Sheikh Raunqi Ram had a blithe disposition.  For long, he had benefited from the august company of learned seers, sages and ascetics.   Sometimes he would spend months together with a learned one, whose wisdom impressed him.

Once when Sheikh Raunqi Ram returned home after a long time, he felt the urge to meet his childhood friend, Mann Singh.  The town had changed a lot since his last visit which had been years back. In place of Mann Singh’s humble old house, there stood an elegant bungalow.  For once Sheikh Raunqi Ram hesitated, thinking that he had come to the wrong place, but the name plate at the gate assured him, that he was right.  “Dr. Mann Singh” read the shining brass letters on the name plate.

The childhood friends were elated to meet each other after such a long time. The vivid memories of the good old days were revived and recaptured. Sheik was delighted to see his dear friend’s accomplishment. He had found a place in the list of ‘intellectuals’ of the area.

With Sheikh Raunqi Ram being a part of the discussion, the conversation obviously turned towards the philosophy of life.  Sheikh was ill at ease to notice that Mann Singh was going over board in trying to weigh God on the scale of logic. It appeared that he had turned into a sort of an atheist.  With great vehemence, he was trying to dole out logics, one after the other, to disprove the existence of the God, thereby deriving the pride and pleasure of ego-satisfaction.

He went to the extent of challenging Sheikh Raunqi Ram to prove the existence of God saying, “Believing in God, till you prove his existence, is nothing but a sign of intellectual bankruptcy.”

Sheikh was perturbed but also amused.

“Is God a substance which can be held within the confines of intellect?  Is the intellect proficient enough to comprehend the very source to which it owes its origin?  Can one ride his own shoulders?”

However, to make the matter light, Sheikh said, “Ok.  Let us think of something merrier. Let us go out and enjoy in the lap of nature.”

Mann Singh agreed.  His children were more than thrilled. Snacks and all other necessary ingredients for the picnic were eagerly put together, and the group rolled out in Mann Singh’s car.

The destination was a beautiful Mango orchard on the banks of a canal.  Wading through the mango trees, the frolicking party moved towards the canal bank. The children had brought a ball with them.  The whole ambience was good enough to bring out the hidden child in everyone -“Let us play ball”, said Sheikh Raunqi Ram jokingly to Mann Singh.  “One of us will throw the ball and the other will catch it. Let us see, who wins.”

The game was getting interesting, especially for the children, who were amused to see elders playing like them.

But then came the dampener. The ball tossed up by Sheikh Raunqi Ram got stuck into the dense branches of a mango tree. Stones were hurled and attempts made to shake the branches, but to no avail. The ball won’t budge.  Attempts were made for a few minutes. However, after all the tricks in the bag of children were exhausted, it was decided to abandon the ball and move further.

The day was full of fun and frolic.  The relaxing bath in the cool canal water was followed by a relaxed chat, just about everything under the sun, interspersed with delicious snacks brought along.

The group started marching back to the car, through the same Mango orchard.  As was obvious, the group halted, as they reached the tree that had caught their ball. Looking up towards the entrapped ball, Mann Singh suddenly said, “Raunqi, I will start believing in your God, if the ball comes down just now, on its own.”

Taking Mann Singh’s remark lightly, Sheikh Raunqi Ram started laughing.  However, the happening that followed, left every one amazed.

A swift blow of wind blew, and the ball dropped to the ground, unexpectedly.

Mann Singh was dazed.

“Well!” said Sheikh, jokingly, “Turned a believer?”

“No, No,” retorted a stupefied Mann Singh, “That was just a coincidence.  A grave subject like existence of God cannot be taken that lightly. ”

“All right! We will talk later!” said Sheikh, and the group moved on.

However, the discussion was resumed as soon they reached home.

“You must have thought”, the Sheikh picked up the thread, “that the ball will not come down on its own, and you will have another chance to deny the existence of God. But the creation does not function according to your fancy.  There is much more beyond the mind and the intellect.”

“This reminds me”, continued the Sheikh, “of an incident.  An atheist said that he would start believing in the existence of God, if a person survives even after falling down from a five-storeyed building. On this, a believer told him that this had actually happened in his town. The atheist didn’t quite disagree, but didn’t agree either. “This could have been a coincident”, he said, “I would believe, if he survives a similar accident, once again.”  “This has also happened”, replied the determined believer. “He must have fallen on soft surface”, the atheist was adamant “I would believe in God if a person survives in similar situation, yet again, for the third time.”   “All right”, said the believer “so would you believe in existence of God, if a person survives such a calamity for the third time?”  “Stop it now”, retorted the inflexible stubborn atheist angrily, “how does that prove the God’s existence. If a person survives so many times, it simply means that he is well trained and experienced in taking high altitude jumps.”

“Mann Singh, some people would never believe, whatever the logic, in existence of God”, said Sheikh Raunqi Ram smilingly, “and you are one of them.”

Mann Singh replied in a philosophically satirical tone. “One’s dexterity is a result of his hard work. The one who makes efforts is bound to progress. Greater the cerebral activity, greater is the advancement.  One should perform his duty nobly, and serve the society. Now what does the God have to with it?”

“A lot”, said Raunqi Ram, “God has a lot to do with it.  Belief in God is necessary to be able to act, to be noble.”

“Now, now!” Mann Singh was not willing to accept, “I am not a taker for this argument, unless you support it with solid logic.”

“All right”, said Sheikh Raunqi Ram, glad to have got a base to present his conviction. “People may do noble deeds only for showing off, even to denigrate others, or may be for their selfish interests too or just to impress others.  But to perform noble deeds, you have to be truly noble first. Just as to perform monetary acts, you have to have money or to perform jobs requiring strength you need to be strong yourself.”

Sheikh Raunqi Ram’s logic had begun to seep into Mann Singh’s mind, but he was still sceptic. “But to be truly noble, it is not necessary to believe in God. Should we become noble simply due to fear of chastisement, or simply for the allurement of going to heaven? If we can justify our urge to be noble on these counts, then what is wrong in doing noble deeds even for gratification of self?”

“First you should know what is the true manifestation of God.” Sheikh was now moving towards the finer part, “In fact, God is that eternal spring and manifestation of Energy, Consciousness and Bliss, having established connection with which, a soul can never be a seeker of the worldly indulgences. Worldly attractions and repulsions (raga dvesha), cannot stand before him. He cannot even think of doing any thing unfair, because having been connected to that supreme consciousness, he himself assumes the mantle of that blissful manifestation.

Still not convinced, Mann Singh continued with his argument. “All right, even if we assume the God to be so, how do you explain, why there are so many believers who are full of vices, and so many atheists, so full of virtues?”

Sheikh was getting really serious now. “Just saying, that I believe in God is not enough. One has to relate to God, connect with God.  A man covered with snow cannot warm himself up, simply by saying, ‘I believe fire is hot’. On the other hand a person who is a little farther from the snow, but nearer to fire, will be much warmer, even if he is not chanting ‘Fire!, Fire!’. Similarly, the so called atheist may be nearer to God, and the so called believer may be a captive of his own ego.”

Mann Singh appeared a little confused, although Sheikh Raunqi Ram’s logic set his thoughts rolling. “I don’t get it. Even if God exists how one can feel connected to him, without knowing or even without believing in him.”

This question somewhat excited Sheikh Raunqi Ram. “I think curiosity is germinating in your mind. You really have the will to learn. So listen carefully.  You do not have to touch the skies, to connect yourself with God.  Nor do you need to undergo seclusion in forests or even in the confines of your house. No doubt, God is omnipresent, but he will reveal you within yourself only. He is present within you.”

“Nothing new in this logic. I have been hearing it for ages”, Interrupted Mann Singh, “If God is present within me, why am not able to feel his presence. I cannot see him if I close my eyes.  I cannot hear him even if I close my ears, stopping the incursion of any outer sound. Why no one has photographed God in such an advanced world, where the images of even miniscule particles have been taken by the advanced cameras.”

Amused, Sheikh smiled and replied, “You are right.  Such a great power is hiding within you, and you are not even aware of this. This is indeed astonishing.  But just come to think of it- that not even the most advanced complex computer in the world, can ever equal the prowess of the human brain; that no machine, however advanced, can match the perfection and efficiency of the human body, manufacturing blood, bones, tissues, enzymes et al; it is not possible even to conceive of making a machine so wonderful, flawless like the human body, with all emotion, intelligence, strength, and uniformity.”

For a moment Mann Singh was speechless, but then he retorted, “All this is fine. But all these are the special characteristics of human nature. Why only human beings. This is true of millions of other plants and animals too. This is a part of the natural routine. But how does this argument prove the existence of God?”

The Sheikh was serious, “All these arguments are not meant to prove the existence of the God who is different from you or one who is positioned across time and distance. I reiterate that God is within your self. Seek him there and there alone.”

“In fact”, continued Sheikh, “God is not an entity different from your self. You yourself are God. All I can say is that you are an integral part of God. You do not need to prove your existence. You are, therefore you are.”

Now Mann Singh jumped to grab the moment, “Now this is totally illogical. How can I, or that matter any other human being be God? No believer must have ever imagined that an ignorant being, entangled in the cycle of birth and death, can be God himself. Even an atheist, while negating the existence of God, does not imagine God as a mortal being. This perception of yours, about God, itself negates the existence of God.  No further argument can help now. It is time we stopped this discussion here.”

“On the contrary”, said an elated Sheikh, “In fact it is now, that the real discussion has started.  Logics, based on illusory experiences woven by the mind, cannot be taken as being decisive in establishing God-ly principles.  ‘You are God’, is one such solemn principle, which relates to God, the creation and the being; a principle which carries in its womb the seeds of resolution of all skepticism.”

Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Tvam Asi, Aymatma Brahma, and Pragyanam Brahma”, Sheikh continued in his somber tone, “these four Mahavakyas or the ‘Grand Pronouncements’ or similar edicts in other languages of the world, proclaim, ‘Thou art that’. You and God are but one and the same entity.”

“However”, continued the Sheikh, “I will not go into elaboration of the scriptural proclamations. I will just narrate an anecdote, which made me realize the essence of these mahavakyas, and resolved all my doubts. The doubts expressed by you, once troubled my mind too. But I am through with them now.”

Mann Singh was getting curious.

“Once I was staying in a captivating Ashram near Gangotri.  Not only was the place calm and sacred, the residents thereof were also truly pious.  In their august presence, discussions would be held regarding the soul, God and other spiritual substances. However, the deep vedantic discussions usually flew over my head.  I was ever doubtful, about how could I, embedded in a mortal bone-and-flesh structure, be God.”

“One hot and sunny day, one of the mahatmas was meditating on the Banks of the holy Ganga. I seated myself near his feet. The mahatma, with an affectionate glance on me, gave me a kamandlu (a small vessel with a handle usually carried by mahatmas). “Get some Gangajal (the holy water of Ganga). We will begin our discussions after we quench our thirst.  As desired by him, I went and brought back the kamandlu filled with Gangajal.

To my surprise, the mahatma did not drink the water brought by me.  Holding the kamandlu in one hand, he started rebuking me.  “Which pond have you brought this water from? This is not Gangajal!”   “It is, Mahatmaji”, I said reverently. “I have brought it from the Ganga only.”

“How can that be?” said the mahatma seriously.  “How can that be Gangajal? The water of Ganga is always roaring, flowing with a speed so high that even the heaviest of boulders are forced to flow along. And this water”, he said, pointing towards the kamandlu, “is so calm and quite, that it cannot even come out of the confines of this small kamandlu, leave alone flowing the boulders. How can this be Gangajal?”

I was startled, staring blankly at the Mahatma’s face. What has happened to him? What does he want to say? With all humility I replied, “Undoubtedly, this is Gangajal. There is no difference between this water and that, be it confined to this small kamandlu or that roaring torrent flowing in the broad and deep river bed. Just sip both, and you will find both to be equally cool, sweet and refreshing.”

The Mahatma drank the water from the kamandlu, and after sitting quietly for a few moments turned towards me.  “So, Sheikh, do you get the point? There is no difference between the water that is confined to a small vessel, and that flowing with a roaring speed. Both are the same. Similarly, beyond doubt, you are also that all pervading God, who has confined himself to a small mortal body.  He is same omnipotent, omnipresent accomplished God, which sustains and drives this creation.”

Sheikh Raunqi Ram was narrating his story.  His thoughts were now beginning to grow over and around Mann Singh’s being.

“I replied”, continued the Sheikh, “the illustration given by you is quite logical, but still I am not able to comprehend, if I am the Omnipotent parmatma (God) then why do I feel the suffering? Why does the parmatma in me experience the emotions like sorrow and despair? Can the God ever be sorrowful? The water in the Kamandlu and that in the mighty Ganga should have the same sweetness and coolness, if not the same speed and power.”

The mahatma answered coolly, “The basic attributes of water are coolness and purity. Similarly, the basic nature of parmatma is joy and tranquility. However, the river water, on being cut off from the main river, stagnates as a pond; it gets contaminated due to the effect of its surroundings and even starts stinking.  Similarly, the being (who is nothing but parmatma confined in a mortal body and thus separated from the main flow), beginning to believe himself  as a body made up of bones and flesh etc. gets shadowed with sorrow. He begins to see himself as an ignorant, disappointed, confined being. However, just as the pond water can never get stale if it is connected with a flowing source, the ‘being’ will always remain immune to sorrow and despair, if he continues to be aware of and connected with the eternal truth  that ‘I am God’ flow.”

“What is meant by remaining ‘connected to the eternal truthful flow’?” – Sheikh continued, “I asked the mahatma. Is there a special way of doing so?”

“The best way is”, replied the mahatma, “that one should have complete belief in oneself, that ‘I am an integral part of parmatma. Every being takes oneself to be something or someone, because he is. No one can ever, experience the extermination of one’s being. One is always aware of one’s identity in all the three states of wakefulness, dreams or sleep (jagriti, swapna or nidra). In the innermost core of the body, knowingly or unknowingly, one is always remains connected to one’s source, the pure supreme blissful inner radiance, the parmatma. This core is called by some, as the brahmrandhra or the focal point of dashamdwar, the arcane ‘tenth opening’. The corollary of awakening one’s consciousness at this point is the divine blissful experience of “I am God”. Even if one does not reach to the point of witnessing this experience, the firm conviction of being connected to that focal point, can also be of immense help.”  Saying thus, the mahatma glided into meditation.”

I deliberated extensively on his words so full of wisdom.   It is no one but myself  who is the originator of thoughts  like ‘I am sad’, ‘I am  foolish’, ‘I will be noble’, ‘ I will do good deeds’, etc. These thoughts are originated by me. Why don’t I see my being as being different and separate from these thoughts? These thoughts ripple off from my own consciousness. Why shouldn’t I enthrone myself in the seat of my consciousness, distinct from these thoughts? Why don’t I install myself at the very source of these ripples? Musing thus, I started rising above all thoughts, all musing, all questions.  I had now occupied a slot, beyond the boundaries of the body, where there were no questions, no answers, no anxiety, and no explanations. I was aloft, experiencing blissful ecstasy. I went again to the mahatma and narrated to him the state I was in.  Visibly glad he said, “Keep up this musing. Try to maintain this state even when moving around.”

Sheikh’s elated oration continued, “That day onwards, I am a totally transformed man; ever connected with the main-stream (parmatma). The whys and wherefores about God bother me no more.  The one, who has realized ‘I am the Brahma, the God’, is a liberated soul.   I go on spreading this message.  How wonderful, how amazing! Brahma, even in fetters, Brahma even when liberated!  Brahma, when fragmented, Brahma even when unified.  Liberated within own-self. Aham Brahmasmi!

Mann Singh was all ears.  Sheikh Raunqi Ram sat silently for sometime.  The spell of quietness was broken by Mann Singh’s softly asked question, “Your point is well taken, my friend, but I still have some doubts.  I am still not fully convinced.”

“Go ahead”, said the Sheikh, anxious to put to rest all misgivings of Mann Singh.

“Agreed”, Mann Singh began, “that Truthful Bliss is my real self.  However, even if I am absolved of my miseries, by virtue of realization of this truth, I cannot be contented. What kind of God am I, who is bled by miseries and sorrows.  Until I find all miseries eradicated, and bliss ruling the roost, how can I believe that ‘I am God’?”

“I agree”, replied Sheikh, “But to dawn the realization of ‘I am the God’ over all beings, you will have to extend your own enlightened consciousness, beyond the boundaries of your own self. If a stagnant pond which got connected to a source of flowing water, ‘wishes’ to connect its brethren also to the mainstream, it has to undertake the endeavour of transforming itself into a mainstream. The analogy of transforming the pond into the mainstream, implies, embodiment of the all pervading Godly consciousness of the brahmrandhra, to the gross (sthula), mental (mana), intellectual (budhhi) and pranic levels, so much so that even the physical body – transcending the material barriers formed by the power of ignorance (avidya) – gets transformed into a the potent vibrations of pure Godly consciousness.  Only then the realization, that ‘I am God’, will manifest itself in the true sense;  and the soul enlightened thus, will become a gateway, even while in this material world, for all to enter into that empire of  true realization and consciousness.

Mann Singh appeared to be a changed man now. “Your logic is impenetrable.” He conceded. “Now I am convinced that instead of indulging in outwardly directed search of God, I will have to know and experience, my own true self. The very fact that ‘I am’, is the most irrefutable substantiation of God’s existence!

“Manifested thus in the Godly consciousness”, concluded Sheikh solemnly, “The “I”, will be the source of only noble deliberations and contemplation. This exaltedly pure “I”, will then establish a true bond with the ocean of that omnipresent consciousness.  One lighted lamp will light another. The creation will be finally absolved of darkness.  This path, the path of truth, however long, is the right path. This is the true faith.