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They were all seated and the King asked, ” Oh learned pundits, you know the Upanishads, the Vedas, and I am proud of you. I wanted to give you the best dinner. I asked for the best dishes to be served. Did they give you all the 108 dishes? How did the meal taste? Was it prepared properly? Were the sweets good?”.

No-on replied. “What happened? Why don’t you answer?” said the king. The cheif pundit eventually answered, “your Highness, we do not know what we ate, because of a small incident which must been a prank played by one of your ministers. A sharp sword was hanging above each one of our heads and we were afraid that they would fall at any moment. So we just thought constantly about the swords and did not think about what we were eating. ” ” You do not even remember what you ate?” persisted the king. The pundits could remember nothing.

King Janaka said, “You see, you ate all the 108 dishes, but none of you can describe whether they were sweet or salty, good or bad. Why? I will answer you. Because your mind was centred on the sword. Similarly, I am surrounded by this palace, all these pleasures and luxuries, but my mind is not thinking of any of these things. I am thinking of God. My mind is constantly thinking of that God who is seated in all of you and in me. I try to be detached from this world and think only of God. Everything is an illusion. Just as you ate the dishes, but do not remember them, I do my duty and constantly think of one goal-God. All these things around me have no meaning for me. You pundits have the intellectual knowledge of this, but you do not have the direct experience. A mere sword can keep you mind fully concentrated because of fear. Imagine the infinite bliss of the Atman. What meaning then has all of these silly things?”

In the same way God-realised souls like Master Sivananda have touched the infinite source of happiness, the infinite Atman. What are the little pleasures of the world for them? You think these pleasures are everything, but for the Masters everything is but a mirage. A person can have ten thousand acres of farmland but still he has only one stomach. He may have a palace with twenty four beds, but still he can use only one. You can have everything. It is all in the mind. It is all an illusion. Go deeper.

Attachment is not having or not not having. Can you renounce at any given moment? The test will come. Sometimes karma will force you into activity. I wanted to live in a cave all my life, but the karma pulled me to the West. I had to come to the West and train you all. I needed an organization for that and buildings. But nothing is in my personal name. It is not for me personally that I needed the buildings. Two years ago I wanted to see whether I still had the spirit of renunciation; whether, after twenty-five years in the West, I could renounce what I had accumulated in the organization. I just left everything at a time when we had just sold some property and for the first time in the history of the organization, we had money. At the time I handed over everything to staff and left. If I had left at a time of debt, people would have thought I was running away from the debt. But I left when everything was in good financial order, without telling anyone. Nobody knew where I was going. I just ran away to a cave. I wanted to test the staff, how they would manage when I was not there, but also to see how I would survive in a cave after twenty-five years of teaching in the west. I slept on a plank supported by stones. Cave rats came and gave me a haircut every night. I survived for nine months without seeing people and observing silence. It was very beautiful. The spirit of renunciation is being able, when the time comes, to leave with no attachment to anything.