Selfishness will not go as long as man identifies himself with the body and does not realize the Divinity in him. Diversity in creation is an obvious fact. No two human beings, not even twins, are identical. But diversity should not lead to differences and conflicts. We must learn to see the unity that underlies the diversity. This unity is based on the Divinity that is present in everything in the universe. The realization of this unity can come, only through firm faith in God.

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol.19, Ch.18

Unity in Diversity

Short story:

Our hand has five fingers, and each of them has a specific duty assigned to it. All the fingers work in unison and harmony while performing a task. Once an argument ensued among the five fingers of the hand as to which finger among them is the great. The thumb claimed, "It is not possible to undertake any work without me. Hence, I am the greatest." Then the index finger smiled and said, "Look here, Oh thumb! How can you perform any task without my support? Moreover, I am used as pointer to identify individuals. Hence, I am greater than you." The middle finger intervened and said, "There is no point in what you say. I am the tallest among all the fingers. Two of you on one side and two on the other are serving me as ADCs. Hence, I am the greatest." Then the ring-finger said, "I feel like laughing at your ignorance. Don't you know that people adorn me with gold rings studded with precious stones like diamond, emerald, topaz, etc.? Hence, I am your king." In the end, the little finger said, "I always lead from the front when it comes to teaching a lesson to someone and punishing the guilty. Hence, I am your leader and you have to follow me."

As the fingers were arguing among themselves in this manner, the heart intervened and said, "Oh ignorant ones! Each one of you is as important as the other. One cannot perform any task if there is no unity and harmony among you. In fact, you represent the five human values, which are like five life-breaths of a human being." Hearing these words of wisdom, the five fingers realized their mistake and bent their head in shame.

- Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 38,​

Excerpts from Baba’s Discourses:

Principle of unity

A dog entered a room fitted with mirrors and saw many dogs in the mirrors. It was afraid to see so many dogs in the room, considering them as danger to its life. In order to escape from the situation, it jumped upon one of the mirrors, considering its own reflection in it to be another dog. As it did that, it saw that the dog in the mirror also jumped upon it. In the process, the mirror broke. Then, it felt that there was no other dog at the place and escaped from the room. It felt greatly relieved that it could save itself from so many other dogs. But where were so many dogs? It saw its own reflection in so many mirrors. The same is the case with people today. If one sees all other forms as his own reflection in the mirror of the world, one will realise the principle of unity. So, there are no such separate entities like father, mother, brothers, and sisters. But one develops worldly relationships due to one’s delusion and says, “She is my sister, he is my brother, he is my father, she is my mother.” These are all only physical relationships and not the relationships based on your divine reality. Try to understand that the same Atma is present in all. But you develop worldly relationships, forgetting the principle of the Atma. You say, “She is my wife” but prior to the marriage, she is separate, and you are separate. Only after the marriage do you say, “My wife, my wife.” How you have developed this relationship of husband and wife? It is due only to your delusion. It is because of delusion that one makes many mistakes and indulges in many undesirable activities. Wherever you see, there is God and God is one. People say, “He is Rama, He is Krishna, He is Shiva, He is Vishnu.” What does it mean? Does it mean that Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, and Krishna are separate entities? These are the different names of the same God. God appears before you in a particular form based on your own imagination. When you contemplate on the form of Krishna as portrayed by artists like Ravi Varma, God will manifest before you in the form of Krishna. In the same way, God will appear before you in the form of Rama. But God is neither Rama nor Krishna. Both Rama and Krishna are you only. The forms of Rama and Krishna are nothing but your own reflections. When you say, “I want Rama”, God manifests before you in the form of Rama. Similarly, when you say, “I want Krishna”, He appears before you in the form of Krishna. All these forms are nothing but your own reflections.

- Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.29, Ch.19

Unity within the family

Shiva is the supreme exemplar of serenity! Shiva, according to the scriptures has a curious assortment of family members. Yet, each one is so calm and without agitation, that the divine family exists in peace and concord. Shiva has snakes on His arms, round His neck, on His head, around His waist! One of his sons, Subramanyam rides on a peacock, which attacks snakes; Ganesha rides on a mouse, which the snakes feed on! Ganesha has the head of the elephant, which is the prey of the lion, which is the vehicle used by Durga, the consort of Shiva, who is so inseparable that she is the left half of the body of Shiva Himself. Nor is the lion friendly by nature

to the bull, which Lord Shiva Himself has as His vehicle! Shiva has fire on the central point of His brow, and water, the river (Ganga) on His head, both are incompatible! Imagine how loving, how co-operative the various components have to be, to render life in Kailash smooth and happy!

It all depends on the mind and its proper discipline. The weapon of Love will disarm every opponent. Love begets Love; it will be reflected back, it will have only Love as reaction, Shout 'Love'; the echo from the other person's heart will also be 'Love'. Walk on the path of righteousness, dharma. That is what all appreciate. Dharma means morality, the control of passions and emotions and directing them along beneficial channels. If you have no greed or hatred, you will get good sleep, also. There is no need to swallow sleeping tablets! Now, life has become artificial, there is no art or heart in life! It has become mere 'fishlal' type of life---for, consider how fish stinks, though all its life is spent in water!

- Sri Sathya Sai Speaks Vol.11, Ch.25

Seeing unity in diversity is true spirituality

All of you should imbibe the spirit of unity. Whomsoever you come across, say, “He is my brother, she is my sister.” In this way, consider all as your brothers and sisters and conduct yourself with unity. All are children of God. Therefore, if at any time feelings of hatred develop between you and others, remind yourself that you are not separate from them. Consider that all are one, attain unity, and experience its bliss. Seeing unity in diversity is Divinity and true spirituality. Study of scriptures, performing rituals, doing worship, etc. do not signify true spirituality. Recognizing the unity of the Atmic principle is true spirituality. When you realize this unity, you will earn divine grace. You are always chanting, “Sai Ram, Sai Ram, Sai Ram,” but this alone will not develop devotion in you. You should imbibe the spirit of unity and chant the divine name to develop true devotion. If you have even a trace of true devotion in you, do good to others and live in harmony with them. Do not hate anyone. Love all. If you have love and faith, you will develop nonviolence. Only then can you experience bliss.

- Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.41, Ch.8


Questions for Reflection:

1. What are some practices we can take up to experience unity (thought, word and deed) at an individual level?

2. Why is it a challenge to see the same divinity that is within us in others consistently?

3. How do we expand from individual unity to family, community and nation?

Audio Clip links:

Click for Discourse on Guru Purnima day 29, July 1988


Unity, coming together is the real pleasure and joy

It is best for the welfare of all the people

We can accomplish any task however big it may be

The best example the we see in the world is

When the tiny ants come together in unity to tackle and finally kill a big snake.

Click for Discourse on Guru Purnima day July 1996

Click for Discourse on 21 November 1999