Blessed Satchidananda Atman,
"Asato ma sat gamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, mrityorma amritam gamaya." "sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah, sarve bhadrani pasyantu, ma kaschit duhkhabhagbhavet."
In thus offering you my devout worship and adorations upon this most holy Christmas Day at the command of our divine Master, Satgurudev, I started with two or three Sanskrit prayers and it was with a particular purpose that I opened with these prayers. First I chanted "Asato ma sat gamaya, tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, mrityor ma amritam gamaya." It means "From the unreal, lead us on to the Real. From darkness, lead us on to Eternal Light and from mortality, lead us on to Immortality" and then I followed up with the prayer for cosmic weal, wherein the prayer goes, "sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah." May all be happy. May all be free from diseases. "sarve bhadrani pasyantu, ma kaschit duhkhabhagbhavet." May welfare be unto all. May auspiciousness be unto all. May there be no sorrow to anyone.
It is precisely to bring about this state of universal happiness, goodwill and brotherhood amidst all mankind, and peace all over the earth, it is in order to bring about this state of affairs on earth and to elevate man from this earthly life into a divine life and a higher life of spiritual experience and spiritual realisation, that from time to time great souls who are the incarnated embodiments of the Supreme Divine Spirit, God, come down in the form of men. It is to do this that these great souls come upon the earth and through their lives, their activities and their example, and precepts, they teach man how to bring about these things, how each one can contribute to the sum total of goodness, to the sum total of welfare in the world, and how by living a life of goodness, auspiciousness, love and service, we can transform this life and attain immortality, how we can rise from this life of ignorance and untruth to perennial light and eternity. And the life of Christ is an example of such a lofty life of Lokasangraha, so that the whole of humanity may know the way to eternal existence. He taught us the way to divine perfection and this great soul incarnated upon the earth long, long ago, and because his great divine life was thus lived in order to bring about a transformation not only on the life upon earth but a transformation in the hearts of mankind,it is because he did this work, the world has deified him and adores him even to this day. That is why even thousands of miles away we celebrate here the great Christmas. It is sacred to entire mankind, because Christ came to lead man from darkness to ignorance, from mortality to immortality and from the life of clinging to unreality to a life established in Atmic consciousness.
He took birth in humble surroundings. He was born in a manger, a place where fodder for cattle was kept. He was born of a carpenter. It is as though to bring out the truth that the divine spirit takes birth in that being who is humble, who is pure, who is meek in spirit, in whom there is no pride, it is as though to symbolise this truth he was born in this humble inn, in a manger, and about his lofty life we can give countless sermons, yet we would not reach the limit of his glory and grandeur. But let us recall to our minds a few incidents in the life of Jesus and a few of the precious words that came out of his lips.
One of the parables taught by Jesus is the parable of the sower. The seed that is sown on a rock does not sprout. The seed which is sown on thorns gets choked up and it does not grow. The seed which is sown on a fertile soil sprouts and grows well. It is the ground that makes the seed fruitful. Even so, unless we make the ground of our hearts suitable by acquiring the necessary qualifications, by becoming pure, by generating faith and devotion, unless we do that, all the divine scriptures, all the saints will not be able to do much for us. At least this part of making ourselves suitable vessels, is a thing which is incumbent upon a Sadhaka. Therefore, he who aspires for spiritual realisation, let him remember the parable of the sower and the seeds and try to make himself a fit receptacle for the seeds of spirituality. Only if we do that our life will be fruitful.
Secondly, a beautiful parable that Christ has given which shows the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the parable of Good Samaritan. Our love should not be coloured by selfishness. Christ said, "Love thy neighbour as thyself," and one man asks him, "Who is a neighbour?" He does not answer the question in a direct way, but gives a parable of the good Samaritan and asks the person who put him the question, "Who is the neighbour?" It is the heart full of love, worshipfulness, that determines who is the neighbour. Worshipfulness should be active, purposeful, practical. A man who was an enemy of a person was injured by the robbers, then the man who was supposed to be an enemy, showed the unity of heart actively and practically and showed that he was the real neighbour. And that man had to come to the Kingdom of Heaven, because he had enshrined within himself the same love which indwelt Christ and which made him give up his body upon the cross. That love which made Christ suffer for the sake of people who had never seen him, that love which made Christ wear the crown of thorns that brought blood out of his body, that love is the key to Christ Consciousness and Immortality.
And last, but not least, once again Lord gives us the lofty parable of the virgins with the lamps. It is not a parable which is remembered by all, but it has got a great significance, especially to us, seekers, who are trying to tread the path of Yoga, which is doubtless a hard path, which is a path meant for those alone who have a heart that has got undying faith. The strength of the devotee is not the strength of the muscle, but the strength of faith. Even if the whole solar system will crash and crumble, once he has grasped the hand of the Lord, the Lord will not forsake him. This strength is necessary for our path. I said the story of the virgins to point out how careful we have to be in order to take full advantage of our existence. There were seven virgins. They were waiting for the Lord who was to come. They waited and waited with lamps with them and it became dark, and the Lord did not come. The virgins became sleepy and they fell asleep. They did not take care to replenish the oil in the lamps or to trim the wick. But there was one among them who was very careful. She was very sincere to unite with the Lord. Sincerity is the secret of Yogic life. Other people cannot tell us whether our aspiration is keen enough or not. But sincerely and without partiality we have to find out whether sincerity is there or not. That virgin was ever awake. She was careful, and she trimmed the wick, replenished the lamp with oil and lo! when all other virgins were sleeping, and darkness had come, at that moment, Christ appeared and when He came, one was awake, and he took her unto himself and eternally the soul was united with the oversoul, which is the fruition of Yoga. Blessedness and bliss accrued to that soul. What about others? They never knew when the Lord came. They lamented when they woke up, but their lamentation was of no use. And what does Gurudev tell us? He tells us the same parable. He tells us more forcibly. He says, "Life is short, time is fleeting. Awake, arise and attain the goal. Keep yourself ever ready to meet the Lord. Be up and doing in Yogic Sadhana." Let not a moment pass without effort to reach God. Let us be not like the virgins who feel asleep, but like the virgin who was awake and vigilant and who trimmed the wick, and attained oneness with the Lord.
Above all, what is the greatest parable that Jesus has taught. Even as Swamiji has preached it, there is one greatest among greatest sermon that Christ preached. What is it? His own personal life. How he reacted to his surroundings, what was his purity, what was his wonderful compassion, what was his humility? He was an embodiment of all the gospels that he has given, only in a thousandfold increased measure. The inspiration of that great example is a perennial and living lesson to all of us to keep before our eyes. It is the star that we have to follow. There is no darkness as long as we keep our eyes fixed on the star. By following that star, both men of wisdom and men of faith reach the very abode of Lord. If we keep our eyes fixed upon the great Light which is Jesus, we shall surely attain the Lord, with the blessings of all saints.
Let this be our resolve on this great day that we shall follow the star and attain the Lord.
May God bless you all.