I WILL give an explanation of two questions which I have
very often been asked: What was the object of the prophetic
mission? Why is it necessary for man to be taught by another,
by his fellow man? Why cannot each one find within himself
the way to the light, to illumination?
The prophetic tendency exists in every part of the manifestation.
Among the jinn and the heavenly beings there is the
prophetic tendency and also in every part of nature: in
the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, among the animals as
well as among men.
There would be no diamond mines in the earth if there
were not one spark of a diamond which causes every other
atom of the earth with which it comes in contact to become
a diamond. It is the same with the ruby. The diamond wants
to make everything else become a diamond; the ruby wants
to make every other atom into a ruby.
Among the plants in the jungle – not where man has planted
and sown, but in the jungle which has not been touched –
you will see that if there is one mango tree, it will make
a thousand mangoes grow; if there is one fragrant flower,
a thousand fragrant flowers will be near it; if there is
one sweet fruit, there will be hundreds of sweet fruits.
Among the animals there are many instances of this tendency
of which I will tell you some cases that I have seen. Sometimes
in India the monkeys come to a village from the forest and
break down all the roofs of the houses. There is always
one among them who is the leader. When he jumps, all the
other monkeys jump after him; when he wants to go back to
the forest, they all want to go back to the forest.
In India there are the Jains; their religion is harmlessness:
to be harmless to every creature. When the Jains cook their
food, they prepare some for themselves, some always for
the priest and, if they can afford it, also a little for
the animals. In every street of a town we have dogs, ten,
twelve, twenty five dogs, according to the length of the
street. The dogs are fed in this way; everyone is their
master, and everyone feeds them. Among the dogs there is
always one who is the leader. When a dog from another street
appears, the dogs all collect behind their leader and when
he barks they all bark; when he attacks they all attack,
and so they drive the other dog away.
In the Northern provinces near Nainital and in Nepal,
at the foot of the Himalayas, there is a jungle in which
there are elephants. The people have many ways of catching
them, and one way is to dig a small pit and cover it over
with branches. Then they hang their swing-like nets up in
a tree, and they stay for some days and watch for the elephants.
They are happy in the trees, because the climate permits
it. Then if a herd of elephants happens to go that way and
an elephant puts his foot into the pit, he goes down, he
cannot help himself. Then he cries out; the other elephants
look on from a distance, but are afraid to come near, and
the men have a kind of fireworks with which they frighten
them away if they do.
Now in a troop of elephants there is always one who walks
in front. He holds a stout branch in his trunk and hits
the ground with it before every step he takes to see whether
there is a pit. He knows a thousand other dangers and he
knows this danger too. Then if the ground is safe he goes
forward and all the others follow him. They have such confidence
in him that wherever he goes they go too. This shows that
the tendency to leadership exists among the elephants, the
tendency to self-sacrifice. The elephant who is the leader
goes first, thinking, 'If there is a pit I may fall in,
and the other elephants will be safe'. He never goes anywhere
where it is not safe, and if some elephant is caught, it
is some small elephant which has no sense and does not follow
In Nepal the Maharaja had an elephant who was a leader
of elephants. He was in the Maharaja's house and the Maharaja
gave orders that no one should ride him but he himself,
because he honored the elephant, recognizing his qualities.
I have seen this. Whenever Maharaja Bir Shamsher went into
the forest elephant hunting this elephant was taken too.
The Maharaja had named him Bijili, lightning. He was a very
small elephant, but when they failed to make a catch he
was sent out and, when another elephant saw him, he at once
followed him. So Bijili always came back with another elephant
– such was his magnetism. He did not like to catch elephants,
because he had the quality of mercy. He would never go unless
he was forced by the mahouts, and when he saw the other
elephants he turned his head away.
Even among the animals there is this prophetic tendency.
Sometimes we see this prophetic tendency in parents. Whatever
way they themselves may have followed, they wish to train
their child the best way for the higher way. Sometimes it
is found in a friend. Whatever undesirable way he may have
followed himself, he wishes to save his friend from it.
It is only the chosen ones, the blessed souls, who have
this tendency. It is not in every child's parents that this
tendency is found, nor in every friend. To have such parents,
such a friend, is the greatest blessing.
To come now to the question what was the object of the
prophetic mission I will say that the evolution of men was
very much nearer to the animals in ancient times than it
is now. They thought only of eating and drinking and of
taking the best things from another, caring nothing about
the result of their actions, unless they were awakened from
this animal existence.
In India, in the villages and small towns there are watchmen
who go through every street, calling, 'Awake, awake, lest
thieves come!' They call at twelve o'clock, at one o'clock,
at two o'clock, at three o'clock, all night. The prophets
were sent to awaken. When a person cannot wake up in the
morning of his own accord, then the alarm-clock awakes him.
The prophets were this alarm.
Sometimes power was needed to arouse people; then the
prophet was a king, like Solomon. Sometimes beauty appealed
most; then Joseph came whose appearance, whose face was
so beautiful that all hearts were melted by his magnetism.
It has always been the intention of the divine Power to
send that prophet whom the time needed. When a venerable
life was revered there was Jacob, whose life was so venerable
that all bowed before him. When music was most admired David
came, who was gifted with a beautiful voice, who played
the harp and gave his message in song. Thus every prophet
came in the manner that the age could understand.
Man is the aim of the creation and the highest being,
because it is man alone who knows the purpose for which
he was manifested, the reason why he is here. Cats and dogs
do not know this, because their intelligence is not developed
enough for this, and also because their self is before their
eyes. The prophets had renounced their self: that is why
they were prophets. When the self is gone, then all the
other selves come. When the self is before the eyes, then
the soul is blinded.
Every other being in the manifestation wants to become
man. The jinn want to become man, the rocks want to become
man, the plants want to become man, the animals want to
become man. If you go to a riverbed and take up the pebbles,
how many pebbles do you not find that show the human face.
Sometimes the nose is absent, sometimes the lips are absent,
but a partial face you will often find; sometimes they have
cracks and lines showing it. What a great thing this shows
us: everything is striving to become the human face, to
But it is not man as he is that the divine power wishes
to produce. The man we want is not the man eating, drinking
and sleeping like the animals. If man wishes to know what
he should be, he should compare himself with the animals:
if he eats, they also eat; if he drinks, they also drink;
if he sleeps, they also sleep. They have their passions
and hatred and anger just as he has. If he has only that,
then he is not man. It is only in man that kindness, sympathy,
discipline, self sacrifice, meekness, humility, and such
qualities are found. And if we see any of them in animals,
in dogs, cats, horses and cattle – such as faithfulness
in the dog, obedience and courage in the horse – it is only
the reflection of man, their association with man.
Then there is responsibility. Man alone has the sense
of responsibility. Animals do not have it. About this a
Hadith says, 'We sent Our burden upon the mountains, and
the mountains refused. We sent Our burden upon the plants,
and the plants refused. We sent Our burden upon the animals,
and the animals ran away at the sight of it. We sent Our
burden upon man, and he accepted it'. This means that only
man has taken the responsibility for his actions.
Then a Sura says, 'Verily, man is cruel and foolish'.
Foolish, because he has taken upon himself that which is
God's. There are many who run away from marriage, because
they think that a wife and children are a responsibility.
They do not think that wife and children are God's and that
He takes care of what is His. Cruel, because he uses his
will and strength – which are God's to harm others. Our
will, our strength are God's, and yet we say 'my' and 'mine';
we claim them for ourselves.
The watchman calls from night till morning. In the day
the alarm clock is not needed because it is day. The prophets
were sent from night till morning. They came with the same
message under different names. The same divine wisdom spoke
in each of them, but if a Hebrew had been asked, 'Do you
recognize Krishna and Rama?', he would have said, 'I have
never heard of Krishna and Rama. I recognize Moses because
that is written in my book' If a Hindu was asked, 'Do you
recognize Moses or Christ?', he would say, 'No, I recognize
Rama and Krishna and Vishnu and the Vedanta. You may keep
Christ and Moses, I will keep Rama, Krishna and Vishnu'.
There are some who prefer the Kabbala to the Bible, they
recognize the Kabbala. If you ask a Roman Catholic he will
say, 'if there is any church it is mine'. They have all
recognized the name, the personality – they have not recognized
the truth. They want to keep Krishna in the temple, Christ
in the church, and Moses shut up in the synagogue. That
is why so many now are seeking for the truth.
In each age the message was revealed more and more –
in accordance with the world's capacity to hear it – until
the last and plainest revelation, the message of Muhammad,
the seal of prophecy. After this no more prophets were needed.
The world was awakened to the understanding of the true
reality. Now is not the time to wait for the coming of another
prophet; now is the time to awaken to the truth within ourselves,
and if there is a friend who has gone this way before, now
is the time to ask his advice.
The Sufi's work is not to interfere with anyone's religion,
nor to force a belief upon anyone. He does not say, 'Believe
this'. The murshid is a friend and a guide. He advises,
he does not force anything upon you.
You may be a Christian – I was not born in a Christian
family, but no Christian is more touched than I am by the
words of Christ that I read. If they are rightly understood,
they alone are enough to make you a saint. They say that
in the end he was crucified upon the cross, but I say that
from his birth onward every moment of his life was a crucifixion.
For the souls of the prophets the world is too rough, their
hearts are too tender for it.
No Brahmin has studied the Vedanta with more interest
than I have. If you know Brahma, if you know God, you are
a Brahmin. Whether the Brahmin recognizes you or not is
The Sufi says, 'You wish to know about illumination,
about revelation? You wish to know about inspiration? This
is the way for you to follow: believe as much as your intelligence
allows you to believe, as much as you can reach. Do not
believe what your intelligence does not allow you to believe'.
He recognizes one divine wisdom in all the prophetic messages.
He sees the same infinite Being speaking through all in
different forms and names through all ages. It is just as
if one had the photograph of one's sweetheart at different
ages: at twelve, at twenty, at thirty, at forty. The photographs
are different, but it is the same sweetheart.