read about Buddha’s mother as follows:
The remaining span of life of Buddha’s mother was ten months and seven days since the time of conception. A womb that has been occupied by a future Buddha is like shrine of a temple and can never be occupied or used again...
That’s why Tathagata’s mother, Maya, died seven days after the Buddha was born. Just seven days after UG was born, his mother, Bharati, too, had died. While placing her baby in her father’s care she said, “This boy is born with a purpose.” She was a devotee of Krishna. “These are historic truths. We can’t deny them,” said Satyanarayana.
According to esoteric beliefs, the Eastern direction where the sun rises is the fountainhead of profound wisdom. One look at UG’s natal chart reveals how all the planets are clustered on the Eastern side of the chart. UG’s birth place, Machilipatnam [same as Masulipatam], is a coastal town in Andhra Pradesh and is located in the Eastern most point of the South Indian Peninsula.
Drawing another parallel from Buddha’s life, Satyanarayana read the following lines from the book, Transforming Light --The Living Heritage Of World Religions:
Buddha knew (his teacher) Alarakalama’s system of thought and doctrine by heart. Buddha asked himself: “Does Alarakalama practice what he teaches? Has he attained the exalted state which he describes?” He practiced Alarakalama but did not find advancement. He left the teacher.”
“This is very much similar to UG dismissing JK’s authority and walking out on him,” observed Satyanarayana.
* * *
Then how is it possible that UG’s birth was an ordinary affair? On page 19-20 of that book, there is an account of how UG went with Valentine to hear J. Krishnamurti’s talk, how the question “Is there enlightenment?” which occupied his mind until then, had disappeared under the tree in Saanen and how that event triggered a series of changes that had ended in the ‘Calamity’ exactly on his 49th birthday. Tathagatha’s enlightenment too occurred on his birthday, under the bodhi tree.
That day, after Satyanarayana turned the pages in that book, the meaning of the dream he had had suddenly flashed in his mind. “I must publish to the world an account of the supernatural and wonderful truths connected with UG’s birth from the point of view of myths and epics and the predictions of astrology and astronomy” -- as soon as he thought this, a new enthusiasm arose in Satyanarayana. A determination and resolve unknown to him before had surged in him. It would not be an easy task. It would not be a joke to shake up old brains, stuck in old traditions with stale beliefs, frozen with the fanatical view that there couldn’t be anything in the world that they hadn’t already learned, puffed up by the great success that science has achieved. Satyanarayana’s life’s work started that day. He had already studied UG’s horoscope thoroughly years ago and recorded the wonderful yogas and auspicious movements of planets he had observed in it. Basing himself on UG’s horoscope, Satyanarayana began searching for supernatural truths with his inner eye. Then he gradually began to see new lights and visions before his mind’s eye.
* * *
It was UG’s 76th birthday on July 9, 1994. Strangely, UG’s birthday that year according to the Telugu almanac coincided with his birthday according to the Western calendar. The constellation that day was also Punarvasu, UG’s birth constellation. The day of the week was Tuesday. And UG was born on a Tuesday as well. All these coincidences seemed extraordinary. That year, 1994, was Bhava. Exactly on the New Year’s Day of that year my Telugu translation of UG Krishnamurti, A Life, was released in Hyderabad.
One day, I discussed this matter with Satyanarayana. We two talked for a long time that day. The things he talked about that day, the divine secrets that occurred to him in examining UG’s horoscope, the messages he had heard, the visions he had experienced – all seemed extraordinary to me. We talked in Satyanarayana’s room, in the presence of the great souls assembled there (in the pictures of them), about the many strange and wonderful things that have not been seen or heard before.
It’s hard to estimate how many people would appreciate hearing about the things that plunged us both into wonder and amazement. I wouldn’t even be surprised if people will laugh at them as cock-and-bull stories. However, those who accept astrology to some degree or other and agree that there is an intimate relationship between it and our myths and epics, cannot but appreciate the many ways in which the highlights of UG’s life enlighten us with divine truths which have not yet become apparent to us.
* * *
When there is a mention of astrology, UG often says, “I don’t believe in astrology. But it will be useful as a good example to those who are knowledgeable in it, if they can examine how, from the beginning, my horoscope has been governed by the influence of the movements of the planets.” The whole of UG’s life has run as a mirror image of what astrology has depicted as a result of the influence of great stages and sub-stages of the respective planets. It still does.
Nevertheless, when UG says, “Planets have no influence on my actions and there never will be any,” it’s quite true. It is only on the multitude of humanity which has been severed from the infinite consciousness and carries on in diversity that the planets have influence. How can there be a separate existence for great souls like UG who are united with the universal consciousness and who vibrate with limitless life energy? That’s why, whatever intentions arise in these minds, they would be consonant with the influence of the planets.
“My actions are responses. They are never reactions,” says UG.
I ask that the things I am now going to write about should be examined in this light.
* * *
UG’s year of birth is Kalayukti. That’s one of the sixty years in the cycle of years in the Indian lunar almanac. The presiding deity for that year is Kalki. When the Sun was in the house of Gemini, that is, in the month of Ashadha, UG was born. Trivikrama is the presiding deity of the month of Ashadha.
Everyone knows about the incarnation of Vishnu called Trivikrama. The myth tells us the story of how Trivikrama, in order to satisfy the three ‘steps’ of Bali’s gift, pushes Bali down to the underworld with his foot as the third step, while with his first two steps he occupies the whole of the animate and inanimate universes. Satyanarayana tells us of the implied symbolism of this in an interesting fashion:
The emperor Bali was a spiritual aspirant pining for the realization of non-duality. Vishnu appeared in the form of Vamana. With one of his two steps he filled the phenomenal universe and with his second step he filled the unseen imaginary universe. Then there was no room left for Bali’s existence. “Where shall I place my third step?” asked Vishnu. Bali was aware of his existence as separate from the universal consciousness. That’s why he asked Vishnu to place his third step on his head which was the basis of his existence. With the touch of Vishnu’s foot, the duality in Bali’s consciousness was shattered. He was plunged in the infinite ocean of consciousness.
The essence of the incarnation of UG, who was born under the supervision of the God Kalki, is to destroy the division in consciousness, says Satyanarayana.
* * *
Commenting on the coincidence of UG’s birth dates [both Eastern and Western] falling on the same day, Vedam Satyanarayana said: “This year the planetary situation is very close to that which obtained at the time of UG’s birth 76 years ago. If we have to hazard a guess about the nature of things to come, we must first understand the nature of the forces that were unleashed at the time of his birth.” He then told me that UG’s birth itself was a rare celestial event which heralded the birth of a great force. I knew well that my friend is never given to exaggerations. Precision and veracity have been his hallmarks, be it in his field of statistics or in his hobby of astrology.
I was curious to know how UG’s birth created a sensation in the heavens. “You need to fire your imagination a bit to behold the picture I am going to project,” said Vedam with a benign smile. His dark serene face glowed as though he was under the spell of some mysterious power.
Imagine yourself standing at the place of UG’s birth, Machilipatnam, on the globe. Imagine watching the rise of planetary constellations in the heavens in the same sequence as depicted in his natal chart. A constellation rose in the horizon every two hours. UG’s birth took place on July 9, 1918 at 06:12 am, when the entire Western horizon was waking up to the new dawn. Sukra (Venus) and Ketu (the Descending Node) are the two planets that appeared in the constellation of Vrishabha (Taurus) in the first two hours of the early morning of UG’s birth.
According to Hindu mythology Guru (Jupiter) and Sukra are two great teachers who labored to end the divisive consciousness which is the root cause of mankind’s misery. Guru symbolizes belief, orthodoxy, tradition and long-lasting trust, while Sukra symbolizes doubt, scientific and investigative approach and an ever-changing temperament.
While Guru became the leader of the divine forces ruling the universe, Sukra, the one-eyed doyen of the occult powers, consolidated the dark forces and countered the godly forces. Both the forces waged wars against each other for ages trying to establish a unitary force. At last they both realized the limitations of their efforts. Their prayer for the advent of a Universal Force was answered in the birth of UG.
Thus Sukra appeared in the Vrishabha [means ‘the bull’, the carrier of Lord Siva] constellation, with a flag of ‘total emancipation’, symbolized by Ketu, who is also called moksha karaka [‘the bestower of enlightenment’]. Sukra was in the forefront of the cosmic parade of the planets, heralding the birth of the Universal Force in which divisions have disappeared. Lord Ganesha is considered to be the presiding deity of Ketu.
The next constellation to appear in the firmament was Mithuna (Gemini) which symbolized the culmination of all dualities. Guru (Jupiter) appeared first in this constellation. Lord Brahma is considered the presiding deity of Jupiter. Ravi (Sun) appeared next with his presiding deity Lord Siva.
It is believed in the ancient lore that when Lord Siva came down to fight the demons called Tripura Asuras, Lord Brahma became his charioteer. The Sun and the Moon formed the two wheels of the divine chariot. Ravi in the ascendant is said to be the Atma karaka [‘bestower of self-realization’]. In UG’s chart, Ravi is in Mithuna and Moon is in Kataka (Cancer), symbolizing the two wheels of the chariot driven by Brahma, the presiding deity of Jupiter.
The Ascendant in UG’s chart symbolizes the Universal Force that had descended in the Mithuna constellation at 29 degrees and 30 minutes.
When Lagna [‘ascendant’] rises at the end of the Ravi which is owned by the benefic Guru which occupies the kendra [‘square’] or kona [‘trine’], the native is said to attain emancipation in this very birth. He will be an unusual contributor to mankind. [Ref. Astrological Magazine, March, 1973.]
In UG’s case, Mithuna is the lagna, and the lagna’s lord Budha is benefic. Guru occupies Kendra, thus satisfying all the above conditions.
According to the Indian calendar, UG was born on the Ashada Shukla Padyami [1st day in the bright half of the Ashadha month]. In Hindu mythology it is stated that Lord Siva manifested himself on that same day to save his devotee Markandeya from the clutches of death. Siva thus came to be known as Kalasamhara Murti [‘destroyer of Time’] who killed Yama, representing ‘Time’, in one stroke with his trident [symbol of past, present and future].
The next constellation, Kataka (Cancer), rose in the horizon containing Moon, Mercury and Saturn. Chandra (Moon), the lord of Kataka, symbolizes the mind of the Universal Force. Having occupied the same Varga [‘class’] in six amsas [‘aspects’], Chandra is said to have attained the Parvatamsa [‘the aspect of the mountain’], in astrological jargon. Similarly both Budha (Mercury) and Sani (Saturn) have attained Gopuramsa [‘the aspect of the gate’] and Simhasanamsa [‘the aspect of the throne’], respectively. The presiding deity of Chandra is Durga, whereas that of Ravi is Siva. Both Siva and Sakti become the unifying forces of the ascendant. This aspect bestowed Ardhanariswaratva [‘the characteristic of being half-woman half-man’] on UG.
According to Indian astrology, each planet has its own distinct energy form called mandala. It is said that the energy form of Saturn is the ‘bow’ and that of Mercury is the ‘arrow’. In UG’s chart they are in the 2nd house, which signifies speech. The Moon represents his mind-force which is like an invincible resolute warrior and which is poised to shoot using his words as arrows. Kataka being a movable sign, the presence of the three planets keeps him in constant movement.
By the time the other constellation Kanya (Virgo) appeared with Kuja (Mars), the Sun was in mid-heavens. It is known as Abhijan muhurtam, a very auspicious moment for the invincible Kuja (Mars) to rise. The indication is that Kuja wields his power during the mid-life.
The last constellation to appear with Rahu (Dragon’s Head) is Vrischika (Scorpio). Rahu is considered the Durga, sakti-power of the Divine Mother, which joined forces at the time of victory. Rahu in the 6th place and Jupiter in the ascendant bestow a yoga called Ashtalakshmi yoga, which keeps the rich and abundant resources of the world at the beck and call of the native.
* * *
April 8, 1997 (Tuesday) – New Year’s Day
Today is the beginning of the Year Ishwara. It’s evening, 8:15 pm. By this time UG must be flying in the area of Hong Kong above the Pacific Ocean. He will arrive in Bombay via Hong Kong on the night of 10th. Mahesh said that he would arrive in Bangalore the next morning on a Jet Airways flight.
* * *
Mahesh conveys UG’s message
April 9, 1997
Mahesh called from Bombay. He was announcing UG’s arrival. He had spent a few days with U.G. in Palm Springs earlier. “Babu, I never hated him like that in my life before, including all the past things he had said and stood for. This time I hated him,” Mahesh was talking about UG. “He is like an inferno, like a volcano. All the time he was boiling and bursting. He was shouting with total fierceness, ‘Mankind should be wiped out from the face of the planet!’ He’s out to destroy humanity. He’s not the same UG that we have known and talked to with fondness. I don’t want to be with him or go near him for anything in this life. Babu, we two, you and I, are the symbols of humanity. He is attacking everything we hold dear to ourselves. ‘Forewarned’ is ‘forearmed’, Babu, be careful! He is again talking of those photos and files. ‘Babu should not build his life around me,’ is his refrain.” That was the message Mahesh gave me today.
* * *
April 10, 1997, Thursday
The things Mahesh has told me on the phone yesterday and this morning are unforgettable. Those words still ring in my ears. I was shocked to hear Mahesh, who would die for UG, who considers UG as his walking God and who values UG higher than anything else, talking as if he wants to run away from UG.
He had just seen UG in the US. He was there in Palm Springs for six days before the beginning of April. Even when he called from there, he frightened me by asking, “Why are you inviting UG to India? You’re looping a noose around your neck.” I brushed it off telling myself that’s just Mahesh’s manner. But when he called me from Bombay he talked in the same fashion again: “The UG whom you have been so fondly and lovingly thinking about is not the UG you are going to see now. This is a volcano ready to erupt. This is a fire-face constantly bubbling with lava and burning, ready to destroy the human race.”
He continues and says that in each word and action of UG there is a passion and fury demolishing all the edifices of hope which we have built for so many years. “’Instruction through insult’ is a lie. How do we know in the first place that UG is enlightened?” When Mahesh talks like this, I feel that a change has occurred not in UG, but in Mahesh. Some unknown change is taking place. The steel citadels inside Mahesh are crumbling and a new energy unknown to him is rushing forth. That is why I think UG now appears to him that way.
“If I can help it at all, I will keep UG at a mile’s distance and run away. I can’t take UG. I can’t,” he says, “Forewarned is forearmed, Babu! Beware! Be careful! You can’t imagine. He is stamping with his feet more ferociously than Calcutta Kali. Wherever we try to hide, he drags us out mercilessly, tears us apart and cuts us into pieces!”
I know that UG talks about man’s appearance on the earth as the cause of its destruction. My friend is now telling me that a passion is now bursting forth like a conflagration in UG. Those who gather around him are unable to withstand that heat and are running for their lives.
I think it’s now becoming evident that UG is truth incarnate [avatara tattvam]. I feel this not just from listening to his words for so many years; or taking the blows he has dealt while thinking “this is all for our own good;” or thinking of the Zen masters and comforting ourselves that “we understand, only we don’t know that we do;” or thinking that perhaps we have been maturing and thus congratulating ourselves. Now the world will have a taste of UG’s power. He is fury incarnate and Narasimha [‘man-lion’], the incarnation of Vishnu. In UG, who combines the two, all must be consumed and turned into ashes. There is no escape. This is inevitable. O, world! Beware! Save yourself from yourself, if you can!
* * *
April 12, 1997, Saturday
Shanta called and wanted to see UG. Ever since she became a working woman, she has been busy with her routine schedule. Her visits to UG have become few and far between. On Saturday, she came to ‘Hridaya Vihar’ with her friend Suneeta. Shanta was dressed in a green chaudidar and looked glamorous. As soon as she arrived, she started talking to UG. She looked agitated and depressed. I couldn’t figure out what was bothering her. UG sat in his usual chair facing the main entrance. Shanta and Suneeta sat on the long sofa.
“UG, how come I’m back to square one after so many years? You must solve my problem….”
UG did not look impressed. He first tried to stall her by saying, “I don’t see any problem there now.” But she persisted and said that she did have a problem.
“Go to your gurus for solutions. Why come to me?” UG asked.
“UG, you’re of no use. You’re the only one who can solve my problem,” Shanta said threateningly. “I seem to be losing my interest in everything. I have no conviction in anything. I have no goals and no purpose in living. I’ve lost all hope. What’s left is only despair. This is torturing me, UG. You must help,” she pleaded.
“That’s all good for you,” replied UG and said nothing more. Shanta then turned to me and said, “Chandrasekhar, I am now 49. You remember, you once said looking into my palm that in my 49th year I would be facing a crisis in my life? I think your prophecy has come true. I have really lost my interest in everything.”
Then UG looked at her with a mischievous smile and said, “Nothing is free in this world. It will cost you if we have to solve your problem, your non-existing problem.” Shanta answered that she was ready to pay the price.
“Then pay now, cash on the barrel – fifty thousand. I shall settle for rupees because this is India. Otherwise, it would be fifty thousand dollars. If you pay me Rs. 50,000, you will then forget your problem and start thinking about the money you have lost. And your problem is solved!” said UG.
We all burst into laughter. Shanta, too, couldn’t help but laugh. For a moment she appeared to be out of her depressed mood and back to her normal jovial self. Then UG talked for a while about the problem of relationships.
Shanta said, “I lost all my feeling for relationships. I feel as if I don’t have a relationship with anyone.”
“It never existed in the first place,” UG corrected her. “When you don’t want to let go of a relationship, you use emotion. First of all, relationships are non-existing. You think you have relationships with people around you. You can possess articles, houses or cars. But how can you possess human beings?” he continued, “You use emotions to control people.”
Shanta and Suneeta stayed and had dinner that night with UG. I suggested that she should read her own book on UG to get over her problem. Before she took leave of UG, Shanta said, “UG, after hearing you, reading books about you and spending so many years with you, I thought I had understood you. But now, after twenty years, I am back to square one. I have been happy all this time. I thought I had understood and sorted out all my problems. But suddenly I realized that I know nothing. I have lost my interest in life. Save me.”
UG somehow seemed to have showed her again that night that she actually had no problem. She left in a cheerful mood.
* * *
April 13, 1997, Sunday -- Bangalore
Dr. Sudarshan of BR Hills, a man of alternate Nobel Prize fame, came to see UG at 3 pm. There was a big gathering. UG spoke for about two hours. “The body requires only two ‘F’s,’ said UG in one context. Dr. Sudarshan looked puzzled. He probably guessed the first “F” as food, but he could not guess the second ‘F’. “What’s the second ‘F’, UG?” he asked him naïvely. He did not expect UG to be so blunt and crude in his approach. When UG explained explicitly the activity for which the second ‘F’ stood, he couldn’t believe his ears. While leaving, he received from me a set of all the books on UG for his library in BR Hills. He invited us all to BR hills. Does UG visit such places? “Do you want me to destroy?” UG asked Sudarshan.
Rangarajan, the ‘maddie’, was here this evening. He told us that he had written to his Master of the Radhasami Satsang recommending that UG be granted the ‘higher states’. He mentioned to UG about his letter to his guru. UG said, “I am ready to take you as my guru, but not your guru.” Major interpreted UG’s remark and told Rangarajan to behave himself; otherwise, he warned, he would be asked to get out.
* * *
April 16, 1997, Wednesday – Madras
We four (UG, Major, Suguna and I) left for Madras at 4:30 am. That evening there was a gathering on the terrace of Krishnamurti’s house. Rajan came to see UG. Dr. Ravindra Babu from Vizag was also there. UG talked about many things:
“I never have jet lag. I adjust my body clock to the time of destination two days in advance.”
“The pineal gland controls the sex impulses and functions of the sex glands.”
“Sex is impossible for me. My penis is the size of a child’s.”
“Karma is not fatalism. It’s not genetic. Man is the molder of his own future and architect of his own destiny.”
“I am responding to every situation, whereas you are only reacting.”
“’Karma’ means action, action without any reaction.”
“I don’t need any doctor. The body has enough intelligence to survive. My saliva cures my wounds. Surgeons are like mechanics. Medical technology knows nothing about the body. What they know is immense. But what they don’t know is infinite. Still, I tell people who are suffering to go to a doctor. There is no special charm in suffering.”
April 23, Wednesday
Last night was the full moon of the first lunar month. The moon was showering light from the clear skies. Major’s freshly white-washed cottage was shining in the moonlight like the Taj Mahal. All the coconut trees in the garden stood swaying their heads as if they were bathing in the moonlight. The koil birds were clearing their throats now and then sitting on the mango branches preparing for the next morning’s performance.
The garden is asleep
hiding in the womb of the river...
Enki and Nayudu Bava [‘cousin’] [the two lead characters of the poetic work, Enki Patalu, by Nanduri Subba Rao] flashed in my mind spontaneously. “Will you not love me tonight, my prince?” Enki’s plaint resounds in my heart.
There were bright lights in the living room. As soon as I saw UG’s form through the bars of the window, feelings of anger, revenge and hostility -- all surged in me. Although I abruptly turned around and stood outside the cottage, greeting the hibiscus flowers, I could hear UG’s voice sounding like a death knell. There were about 15 people in the living room.
Yesterday evening, Hanumantha Rayudu brought a couple of old friends to my home in a Maruti car. One of the two, Rajaprakash, is the father of the Kannada movie hero Sashi Kumar. They wanted to meet UG. I and Suguna set out with those three for the forest cottage in Banneru Ghatta. By afternoon 5 pm, they were all sitting in the living room listening to UG speaking.
Since yesterday morning I have been experiencing some disagreeable feeing. It’s not in my stomach nor is it in my head. Then where? In my heart? What does the heart care about all these feelings? It keeps doing its job, beating away. Who has this disagreeable feeling? Is it me which has built a separate nest called the ‘I’? Who am I? What am I to myself? ... No use. Even before UG set his foot in Bangalore, Mahesh had warned me. Not just warned. He sounded a death knell on the phone, but I did not listen. “UG is going to see to your end, beware, my friend” -- with words such as these he tried to prepare me as best as he could. I laughed within myself at Mahesh’s foolishness. “What can UG do to someone who is ready to die? Could anyone do anything more horrible than that?” -- I was so confident.
Then UG came to Bangalore and the stoves in my heart were lighted. My mind has not been at peace for all these ten days. Whenever UG came before, he would burn me with his words. So, this time I thought I should be careful and stay away. I decided that as much as possible I would try to avoid the situations where I might be left alone with him.
But this time, UG is not saying anything to me. And I am unable to bear his presence. Why? As much as I reassure myself, I cringe when I see UG, as if I am facing Yama, the god of Death, himself. My only thought is how to get away from him. My mind tries to run here and there finding some useless errands to do. If I force myself to sit in front of UG by ‘dragging myself by the ear’, my mind complains as if it has gone crazy. It heckles loudly about UG before his words even come out of his mouth. “Why do you listen to this stuff? You have been listening to it all these years. How has it benefited you? Get up and get out!” it commands with authority. But where to go? And for how long?
Then, UG appears again. “My God, he came back so soon” -- I beat my chest. “Why does he come here?” – my mind frowns. How many people from America to Hong Kong, how many types of people from various foreign countries, how many friends, pine day and night, all starving for UG’s gaze, for a word from his mouth or for a smile? I list in my mind many of them by name (as far as I could remember). “You don’t even appreciate the great fortune that has fallen on you! What a pity! You frown when the person who doesn’t accept anyone’s invitation comes right here to your door! Whom do you think he has come here for? For himself or his own pleasure?” This dumb mind doesn’t respond. Still it frowns. It doesn’t have the strength to refute my argument, but it doesn’t quit its ploys to defeat me. “You crazy fellow, you fall into the confusion that it’s all for your own good and set fire to your own house. You will be extinguished as you wait and watch; watch how that UG will drag you into perdition. He has already turned you into a useless fellow. He didn’t leave you a penny of your earnings. What have you gained from his friendship? What interest in life did he let you keep? Where is your music? What happened to your literary taste? Where is your poet’s heart hidden, my poor fellow, the heart which went into ecstasies watching the flowers, the birds, children, blue skies and stars that sparkled in the deep dark night? Look at yourself just once and observe how your being has been warped. You still want to sing to the tune of UG? Miserable fellow, listen to my advice; it’s not too late. Take care of this craziness before it boils over from your heart into your throat and gets into your head from there,” says my mind settling down in its seat. But why all this baseless hostility? Why can’t I accept the situation even after I recognize all the help and caring UG has given me and my family? Then what do I really want? I don’t understand that either. “Right now, I must escape from UG’s clutches, that’s all,” my mind insists.
* * *
When Suguna started a conversation with Rajasekhara Reddi the other night with just one question, “How is your book coming along?” all the sadness, frustration and despair that have been pent-up in him for years broke loose. For half an hour he told in front of UG how tightly his life has been tied to that book, and how that book has squeezed him high and dry, rendering him impotent until it is finished.
“Not a single day passes without my lamenting, ‘How did this UG happen to me? Why did I ever meet him? Why did that guy B.L. Narayana call me and introduce me to him in the first place?’” His book is titled Jivana Lila. Rajasekhar is trying to present UG’s life in the form of a novel for the first time in Telugu literature. He has submitted it to the novel competition of TANA Association in the US. If they select the book, they will publish it as well as give him a cash prize of Rs.120,000. “They haven’t rejected the book; nor have they accepted and published it. That’s the fact of the matter,” Rajasekhar concluded.
* * *
Between 14 and 21 years of age, UG went through all possible travails to learn about the state of release. In 1932, the head of the Siva Ganga Pitha [seat of religion] initiated him by giving him the Siva Mantra. Since then he had been repeating the mantra. UG says he also used to repeat the Gayatri Mantra three thousand times a day. For seven years he practiced meditation, yoga, pranayama and such in Swami Sivananda’s presence.
Even in those days, the experiences he had had were not ordinary. When he was 14, Master Kuthumi, whom Theosophists believe in, appeared to him. UG says that Kuthumi accompanied him in his subtle body for two years. How is that possible? UG says that our thoughts have so much power. It seems more appropriate to call them our ‘will’ than our ‘thoughts’. The power of the will is so immense. Whenever UG thought of him Master K.H. would appear before him. “Thought is very powerful. You can create your God in front of you; you can take a walk with Him hand in hand,” he says now, meaning that the visions he had had in those days were all created by him. He says there was no end to his spiritual experiences. Samadhi -- savikalpa and nirvikalpa Samadhi -- happened to him easily. He experienced all sorts of states of bliss. “Is that all there is to those experiences? If I could experience them, then I must have had previous knowledge about them. I was imagining what I had already known and was deluded into thinking that I was experiencing something new,” he concluded and brushed those experiences all aside.
Just as Nachiketa’s strong urge to find out what death is brought him to the abode of Yama, the urge to know “What is that state called release; and what is that unequalled state which prophets like Buddha and Sankara proclaimed?” became a wildfire within UG and finally consumed his ‘garden of life’. A thriving family, name and fame in society, inherited wealth – all got consumed like fuel in the fire of life. On his 49th birthday he himself was consumed in that fire as the last piece of firewood. What finally remained? Was the fire extinguished? Did he realize the truths he was seeking? “Nothing of the sort,” declares UG, “That UG is gone; he has never returned. A fire which smolders day and night, a fire covered with ashes, constantly burns silently just as rice husk that has caught fire. You can’t see it from the outside. But if you touch it, it will burn you.”
Venkata Chalapati insists that all the sadhanas UG had practiced before surely helped him. Not just Chalapati, but anyone who is caught in the nexus of cause and effect would assert the same. “The repetition of Siva mantra or the repetition of Gayatri – how can he claim that none of them was of any use? His present state is indeed the result of those sadhanas,” they say, as if they know it all. They try to convince UG as if he has been caught in some confusion.
Many people strongly believe that there is no possibility of anything happening without a cause, although they don’t believe that whatever they see, whatever appears to the senses or occurs to the mind is literally real. “We may not see the cause on the surface, but it must be there,” they argue. When UG says to them, “This is purely acausal; none of the struggles I went through or the efforts I had made have any relevance to it,” they smile with their eyes, as if they know what has happened. With statements like, “UG detests tradition and ancient ways. Although he admits that he followed them, he is reluctant to give them credit. That’s why he puts them down,” they justify their beliefs.
Is UG deliberately misleading us? Is he trying to hoodwink us with his tricky words?
“This occurrence is acausal” -- he said this not just today; he has been saying it ever since the Calamity had occurred. In fact, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that UG is the only person who has been emphasizing this from the beginning so clearly and consistently, without leaving any room for misconception.
Every event is independent. Our daily events are not connected to one another. ‘You’ are the one who is linking them up and creating a cause-effect relationship. If you watch UG’s daily conduct of life, this ‘linkless activity’ becomes quite evident.
When we wake up every morning, how do we know that the ‘yesterday’s we’ is the same as ‘today’s we’? Isn’t it on the basis of memory? That means our whole existence is memory. There is nothing outside of memory. Based on it, we string together the various incidents that occur in our everyday life. If that string is broken, the events become scattered. It is this truth that UG strives to show us; no, it is the truth that he appears to us as striving to show.
Venkata Chalapati closed his eyes for a little while and fell into deep contemplation. He has one great trait: he is not keen on selling his beliefs.
Whether we agree or disagree with what UG says, we gain little. By merely learning that there is no cause-effect relationship in our day-to-day activities we will not be transformed into gods. Even that knowing is part of the cause-effect relationship. This [statement] too is [based on] knowing. If we keep thinking like this, like peeling an onion layer by layer, we will have nothing left in our hands. But our tears from the fumes won’t stop.
* * *
There is a note in my notebook saying that Kuppuswami, a disciple of Swami Vidyanarayana Tirtha, requested the Swami to write a biography of UG. This probably happened when Swamiji visited UG in 1997. “My request is that you should write a book on UG. He is a kind of new species. Being a doctor yourself and also a saint, you are better equipped to write on the biological aspects of UG’s Calamity or enlightenment. It will surely help the whole of mankind,” said Kuppuswami. But it never happened. Swamiji by that time had already contemplated a prolonged travel.
There is a small twist here. This happened when Swami Vidyanarayana Tirtha visited UG in the Farm House. The day was May 3rd, 1997, Saturday. Swamiji arrived with four of his disciples from Rajajinagar around noon.
The things UG said that day: “The human species is the worst on this planet. If this species is wiped out, nothing is lost. I am discussing with the administrators of MIT about the possibility of creating a trust for a project to wipe out the human species. The legal adviser there asked me, ‘Who will approve of such a project?’” Then UG talked about the pineal gland, the ajna chakra. “It takes over the control of the body. From then on all actions of the body are controlled by the pineal gland, not by thought.”
“Nature discards the perfected model. Once it perfects a model, it discards it. It has no interest in reproducing or making copies of it.”
“If you are lucky to touch life at a point where no one else has touched it, whatever is there begins to express itself.”
“You make this [me] obsolete. It’s not going to help anybody.”
“There is no use in writing books or recording tapes.”
“I am determined to destroy what I’ve said before. This is the last phase of my life...”
Swamiji said, “UG is the ultimate God. He stands for that. I am a nobody compared to him.”
Swamiji continued: “Now you had the darshan of the Lord. In this world there are several groups. Some connected to Siva; some are the followers of Vishnu; some are the followers of Madhvacharya, and so on. But an avatar like UG comes rarely to show the true path.”
UG replied to them: “You came to the wrong man.”
Swamiji cast a mischievous look at UG. After a while he asked UG, “What are the Swiss people like? What is their characteristic nature?”
UG said: “All people are the same. Be they Indian, American, Swiss or Russian. Everybody is after one thing: happiness without a moment of unhappiness. Permanent happiness is what everybody is seeking. Unfortunately it doesn’t exist anywhere. That’s the tragedy of the human race.”
Swamiji then said something to UG in Kannada which meant “You are elder to me in all respects.” UG smiled and remarked in Kannada: “Kannada barolla” [“I can’t speak Kannada”]. There was a burst of laughter from the gathering. Suddenly, UG’s face became serious. He turned to the Swamiji and said: “What do you want sir? You want all this and heaven too. Whatever you want you already know. How can you ask for a thing which you don’t know? What I am saying is not in your field of knowing. You want to experience the oneness. You are already one with That. There is no separateness. That is what I am saying. Whatever you are doing is the one that is creating the separateness. It is strengthening that separateness.”
Mohan interrupted and asked, “What shall we do, UG? Why can’t you help us? You understand our situation very well. Can’t you help us?”
“You don’t need any help. I know that you don’t want to accept that fact,” said UG.
Mohan turned to Swamiji and asked, “Swamiji, do you have any question to ask UG?”
Swamiji smiled and said, “I have come here to enjoy his presence, not to bother him with questions.”
Then he added as his advice to all that gathered, “Just listen, connect, and leave.”
* * *
[On May 3rd, 1997, Saturday, UG talked about logic and its usefulness in real life.]
“When I was young I was repeating Annambhatta’s book on logic, Tarka Samgraha: ‘Yatra yatra dhumah, tatra tatra vahnih,’ wherever there is smoke, there is fire. That’s the most absurd logic. I don’t even say this is hard – [UG touches the table], that this is a chair. My touch doesn’t tell me, my eyes don’t tell me that this is a chair. I may be looking at it for a length of time, but I never tell myself that this is a chair. Hard! My foot doesn’t tell that the touch is hard or that the bench is hard. I have necessarily to separate myself to know that the touch is hard. Thought has to step in and separate the two. Otherwise, there is no translation. You too don’t know what you are looking at. You are all dead. What is there is something living. The dead structure in which you are operating can never capture that living thing. It burns. That’s why I said to that scientist who wanted to tell me that there is no space, no time and all that. I listened to that crap; then I asked, ‘Look here, buddy, do you mean to say there is no space? When you are about to fuck your wife, or bitch, or somebody, if there is no space as you say, can there be love-making? Can there be a wife, if there is no space?’ That man was aghast. He held his head in both hands and said, ‘Oh God! I never thought of that! What can I do? How can I go on with my scientific pursuits?’”
* * *
He won’t even forget a bunch of coriander....
That day, June 17, 1997, UG was in Bangalore, upstairs, in ‘Hridaya Vihar’. It was 6 am in the morning. UG was swinging on the swing in the balcony. The neem tree next to him was whisking away with new foliage. The summer weather in Bangalore was pleasant. I came upstairs carrying a tray of oatmeal and cream for UG. He took the tray and placed it next to him on the swing. Major and I sat in the rattan chairs facing him. “The weather is very good. The cool breeze is pleasant,” remarked UG. “The wind is blowing me away. I have no consciousness that the body is moving;” he said again, “there is no one here. I wonder how the words are coming out of me.” Just then, the Australians called on the phone. UG’s birthday was still ahead. “Mere greetings are of no use! They should be backed with lots of money!” UG told them.
There was a scarcity of coriander in the market place. You couldn’t find it anywhere. Suguna sent some people out on a mission of a coriander hunt. UG must have observed all this. In the evening we all went to Gandhi Bazaar to buy something in the Food World Store. By then we had all but forgotten about coriander. As soon as he got out of the car, UG said to Suguna, “Look, they are selling coriander there.” We were all surprised at UG’s remembering. “This is a computer machine. The fact that it’s hard to find coriander was registered in it. Without any prompting, it noticed the coriander,” said UG.
* * *
“Go to your president and beg him...”
A day in June 1997. We went with UG to the Commercial Street. UG said he wanted to buy a track suit. At the beginning of the street a well-dressed stranger stopped UG and started talking to him. I thought he knew UG. I walked closer toward them. He was asking UG to help him with money -- a stylish beggar. He was not happy with pennies. He wanted rupees. I was watching with curiosity to see how UG would respond or how much he would give him. “Go to your President Shankar Dayal Sharma and beg him. Don’t ask me,” he said and moved away fast. The stylish beggar’s face turned pale. I followed UG quickly.
* * *
This is an incident from UG’s youth. When he was studying in Gudiwada, he employed a Harijan boy called Gangayya as his secretary. Gangayya used to do all the chores and ride a bicycle with UG on its back seat. When UG’s grandmother wanted to ask UG about anything, she would have to ask his secretary. “How many days will the boy stay? When will he leave?” she would ask and learn about his plans. Gangayya was quite intelligent. He used to compose poetry ex tempore in Telugu. In later years, he passed the IAS Examinations and became a government official. Apparently, years later, he met UG in Delhi and invited him to his home. UG realized that the official was totally corrupt. He was earning a lot of money. “What did you do for your folks and people of your caste? You have such a high status now. Have you helped them in any way?” asked UG. Gangayya replied that he couldn’t do anything. “I have two daughters. I must marry them and see to it that they will live happily. That’s why I’m going through all this trouble,” he said.
* * *
“You want me to help you die?”
In the book Mystique of Enlightenment there is a chapter with the same title. It was James Brodsky who selected and transcribed all those paragraphs from the tapes of UG’s conversations. Back then he had been a full male. Now he has changed his sex and became Jane. She is close to Julie. Before he had met UG, James had talked with JK for two hours about his urges to commit suicide. JK tried to prevent him from committing suicide in many ways. Later, when he finally met UG, he mentioned his problem to him. UG encouraged his suicide attempts and his urge to commit suicide by asking him, “Do you want some help from me to die?” With that James’ sickness had disappeared. He never contemplated suicide again.
* * *
“Humans should reduce themselves to the level of animals...”
On June 26, 1997, G. S. Mani, the famous Karnatic musician arrived in Bangalore from Madras by the Mail train. He came especially to meet UG. He spent the whole day with UG and left the same night. “Humans should reduce themselves to the level of animals in all their activities. That’s the only way the human race can survive,” said UG in the course of his conversations with Madurai G.S. Mani.
“Which is superior -- the human race or other animal species?” I asked UG. “That question is still based on the assumption that human birth is a rare privilege. Actually, there is no higher or lower,” said UG.
* * *
“Your relationship with your money says it all...”
Once, Vedantam Satyanarayana (in the same year, i.e., 1997) came to see UG. He was about to make a remark by saying, “Every time we come to you....” UG interrupted him and said, “You are wasting your time and money.” Vedantam was taken aback. “No, that’s not what I meant. What I was trying to say was that each time we meet you, you are evaluating our spiritual progress,” said Vedantam.
“Your relationship with your money says it all. Even if you give away your money in charity, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the same as hoarding it. One has to see for himself or herself how one is related to money,” said UG.
* * *
“I have yet to see a person who does things without expecting anything in return,” said UG.
“What about yourself, sir?” asked Vedantam. “I am not doing anything. I am not giving to others anything that I want,” replied UG.
* * *