Author: Jack Barratt

Life is lila, so how can lila ever end? As long as consciousness manifests itself through limited displays, where people assume themselves to be separate disconnected beings, then lilas will continue to emerge to demonstrate the superficiality of that perspective.

Lilas happen in order to inspire, frustrate and confound. In this way, lilas, like avadhutas, are simply natural amplifications of life itself and its many paradoxically intertwined forces.

Lilas inspire in order to show people that there is so much more to life than what meets the eye. Lilas frustrate because they teach hypocrites that they can actually control nothing. Lilas confound to make people freeze on the spot and realise that they have actually understand very little about the infinite possibilities inherent within this existence of Earth.

Encountering lilas helps us to become re-aligned with what is real, and they also allow rapid shifts in destiny based on our eligibility. For example, many times in this new book, Akkalkot Shri Swami Samarth Lilamrita, Shri Swami blesses childless couples with children by handing them an object. Some of the women that came to Swami in this case were way over the typical child-bearing age, and yet they were blessed and went on to deliver healthy children. Such interventions can only happen when there is karmic eligibility. There were also a few times when Swami told people that something would not be possible or that it would only be possible in a certain amount of time. However, when things did line up, and the miracles bloomed, then these moments also acted as a statement—that the operations of reality are not always linear. No matter how much we try and control life, we cannot. If something is destined to come to us, then no matter much we try to avoid it or push it away, it will come. Likewise, if something is not meant for us, then it doesn’t matter how much we chase it, it will not come to us. Thus, one of Swami Samarth’s functions in this world was as a living Wish-Fulfilling Tree—a resource that allowed certain destined elements (like having a child or inheriting some money) to be realised almost instantaneously as a result of one’s pre-existing merits.

These kinds of lilas, where people ask and receive, are usually the most popular among devotees because they give people hope that they will eventually get what they want. However, some of Swami’s more instructive lilas came in the form of simple moments and interactions. For example, once somebody offered a dhoti to Shri Swami and then instantly had a thought about whether Swami would give it away to someone else. As soon as this thought crossed his mind, Swami returned the dhoti back to him and walked out of his house. What was the lesson behind this lila? Reality doesn’t accept anything that is offered with conditions or expectations. Technically, on the surface, people will still receive from us if we offer with expectations, but the point of lila was to show that such a mode of giving and taking is useless on a spiritual level. We may feed a million people, but if our real intention is to be recognised as a kind and generous philanthropist, then this act, though probably still appreciated, will do nothing to help us evolve and develop as a spiritual being.

Lilas are not just confined to great avadhutas like Shri Swami Samarth and Shirdi Sai Baba; life itself is constantly instructing us through lilas. However, many of the lilas that arise naturally in the course of our lives do not appear as miraculous to us. When we have tremendous faith, patience and humility, we may feel how life takes care of everything and brings things together effortlessly and with more intelligence that we would ever be able to muster ourselves. Conversely, we may see how life, and especially other people, slip out of our hands when we operate faithlessly in a controlling and manipulative way. Avadhutas simply amplify the lessons that life already always gives us.

Lilas are not always geared toward teaching lessons or actualising destiny; some lilas exist in order to connect and keep certain spiritual traditions alive. I believe that this book itself was a lila of Shri Swami Samarth and of the Dattatreya Tradition that he represents. My entire connection with the Datta Tradition, from writing Avadhuta Gita, to connecting with Mohanji, to visiting Shirdi, Akkalkot and Ganagapur, and then translating this book—I feel that it all has all come from outside of me. I feel that it is all been one lila that will continue to play out for as long as I am alive. Some of the first really significant words that Mohanji (who I consider as a Datta Avatar like Swami Samarth) gave me were ‘Connections have happened, and connections will continue to happen.’ Over the past two years or so, all that I have seen is connections happening and being formed spontaneously without effort or ambition on my part.

So, for me, this book is not just another project—it is itself lila, and it as a part of a whole life that has become lila, and it as a part of a whole tradition that lives, breathes and communicates through lilas!

In the next section of this feature, we’ll explore lilas with the original author and translator of the book, and my dear friend, Mathangi Balaji.

May we all know, love and harmonise ourselves with the lila of life as it is.

Om Dram Shri Gurudeva Datta!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.