What did Adi Sankaracharya sing? He said Ma kuru dhana jana yauvana garvam Harati nimishat kalat sarvam Mayamayam idam akhilam hitva Brahma padam tvam pravisha viditiva. He said, “Don’t be too proud and arrogant about your wealth, all the relationships, the network that you have, the youth – it means a healthy body- that you have. In moment, Time can take it all away without you realising that all this was there. Therefore, knowing that the entire thing is an illusion – this illusion of arrogance, pride – it is all illusion; it can be taken away in a moment. Knowing that, take refuge at the feet of God.” This is what Adi Sankaracharya said. Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam mudha mate. “O foolish man! Remember God because everything else will disappear in no time. Don’t be too proud and arrogant about all these accumulations because these all can be taken away by time within a moment.”

So that is the situation that the world has been brought to think about. How much ever it is told in a sweet, nice way, man has this typical arrogance of not paying attention to good things. But when a hard blow is dealt, then everybody sits up and listens. That is the situation that the world is finding itself in. Everybody knows what is right, what is wrong. But till the wrong becomes so overwhelming that it harms you, we don’t realise that we are doing wrong. So therefore, I just met a few devotees. They were all worried. And then I said, see, it is a cycle of life. And it will go on and on. As Narasimha Murthy just said, “Earth has been there for millions of years. Human beings appeared later. Human beings may disappear also.” The way we are living, we are actually disappearing fast now under some pretext or the other. Though today there is a virus that is the main issue, but people are disappearing because of bad food habits, blood pressure, cancer, or all kinds of other diseases. So there have been problems. And it is time to think how we are living. Are we living in the right way?

Again Adi Sankaracharya tells, how do we live in this world knowing that the world is illusory, knowing that this arrogance doesn’t help, knowing that all this can be taken away in a moment, you take refuge at the feet of God. But how do we live in this world when we take refuge? Tyaja durjana samsargam Bhaja sadhu samagamam Kuru punyam aho ratram Smara nityam anityatam. “Give up the company of bad people.” Bad people means those who do not follow the Dharmic path, the true right path. What is Dharma? To do good is Dharma. If you do good in life, you are following your Dharma. As human beings, you are supposed to be doing good. Paropakarartham idam shareeram. Body has not been given to eat and enjoy and ultimately die. It is given to do good. So when we do good, that is Kuru punyam ahoratram. Keep doing good day in, day out. Day and night keep doing good is what Adi Sankaracharya advises. Give up the company of the bad people – those who don’t follow Dharma – don’t go into their path. Join the company of the good, who are doing good to the world. Night and day do good deeds. Always be mindful, remind yourself of what is real and what is unreal, what is permanent and what is impermanent.

This is what is going to help us live as better human beings in this world. That is what will make us deserving of a place on this planet earth. So that is what the whole thing is being driven to. You learn it well when it is being told nicely or else you have to go through a hard lesson. Now we are going through a hard lesson.

So I heard that lot of positives have also come out. What is the positive? I was told that many people are contemplating vegetarianism. I have been shouting from the top of the mountain, vegetarianism is good. Gone are the days you lived in caves and hunted animals. But now we are living in air-conditioned apartments, no more hunting animals, why should animals be killed for our food? Everything has changed – the way we dress, we move around, we stay, we do our things has all changed. Then why animals should be killed for our food. There are better ways to have food. So why don’t we contemplate on some better means without harming anyone? Punyam that is. What did Vyasa say? Ashtadasha puraneshu Vyasasya vachanadvayam Paropakaraya punyaya papaya parapidanam. After 18 Puranas, Vyasa concluded that the only essence of all the 18 Puranas is to do good is Punyam, to hurt anybody is Papa. To help is Punyam – Paropakara ya punyaya papaya parapidanam, When you hurt anybody, it is not Punyam, it is Papam. That is what he says. It is wrong. It is not good. It is not Dharma. Then somebody may say, “But the tiger is hunting and eating. What about that?” That is tiger’s Dharma. That is how tiger has been created. You are not a tiger. Are you a tiger? Then I will inform the zoo people. They will catch you and put you in a cage. You are human; so behave like human. As he said, “Plants live like plants; they have not become animals. Animals have not become plants. But human being has become animal.” Only wild animals have to eat by killing. Others don’t have to. We don’t have to. It is not necessary. When it is not necessary to harm anyone for our own life, then why we should be harming anybody? So some thought is going in that may be this may not be the right way of living. May be there is another way of living. That is what we said. Live in a way that you don’t harm anyone in the process. Neither by your thought, nor by your word, nor by your deeds. Ahimsa paramo dharma. Greatest of all Dharma is Ahimsa means non-violent. Not even in thought we are hurting anyone, forget about deed.

I don’t know whether I should tell this or not but let Me tell you without telling people’s name. You don’t go and quote Me here and there. So I went to one Yajna. In that Yajna, the priest told Me, “Swamiji,” – they had Yajna going on. They had kept two dolls, two horses on the two ends of the Yajna. It is a very specific Yajna. Very few people only know about it. So two horses dolls were kept. I asked, “Why these horses are kept here? Doll horses.” He told, “Actually as per the original rule, we have to keep real horses on both ends – one white horse and one black horse. But because horses are very expensive – two lac rupees – so I have got these dolls and kept. And spiritually we are thinking that these are two horses which are as good as real horses.” I said, “Okay, that is a good thing. No problem. As long as in your heart of heart you believe that you really have…Spiritual aspect is more important than ritual, I always say. Okay. All right.” After the Yajnam got over, he called Me aside and said, “Swamiji, we have to sacrifice one goat also for this Yajnam. But I will do this after you leave because if You are here, people will misunderstand. So once You leave in the night we will sacrifice a goat.” Then I asked, “Why do you want to sacrifice a goat?” “That is a part of the rule that we have to sacrifice a goat.” Then I told, “You get a doll goat and sacrifice the doll goat. Why you want to sacrifice a real goat?” He started arguing with Me, “No, no, no. As per rules we have to sacrifice a real goat.” I told, “As per rules you didn’t get horses. Then as per rules, how can you sacrifice goat?” Anyway I did not win the argument. That is a different story but see how conveniently man leads his life. Right? Horses are expensive; forget, we will get a doll and manage. Goats are cheap. So I told, “The animal qualities should be sacrificed. Not animals have to be sacrificed.”

Once Buddha was going. I am talking about Buddha’s times you see when too much of ritual was going on even in Indian culture and they were forgetting the spiritual component of this whole thing. So when Buddha was going somebody was taking one animal to be sacrificed. So Gautam Buddha went to the village he used to go and asked, “What is going on?” They said, “We are going to sacrifice this animal.” So Buddha said, “Why do you want to sacrifice the animal?” “No, no. If you sacrifice the animal, the animal will go to heaven.” He said, “Oh! Then you should sacrifice yourself. You can go to heaven as well.” We don’t want to go to heaven. But animal has to go to heaven.

Your stomach is not a tomb of animals. It is a temple of God. Deham devalayam prokto jivo deva sanatanaha. Body is the temple of God and the indweller is God Himself. It is not a burial ground of animals. Not tomb of animals. So that is the idea of Ahimsa. For whatever reason, if it is was possible to avoid, let us avoid hurting anyone. Anybody, however small, just because somebody is weaker than us, that does not give us the authority to harm them. In fact, our strength is in protecting the weak not in harming the weak. The true strong person is the one who protects the weak, protects the meek, the mild because they cannot protect themselves. It is not about showing your strength on those and harming them to prove your supremacy or strength. That is not right. So I go on telling. This is not from now. From the beginning, don’t kill animal for food, don’t kill animal for food. What can I do? I can only tell. I can’t get into people’s homes and stop it. They have their own reasons. But them what happens? There is a power greater than all human power. What is the human…One day a devotee asked, “Swami, I have lot of ego. How to get rid of it?” I said, “Sit down for a moment and think.” Okay, now let us think. We are all sitting in this Premamrutham Hall. This hall Premamrutham is in Muddenahalli Grama. Muddenahalli is in Chikkaballapur town, Zilla. Chikkaballapur is in Karnataka. Karnataka is in the map of India, one state. India is one country in the whole of the world. Earth is but one planet in the whole of the solar system. Solar system is one system in the whole of the galaxies – Milky Way. Milky Way is one galaxy in the larger, supreme universe. You think of your size as a human being. What are you? You are nothing. Even a thought, a contemplation of this thought should help us get rid of all our arrogance.

So this virus has taught us a good lesson. It has crushed the arrogance of the mighty, the rich, the powerful, the knowledgeable. You see? Nobody is saved. I was telling the rich are more in trouble because the poor people did not travel to all parts of the world. They couldn’t afford flight tickets. They were happily living in their villages.  The rich are the ones who are travelling all around for business, commerce, for tourism, entertainment. They are the ones who are suffering. So in a way it is a wake-up call. Look at the positive side of things. Yes, the negative side is there. People are losing lives and we should feel sorry for that and we should pray for that, we cannot just say, “It is their Karma,” and then keep quiet, that is not right. Then that is our Karma that we did not pray for them. Let us pray that people understand how to deal with it. Let us pray that a medicine, a cure comes up quickly which helps those who are in need. But more importantly, let us pray that we all start living as human beings. Humanity – the compassion, the kindness should drive our lives. Kindness to everyone. Jiva karunya. Even for a small ant there should be compassion. And for our pleasure, let us not be causing harm to anyone. See, I would be very happy if this whole episode turns at least half the world into vegetarianism. I will be very very happy. I was told because I keep getting update from all the people who are so concerned about My health more than anybody’s health, “Swami, don’t go here. Don’t meet these people. Don’t go to any country.” I said, “All right.” They are telling Me that now there is a general governments are closing down such kind of places where animals are sold for food. It is a big business. It is being closed down because of the fear of this. I said, that is Mother Nature’s way of balancing itself. We all have read in science how balance of nature happens, how that ecology. When grass grows too much, then deer appear on the scene, they eat all the grass; when deer grow too much, the lions come and eat up the deer. Deer get over, lions starve and die, then grass grows again. So nature knows how to balance itself. So it will know how to balance itself. We are nothing in front of the force of nature. So Ma kuru dhana jana yauvana garvam that we can control. All our knowledge, all our wealth, all the stock markets, all the military equipment nothing could stand one small virus which is not even seen to the eye. Look at that. Look at the irony. It is not a huge military set up that we are fighting against. It is not some aliens that we are fighting against. It is not the highest technological warfare that is going on. It is one tiny virus unseen that has changed the perspective. All our wealth, all our knowledge, all our military might nothing is able to stand this. The only thing that will stand is if we change ourselves and become better human beings. That alone will save the human race. Otherwise we have to learn our lessons the hard way.

So this generation which has never seen a pandemic, this generation thinks life goes on and on and on. On Tabs and TVs. They don’t realise that there is the other side to life too. And for them it is a great great episode because some children are asking, “Why did the virus come?” And then somebody answered, “Because it has come from animals.” “Why did animal virus get into humans?” “Because we ate those animals.” “Oh. Why did we eat animals? It is not good to eat animals.” “Yes, it is not good to eat those animals.” A generation has learnt a new lesson. “Oh, we should not eat animals because we can get this virus.” At least out of fear, they have learnt that they have to remain clean, remain hygienic, you should be concerned about each other. Just because we are sitting on one end of the boat and the hole is on the other end, we cannot sit happy. ‘That is the other end of the boat.’ Hole is a hole in the boat. Everybody will sink. Today one country has suffered. Everybody is suffering. Isn’t it why our culture prayed, Samasta loka sukhino bhavantu? Because they knew, if I pray for my happiness alone, I cannot be happy. Only when the whole world is happy can I be happy. Today is that Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha sarve santu niramayaha when we pray. Let everybody be healthy. Why? Because everybody’s health is going to affect our health. If somebody is unhealthy in some country in some corner, today or tomorrow that thing will come to us too. That is why our culture prayed – Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha Sarve santu nirmaya Sarve bhadrani pashyantu Only if everybody leads happy lives, healthy lives and does what is good everywhere can there be Ma kaschid dukha mapnoyat. Nobody will have any sorrow. Sorrow of that little ant also is a sorrow.

In Mahabharata, Vyasa was in a very difficult situation because both sides were his family only. Kauravas were also his, Pandavas were also his. So the war was going to begin and he was rushing to sit and watch what is going to happen. And that time as he was passing a small insect was crawling and running very fast. And Vyasa stopped and asked that insect, “Why are you running so fast?” “Oh you don’t know? Arjuna’s chariot is going to pass this way. I may get crushed under the chariot.” And Vyasa laughed and said, “What if you die? How does it matter even if you die? Who is going to cry if you die?” And the insect got very angry. He told Vedavyasa, “You think you only have a family? You only have a wife and children? I also have my wife. I have children. They are waiting for me at home. How can you demean me like this?” Then Vyasa realised, “Ah, this is the Ahara nidra bhaya maithunam cha samanyametat pashu bhir naranam. These four things are common – to eat to your taste, to sleep restfully, fear of deaths, to reproduce. These are common between animals and men. They also have a family – wife, children. They need to eat, sleep. They are afraid of death and diseases and dangers. If that is all that human beings we are doing, we are no better than animals. Dharmo hi eko adhiko visheshaha dharmo vihinam pashubhir samanaha So those who follow Dharma alone are human beings. All others are not.” Today unfortunately everybody is following their Dharma. Even an insect in cow-dung also follows its Dharma of doing what it needs to do to further turn that cow-dung into manure. But we as human beings have forgotten our Dharma. And that is why Dharmo vihinam pashubhir samanaha also we should not say because that is an insult to the Pashus who are actually following more Dharma than us. We are not following our Dharma. And that is where we are suffering. There are many kinds of suffering. This is one kind that we are suffering. But this is a good wake-up call where we pray for everybody’s welfare. Definitely prayers have the power to change people’s minds, attitudes, to purify the place, to protect. So pray sincerely. Whoever it might be, whether they did right or wrong it is immaterial. They are suffering today. We must pray for their welfare. That should be our attitude, first.

Second thing, you be cautious. You don’t do things which will lead you to such kind of things. You be careful, you be cautious. What you eat, where you go, whom you meet, what you see, what you hear, taste, smell. Everything is food. Not just animals are food. What you hear is food. What you see is food. What you touch is food. What you smell is food. What you taste is food. So be careful about whatever goes inside you because this virus may be a physical, biological virus. There are so many other viruses that get inside through our ears by listening to the wrong thing, by listening to gossips, by listening to false rumours. That is also virus that destroys us. By seeing wrong, by touching wrong. All these are kind of diseases that get inside us. So we must protect ourselves from all those diseases also not just blame on the food that we eat through our mouths. So Tyaja durjana sansargam Bhaja sadhu samagamam Kuru punyam ahoratram Smara nityam anityatam. Don’t be too possessive about the things of this world. You can’t take one thing back with you. Alexander the Great when he left, he told, “Keep my both hands out of the coffin so that everybody sees that though I have conquered the world, I am going empty-handed.” So don’t harm anyone for the sake of your own greed. That is why I said, the worse virus than Corona virus is the greed virus which has spread so badly that people are not able to think. So much talk about this virus because it is hurting the rich. Hunger is hurting the poor. Thousands die every day because of hunger. For that, food is there. Corona virus does not have a medicine. But hunger has a medicine called food. What are we doing about it? Are we even talking about it? There are hundreds and thousands. Even when we visited the hospital, every year 250,000 children in India are born with congenital heart diseases. And the reason for it is largely anaemic mothers, malnutrition, poorly formed children in the womb. And we are doing something about it. That is definitely far more number than these 8,000 who have died or 150,000 people who have been diagnosed. It is far bigger number, isn’t it? If just one country like India 250,000 children are born every year, not even 25,000 get their treatment. The rest all are doomed to die today or tomorrow. And year and year this number gets piled up. Two-and-a-half lac, two-and-a-half lac. There are millions of children in India who are living with heart problems who cannot walk, who cannot talk, who cannot speak, who cannot go to school, who cannot do anything. And what have we done about it as governments, as society, as intellectuals, as individuals? How much have we paid attention to something like that? What I am saying is that there are many many more problems in the world because of our own doing, our own mistake of our greed, our selfishness has caused this problem in the world. Unfortunately, we don’t talk about them because they are poor people’s problem. And this Corona virus is whichever way you call, it is a rich people’s problem. Rich in the sense, this is not for those who are below poverty line. This is definitely for people who are above poverty line, who are going around, meeting people, doing what? Whatever they need to. So the world needs far bigger re-thinking. Every human must go back within. This is a good time to get into thinking where I am going right and wrong as a human, as a family, as a society, as a country and as the world, as humanity as a whole, where are we making our mistakes? Can we sit back, think about it and correct it? So it is only going to get better. I think it is definitely better. Somebody told Me, “Swami, there is no pollution. The pollution level of the world has come down drastically because everybody is at home.” The environment is becoming better because we are not harming anyone. The bush-fires in Australia have disappeared because the temperature has come down because no pollution for so many days. So all things are improving. See, there is a positive side to it also. And most important positive side is if we learn our lesson as human beings and not do wrong any more, for the sake of our pleasure, let us not harm anyone, however small that harm may be, it is a harm to them. And therefore, not harming nature, not harming animals, not harming other human beings, not harming the weak, the poor, the helpless for our own benefit should be the way of a human being. That is the Dharma and Dhara iti iti Dharma Only that which bears this whole earth is Dharma. And that Dharma when it goes, Dharmo rakshati rakshataha The one who protects Dharma is protected by Dharma. The one who harms Dharma, Dharma only will harm them. That is the rule of the universe. Nobody can change it. Not even God can change that rule.

So let us be conscious as human beings that we have far greater responsibility to lead a good life on this planet and help everyone and not harm anyone for our own sake. If we begin there, definitely a generation or two down the line, humanity will look much better than what it is today. Let us leave behind that kind of a legacy for the coming generations to lead a pure life, good life, a life full of non-violence, a life with compassion and kindness for every creature. Let that be the lesson from this. This is a part…Some people are very afraid. This is just a cycle. It will come, it will go up, it will go down. And thousands of such cycles have come and gone for the earth. So it is not going to change much of it. It may harm a few people’s interests. And that is sad. But we cannot help it because that is a lesson that has to be learnt. We all will learn this lesson together. That should be our way.

So once again praying for welfare of all Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha sarve santu niramayah Sarve bhadrani pashyantu Ma kaschid dukha mapnoyat. With this prayer, we should daily think this way, pray this way and I am sure these problems will disappear in no time. But definitely the lessons should remain with us forever.