Dialogue Between Dada Vaswani And Nipun Mehta
--Sheetal Sanghvi
12 minute read
Dec 25, 2015

[Two weeks back, we had an unexpected occasion to be with Dada Vaswani in Pune.  On Nipun-bhai's last trip, we had an unforgettable encounter with him; on this trip, although schedules were tight, I was keen to explore another opportunity.  And serendipity cooperated, yet again.  It turned out that Dada Vaswani not only hosted us at his ashram, but changed his schedule to meet us in the morning hours.  In a rare series of blessings, Dada invited us in his private sanctuary, allowed 50-60 of our friends to listen into the dialogue, spent a fair amount of time with us while speaking candidly, and at the end, blessed each guest individually.  While the exchange was recorded, the ambiance was a thing to be experienced.  Audrey, for example, said that tears uncontrollably rolled down her cheeks for the entire duration of the dialogue.  So many people were unexplicably moved in similar ways, as the vibrations of the space effortlessly penetrated through many deep pores of our consciousness.  It all felt like a profound blessing.  Below is a transcript, lovingly offered in the spirit of gratitude.]

Nipun: In the last part of the Darshan Show, we heard Sadhu Vaswani's words: "If I could only utter one word, it would be give. Give, give and give." Why do you think it is so hard for us to give, when it should be so natural for us to give?

Dada: It is true it is natural for us to give, but we have suppressed our nature, through birth after birth. This is not the only birth that we have taken. Through each birth, we have kept on adding layer upon layer, with the result that our natural consciousness is completely forgotten. If a holy man were to look at you, he would not see what an ordinary man sees. He would go right into the depth of your consciousness, and see what you are, and which you do not see yourself.

Now we are to get back to that, that is all that we have to do -- we have to be what we originally were. Therefore the teaching of every saint, every man of God, is that you must devote some time everyday to the factors of silence. Every holy man will tell you that. It is in silence that you dive within yourself, that you keep on sinking deeper and deeper within yourself, until you arrive at the level at which really existed. It is a return to your original self. I shouldn’t say yourself, I should say ourselves, because I, too, am like you.

Nipun: This morning I went to the Samadhi of Kasturba, here in Pune. Sadhu Vaswani's work seems to be at the intersection of spirituality and society -- the needs of society -- which is also seems to be aligned with Gandhi-ji and Vinoba-ji.

Dada: Sadhu Vaswani and Gandhiji worked together in the initial stages of the freedom movement. Sadhu Vaswani was interviewed by a press correspondent in the year 1921, and his press correspondent put to him a direct question. "Do you think freedom is coming to India?" Sadhu Vaswani had said, "Sure, as the sun rises in the east, freedom is coming to India. But my one anxiety is that when freedom comes, India should not be found wanting."

Nipun: Should not be found wanting?

Dada: Wanting. Sadhu Vaswani turned his attention to constructive work. He opened the Ashram. He said we should prepare young people so that they are able to take charge of different spheres of human activity when freedom does come to India. He continued to be friends with Gandhi and almost every book that Sadhu Vaswani wrote in those days carries a tribute to Gandhi.

Nipun: Do you think the young generation today is living up to the inheritance of people like Sadhu Vaswani and Gandhiji?

Dada: No.

Nipun: That was a quick response. Why not?

Dada: Because of the type of education that is being given to young people. It is not politics that can change a nation, it is education. If you want India to become a nation of the truly strong, a nation of the truly free, you must have a different type of education. The education that we are giving to our students today makes them selfish. Education is for the purposes of making a person selfless. He should live for others.

We need an education which will teach us that life is larger than livelihood; the end of knowledge is not gains in silver and gold, jobs and careers, but service and sacrifice. The root of education should be reverence. It was Tennyson who said, "Let knowledge grow from more to more, but more of reverence in us dwell." The root should be reverence, and the fruit should be service. Both are missing. The education that we receive divides the city dwellers from the villager. The city dweller feels that he is superior to the villager, which he is not. We have so much to learn of the villagers.

Nipun: There is a lot of technology these days, and they call it progress, but many times it's actually distracting us.

Dada: Yes.

Nipun: We aren't even able to pay attention to fellow human beings.

Dada: No. We are not.

Nipun: What do you think of technology? Should we improve it so that it's more integrated with our values, or should we stay away from it?

Dada: No. We should (ban or bend?) it.

Nipun: Ban it?

Dada: We should have a goal in view, and everything that we do should tend towards that goal. And the goal is living for others, not living for self alone.

Nipun: In the show at Darshan, I was moved to tears twice. One was when I heard Sadhu Vaswani chant. I didn’t know it was his voice. It was very moving. The second was in your video, when you were narrating the dream that you had when he was 80, and he says, "I want to forsake the heavens even if I hear one cry on Earth."

Dada: Yes.

Nipun: Can you share a little bit about that result? Because there are many people who say we should become pure, we should be good human beings; we should be awakened, and enlightened.

Dada: Yes.

Nipun: It seems like your teaching, your life, and Sadhu Vaswani's life, is asking us to be first rooted in compassion.

Dada: Yes.

Nipun: Can you share more about it? It seems very close to the Bodhisattva ideal in Buddhism.

Dada: Yeah. Sadhu Vaswani believed that everything that we have is a loan given to us to be passed on to those whose need is greater than ours. Mahatma Gandhi came to the point, and he said, "Everything we have is a trust given," but Sadhu went a step still further, he said, "It was not a trust it is a loan given to us. We live and move and do our work on the physical plane. On the physical plane, there is division. There is you, there is I, but if we go a little upwards, we arrive at a stage where we all are one." There is no reason that we, on the physical plane, cannot understand that. It is a fact.

Nipun: Last time we met, I was very moved by your humility. Coupled with that, I was also was going to ask you about blessings, and the role of blessings in our lives. Is a blessing just a kind wish or a more selfless wish? Can everyone bless us, or only the holy people? What is the role of blessings? It seems to me that when we are humble we become better recipients of blessings, and better givers of blessings. Can you speak a little bit about humility and its connection to blessings?

Dada: True humility grows when I realize that each one of you is a carrier of God. Every one of you. There is the physical heart in our bodies, but alongside that heart, at the center of our chest, there is the spiritual heart. In that spiritual heart is a cave, and that cave is the Lord himself. Each one of you is a carrier of God. If you are a carrier of God, if I meet you, if I speak to you, if I deal with you, naturally, I have to be humbled. It's something that is natural. It is because of my ignorance that I behave otherwise.

There is nothing special about humility, it is something which is very natural. Bhagavad Gita which is regarded a perhaps the smallest and the greatest scripture of India; in it, Lord Shri Krishna said, "Arjuna never forget that I am seated in the hearts of all." Of all, mind you. Of every creature that breathes the breath of life, not merely every human being. Knowing this I cannot help but be humble.

Nipun: What do you think about blessings when giving love to other people? Does it happen effortlessly, or does it happen with will?

Dada: Both.

Nipun: Both? Is one better than the other?

Dada: The natural is better, because you do it without your knowing it.

Nipun: Should we take questions from people here? Would that be okay?

Dada: Yes. Provided I can answer them. If there is one amongst you who has a better answer than the one that I have given, don’t hesitate in asking for the mic. I say that only to be fair.

Nipun: I want to embarrass somebody. The person that’s responsible for bringing all of us together, and it's her birthday today.

Dada: I see.

Nipun: She is from Punjab, home of the Sikh tradition. And I saw a lot of Guru Nanak in Sadhu Vaswani's life, and so I was wondering if you could share some insights from the Sikh tradition in the honor of Khushmita's birthday for all of us. My wife also happens to be Sikh, so I have a selfish motive. :)

Dada: Guru Nanak, I think, was the first spiritual leader who pointed to that immensity of creation. He says, "There is not one sky only, there are millions of skies. There is not one universe only, there are millions of universes." This vision, as far as I know, he was the first spiritual leader to draw our attention to. "What are you, O man?" It was James Dean, the great scientist, who said "This entire earth is only a grain of sand in the Sahara of space, one grain of sand. Then what are you?

That one grain of sand Asia is one grain among many grains. India is a grain of a grain of a grain. Maharashtra is a grain of a grain of a grain of a grain of a grain. Pune is a grain of a grain of a grain … This venue is 10 Sadhu Vaswani road, but it is a grain of a grain of a grain of a grain …

The gurus are known for their humility, all the gurus. All the 10 gurus, they are made of humility; Guru Angad, the second guru. There was a famous yogi, who came and met him, and he gave him a big lecture on occult powers. Guru Angad quietly held space, and when this man got tired of speaking and wanted to take leave, and he said to Guru Angad, "It is not that I have powers, but I can also give powers to others. You ask me for something."

Guru Angad said, "I do not need anything. Whatever I need, God has given me. I need nothing." He said, "No, but please ask me." He insisted that he ask something, so finally, Guru Angad said, "If I have to ask something, then grant me the gift of humility." With eyes wide open, this Yogi said, "Alas, I do not have humility."

Nipun: Why, Dada, do so many people in this world today, who have some level of mental purity and some capacity to serve the world, create boundaries around their institutions and work -- which often add to the suffering in the world. Why do you think we do that?

Dada: In several cases it happens naturally.

Nipun: What do you mean?

Dada: A person doesn’t have to do it, it happens naturally. In some cases, we do it ourselves, which is wrong. There are cases in which people work as assistants or as comrades of a leader, they separate, and they start their own institution, which is not … it is not really in spirit, because the call of the spirit world is humility.

Nipun: You are now 97 years old. Last time when we spoke, I was asking you, "Dada, what happens after you?" You had said, "This is God's show anyway, so why should I worry?"

Dada: Yes. It is his work. It is his work, yes.

Nipun: You don’t want the movement to continue after you? Or if it continues, it continues, otherwise it's okay.

Dada: It will.

Nipun: It will?

Dada: It will, because we are giving it in the hands of God. There is no choice. He has to make it continue.

Nipun: In a way, the flow of love is what has always continued.

Dada: Yeah, yeah.

Nipun: It has never stopped.

Dada: Never stopped, no.

Nipun: It cannot stop.

Dada: Sometimes it passes through a cave when you don’t see it.

Nipun: Very true.

Nipun: Dada, there is a letter from this young woman's sister-in-law who just a few days ago lost her young husband to a sickness, and she has sent a hand-written letter for you, from Calcutta. "Dear Dada, I humbly bow at your holy feet. Bless me to go from darkness to light. How do I know that what happens is right? Kindly show me the way."

Dada: Not a leaf stirs except it be the will of God. Whatever is happening is happening according to the will of God. People are born because it is the will of God. People die because of the will of God. In fact, there is no death, or what we call death. [Pointing to woman] Her sister-in-law's husband passed away?

Nipun: Yeah.

Dada: Maybe God wanted to give him a promotion. He wanted him to take a higher position -- they should feel happy. Death is really a promotion. We come here on the earthly plane to gain some experiences. It is like a student going from India to America for education. He has only gone to America for education, and your sister-in-law will meet him. She, too, has to go there; she is not an exception. When a person dies, the first experience that he has is, he finds all the relatives, the friends, the acquaintances who knew him when they were on the earth plane, they come to receive him very much like we go and receive somebody at the airport who is coming to a new town.

When he sees all those people, he begins to ask, how have these dead people come, because all along in his consciousness, he thought of them to be dead. It is only after some time that the realization dawns upon him that he, too, belongs to the party of the dead. Death is the greatest illusion from which humanity suffers. It is like moving from one room to another. It is Jesus who said, "In my Father's house are many mansions." This earth is but one mansion.

On the night of the 15th of August, 1886, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa said to be one of the greatest saints of India passed away, after uttering the name Ka-Li, Ka-Li three times. His wife, Sharada-maa, said, "I have become a widow. My husband has passed away; I have no right to wear bangles." She wore ivory bangles, which she had worn when she married. She married when she was about 7 years old. She tried to take them off, but they wouldn’t come off. The wrist had grown considerably.

Finally, she took a hammer, and she said, "With the hammer, I'll break them. I have no right to keep bangles on my arm." She was about to strike when she heard a voice -- it was the voice of Sri Ramakrishna, "Sharada, Sharada." She looked up, and Ramakrishna was there. He said to her, "I am not dead; I have but moved on from one room to another." This is the lesson that every one of us should learn, because this is the greatest illusion from which humanity suffers. I am qualified to learn this lesson, more than every one of you, because as he said -- I didn’t know it -- I was 97 years old.

Nipun: Dada, one last question. If we have been moved by the love that you are a carrier of, what is the greatest offering we can make to connect ourselves with that love, and to carry forward that love, and to be instruments of that unfolding?

Dada: There is only one offering that we can make, only one offering. That is the ego.

Nipun: Beautiful, fantastic. Dada, thank you for your time. I know you have so many things to …

Dada: I should thank you, for taking the trouble of coming all the way.


Posted by Sheetal Sanghvi on Dec 25, 2015

8 Past Reflections