The Glory of Saints
SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
This article is a chapter from the book “Bliss Divine”.
The Nature of a Saint
The Life of a Saint
A Sage Need Not Be a Genius
Saints Have No Caste
Sages Differ in Their Conduct
A Sage Is not Selfish
Do Not Judge a Saint
How to Benefit by the Company of Saints
Saints as Advisers
A saint is a god on earth. To him, the whole world is mere straw. To him, gold and stone are alike. To him, pleasure and pain are the same.
A saint lives in God. He has realized God. He knows God. He has become God. He speaks of God. He shows the way to God. He is God-intoxicated. He is God Himself. He is one with God.
Saints are God’s agents on earth. God reveals Himself in a saint in His full glory, infinite power, wisdom and bliss.
The saints constitute a ladder for the pilgrims to the shrine of God. Wherever saints and sages stay even for a half-second, then and there are sacred places like Varnasi, Prayag and Brindavan.
A saint is a blessing on earth. Saints are the living symbols of religion and are the true benefactors of humanity. Throughout history, saints have played a great part in preserving spiritual values in the world.
A saint is a spiritual washerman. He applies the soap of devotion and knowledge, and removes the spots of sin in worldly people. In his presence, man becomes holy.
The moment the mind thinks of a sage, immediately all evil desires, base passions, are brushed aside. Meditation on the lives of saints is equal to holy company. Study of their teachings is equal to holy company.
To think of saints, to live in their company, to have good fortune of receiving their blessings, is to draw forth upon yourself a shower of purity, inspiration and divine consciousness.
A saint is free from I-ness and mine-ness. He is free from lust, anger, and greed. He loves all beings as his own Self. He is endowed with dispassion and mercy. He speaks the truth and serves all. He ever meditates on the Lord. He does not speak ill of others. He has equal vision. He sees Devi or Mother in all women. He is ever joyful and peaceful. He sings the glory of the Lord. He has divine knowledge. He is fearless and generous. He never begs, but gives. He is majestic and lordly. Such a one is rare in the whole world. He is not easily found. He is not born everywhere.
Love is the very breath of a saint. Mercy is his very nature. His heart overflows with compassion. He does not look to the faults of others. He returns good for evil and blesses those who curse him.
The heart of a sage is a flame of love and his whole being thirsts for the uplift of suffering humanity. He forgets himself utterly and lives but for the sake of others.
A saint sees the whole world as the projection of his own soul. A sage sees unity in diversity. He becomes one with the whole world.
A sage is a youth amongst the youth, aged amongst the old, brave amongst the brave, a child amongst children. He feels the pain and suffering among sufferers.
The life of a saint is plain, simple, and attractive. It is full of grace. It is methodical. A saint is ever of good cheer. He knows no ill of life. To him, life is joy. He experiences no trial of misery. He is fearless. No monarch has sway over him.
The life of a saint is always a life of quiet, of indrawn stillness, of solitude and aloofness. He is untouched by the changes of the world. No external happening can shake him off his balance. He is centred in his own Atman or Absolute Consciousness.
A sage is desireless and so he is ever happy. A king possesses everything and so he is happy. But, the happiness of a sage is infinite, because he lives in his own Atman, the ocean of Brahmic Bliss. A king is full of fears and worries. He is afraid that his enemies will conquer him one day and so he is restless and miserable.
The happiness of a liberated sage is not sensual pleasure. It is Atmic Self-bliss. He enjoys the whole world simultaneously as the Self of all objects. His happiness is not in time. It is transcendental bliss.
A sage alone is really wealthy. Multi-millionaires with cravings and desires are beggars. A saint is superior to an emperor, to Indra, the Lord of heaven.
A sage has awakened from the dream of life. He enjoys eternal bliss. To a sage of illumination, the entire world surrenders.
The sage moves among men, but he is unseen by all men; he is taken by them as an ordinary man.
Only a sage can know a sage. He will sometimes appear like a Sarvajna, an all knower. He will sometimes appear like an Ajnani, an ignorant man. He knows when to act like a Brahma-nishtha and when to behave like a fool. Do not judge him. If you approach him with the proper Bhava, with faith, devotion and spiritual thirst, he will impart the highest knowledge to you. If you approach him with a bad motive, he will behave like a madman and you will be deceived. Great will be your loss then.
A Brahma-jnani or liberated sage need not be a genius. He need not be an eloquent speaker, orator, lecturer or professor. But, he is calm, serene, and tranquil. He is taciturn and silent. His silence is superior eloquence. He has equanimity and balanced mind. He has equal vision. He has Samata and Sama-drishti. He is a Mouni, Maha Mouni, and Muni. He has divine wisdom and intuitive knowledge. In his presence, all doubts are cleared.
There is no caste among saints and sages. A sage is like a lion out of the cage, free from shackles of caste, creed, profession, tradition and scripture. Do not look to the caste of saints and sages. You will not be benefited. You cannot imbibe their virtues. In higher religion, there is neither caste nor creed. Cobblers, weavers, and untouchables had become the best saints.
There is no real difference between a Christian mystic and a Hindu saint. Their sayings never clash. The messages of the saints are essentially the same. They have always been a call to men to discover the Wisdom of the Self or Atman.
Knowledge is the same in all sages, but their conduct is different. Sri Vasishtha was a Karma-kandi; he did Havans and sacrifices. Raja Janaka was a Bhogi; he ruled his dominion; he enjoyed regal pleasures. Sri Dattatreya was a wanderer; he was an Avadhuta, a naked Fakir. Kakabhusundhi was a Yogi. Some even marry.
Sages like Dattatreya and Jadabharata roam about happily. They have neither rooms nor clothing. All dualities have become extinct. They cannot work for the well-being of the world like Raja Janaka and Sri Sankara. But, their mere presence elevates people.
The other type of sage is the benevolent sage – like Raja Janaka and Sri Sankara – who works for the solidarity of the world. He has compassion for all. He writes books, conducts classes, establishes Mutts or Ashrams. You may ask: “Which of the two kinds is superior ?”. The answer is: “Both are on the same level”.
Ignorant people say, “A sage is attempting for his own Self-realization. He is extremely selfish. He is of no use to society”. This is a serious mistake. A sage is the most benevolent superman. He is extremely kind and compassionate. He elevates at once all persons who come in contact with him. Further, he does Sakti-sanchar through his Divya-Drishti. He finds out the deserving aspirants and raises them up through Sankalpa Sakti, even while remaining in a cave or Kutir in the distant Himalayas.
A Jnani is not a selfish man as worldly men think. His spiritual vibrations purify the world. His very life is exemplary and elevating. He gives hope and encouragement to others to tread the spiritual path. He is the only real lover of mankind. He feels the presence of God in everyone. He loves his neighbour as himself. A Jnani only does real selfless service as he feels the presence of God in all beings. He is the real altruist and humanitarian.
You cannot apply the worldly yardstick to measure the greatness of the saints. Do not superimpose defects on them on account of your evil eye. You cannot judge their merits.
Brahma-nishtha are like fire. They can consume anything. Their very touch purifies everything. They are beyond good and bad; they are themselves the supreme good. Do not imitate their actions. Their actions are strange and mysterious. They are beyond your intellect. If you commit theft and say, “Did not Krishna steal butter ?”, you will be hopelessly ruined. Krishna lifted up the Govardhana Hill with His little finger. Can you lift even a big stone with all your strength ? Follow the Upadesa of saints and Mahapurushas; you will attain Brahma-Jnana here and now.
HOW TO BENEFIT BY THE COMPANY OF SAINTS
To benefit from the company of saints, you have to prepare yourself first. Do not go with any preconceived notion or prejudice. Go with an open, receptive mind. Go without expectations. Approach them humbly and respectfully. Assimilate what appeals to you. If some of their teachings do not appeal to you, do not form a hasty opinion. If you do not like them, you need not take them to heart. What may be suitable to another may not be suitable to you. Yet, with regard to broad fundamentals, there can be no difference of opinion.
When you go before a sage, do not ask him questions out of mere inquisitiveness. Sit in his presence humbly. Observe him. Listen to him without prejudice. Ask him only such questions about which you really need clarifications. Ask him only pertinent questions. Do not draw him into politics or public bickering.
Meditate in the presence of a sage. You will get inner light which will clear your doubts.
The very company of sages and saints has a tremendous transforming effect on the lives of true seekers. It lifts them up to heights of sublimity, purity and spirituality. It does not fail to affect even the rank materialists.
Every school, every college, every boarding house, every jail, every institution, every house should have a saint for the guidance of its members.
Saints and sages only can become real advisers to the kings, because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They only can improve the morality of the masses. They only can show the way to attain eternal bliss and immortality. Shivaji had Swami Ramdas as his adviser. King Dasaratha had Maharishi Vasishtha as his adviser.
Saints are in abundance. You do not want them. You do not wish to approach them. You do not wish to serve them. You do not aspire for higher things. You are perfectly satisfied with some broken shells and glass-pieces. There is no thirst or spiritual hunger in you for achieving higher divine knowledge and inner peace.
Spiritual opportunity is a rare privilege. Do not lose such opportunities. Take recourse to the company of sages and saints. One moment of company with the Holy builds a ship to cross this ocean of life.
God is the great purifier. A saint also is a great purifier. God incarnates as saints and sages when their need is felt most.
Study the lives of saints. You are inspired at once. Remember their sayings. You are elevated immediately. Walk in their footsteps. You are freed from pain and sorrow.
Seek the company of sages and evolve. Satsang with sages is unfailing in its results.