A personal reaction: the Charisma of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
In the year 1971, when the first edition of “Shri Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi” was published by Somaiya Publications Pvt. Ltd., the writer was not even aware of the manifestation of this “Maha Yogi” known as Shri Satya Sai Baba. For this reason Shri Satya Sai Baba’s name was not included in the chapter entitled “The successors of Sai Baba” in part II of my book.
But, subsequently, the writer had the privilege of meeting Satya Sai Baba quite frequently, and each meeting was an experience and a revelation! Truly the ‘leelas’ of the Divine are inscrutable! For, now that I have been commissioned to prepare this fourth and revised edition of the “Saint of Shirdi”, I feel that it is a God given opportunity to include in the second part of my book a chapter on Shri Satya Sai Baba as also one of the illustrious successors of the Saint of Shirdi — at whose lotus feet I have found my refuge and shelter.
Since this chapter comprises a very intimate portrayal of my personal reactions to and my experiences of Shri Satya Sai Baba’s Grace, I have taken the liberty of discarding the conventional phrase “the writer”. substituting in its place the personal pronoun ‘I’ whenever I have felt the necessity to express my emotional reaction more effectively to the charisma of Shri Satya Sai Baba’s unusual outpouring of Grace on this humble writer. Destiny’s deep contrasts are but the ‘Leelas’ draping the unanimity of the one Divine!
At the outset, I would like to say that I have no intention of getting involved in the controversy whether Shri Satya Sai Baba is or is not an Incarnation of the Shirdi Baba. In any case, the writer feels that at out level of consciousness such speculations are presumptuous — and therefore futile. It is sufficient to recognize Shri Satya Sai Baba as one of Bharat’s “Maha Yogis”.
It is only when one actually sees the Baba that one realizes that his pictures which appear in the papers do not do him justice. For, the main attraction of the “Yogi” is in his eyes which are not only magnetic, but are also brimful of love and compassion. His bizarre miracles of producing “Uddhi” from empty space and the materialization of all kinds of silver and gold images and rings from his mouth give one a queer feeling of apparent showmanship which is not attractive….but one soon learns to accept these powers as an unusual method of the saint to lure people to him by giving them what they want so that later they may learn to crave for the jewels of the Spirit. Each “Yogi” has his own peculiar modus operandi, and who are we to judge whether they are right or wrong? For, as soon as we come in contact with this incredible Master, we realize that his ultimate mission is not to give material satisfaction to his flock, but rather to lead them gradually to appreciate the glittering virtues of the spirit.
The social services that this “Avatar” organizes for the benefit of the humanity are many. Hospitals, Schools and Colleges are built and commissioned to help the cause of education and to give relief to the sick and the ailing. Perhaps, no other saint has involved himself in such practical solutions of the country’s welfare. There is no dearth of volunteers who dedicate their services to the institutions started by the Baba who infuses the spirit of service and dedicated work to his followers. We are reminded of Swami Vivekananda who said years ago that “Work is Worship”. Baba has not much respect for the “Yogi” who spends his time enjoying his own individual Bliss, showing supreme indifference to the sufferings of the others. This life says Baba is ‘preface to the epic of the supreme’ which requires the practice of an internal “Yoga”. It is no wonder, therefore, that Shri Satya Sai Baba is recognized by even the highest Government officials and enjoys a popularity which has no parallel among the godmen of Bharat.
But despite this preoccupation with the vaster issues of life, Shri Satya Sai Baba, like Sai Baba of Shirdi, gives an amazing outpouring of love and understanding of the problems of men an women individually. His heart is full of compassion for the woes and miseries of the ordinary householder. Satya Sai’s miracles for the upliftment of those who are oppressed with the diseases of the body and the agony of the mind are well known to those who go to him with Faith.
It is on this note that I should like to conclude this brief chapter after relating the two personal tokens for one who does not merit such favours.
(1) Round about the year 1978 Shri P.K. Savant, who was then one of the ministers of the Maharashtra Government, met me at a public function and said to me — “Mrs. Sahukar, I have read and appreciated your book, ‘Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi’, but how is it that you refrain from prostrating at the feet of his Incarnation, Shri Satya Sai Baba?” I was taken aback, as I replied — “Mr. Savant, I do not know much about Shri Satya Sai Baba, but even so I would not hesitate to pay my homage to one whom I recognize as one of our spiritual Masters. Due, however, to my physical ailments, I am unable to go into big crowds, so I keep away.” However, Mr. Savant graciously invited me and my husband to a small gathering in his house where Shri Baba was to come. We went to this function gladly. When we reached Mr. Savant’s house, we were told that Baba had gone upstairs for a brief respite. The staircase was guarded by volunteers. I pleaded with one of these volunteers to let us go up as we were special guests of Shri Savant, but the man was rude and refused to comply. I started getting sore, and rebuked this man, and while this unseemly row was going on, Shri Sai Baba himself came down the stairs, much to my embarrassment. I wished then that the ground would open and swallow me up! But the Beloved Master only looked at me with a gleam of loving amusement in his eyes. he had a garland of flowers in his hand which he put around my neck. This gracious gesture took my breath away, and I prostrated myself at his holy feet.
(2) The second Miracle of Grace took place in White Field, Baba’s Ashram in Bangalore. Just a day before we were due to leave for Bombay, we learnt that Baba was arriving from Puttaparthy. Very naturally, my husband and I went there for the holy saint’s “darshan”. About three to four hundred “bhaktas” were already seated in neat rows. I joined the women who told me that Baba would emerge from a cottage we could see in the background. Then Baba would walk through certain rows and leaving other rows alone, all according to his sweet will. Soon, we saw the frail Swamiji walking towards us. My heart was pounding like a machine. Would he walk through the aisle where I was? He approached us and them swerved away from us. He then went to a small dais at the end of the compound and sat on the chair. It was all over. The lucky ones who were blessed with “Uddhi” were chirping, and the unfortunate one (I among them) felt desolate. But, since I felt completely forsaken, from the depth of my being I prayed to my Master the Saint of Shirdi. “Beloved Sai”, I silently begged, “Do not let him ignore me like this. Somehow make Satya Sai Baba come to me”. Then a great miracle manifested itself. Shri Satya Sai Baba in response to my silent cry, suddenly got up and came down the dais and made a bee-line for me. He came close to me and lightly touched my forehead and then walked away to the cottage. There were two or three more of such extraordinary miracles which swept me off my feet.
But despite all these supreme tokens of his Grace and love for me, I have never felt a desire to go to puttaparthy. Perhaps for me the image and form in which I have been worshipping Sai Baba through the years — the beloved old man with white beard and hair sitting cross-legged is like an indelible image in my heart and no other image can replace it. It may also be an unconscious yet deep feeling within me that if Satya Sai Baba is indeed my beloved Guru’s Incarnation, then my staunch dedication, love and devotion to this supreme being would automatically reach any manifestation who is an Incarnation of Shri Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi.
I end this chapter in all humility, leaving stone by stone the pattern to the Designer.
Source: The Saint of Shirdi – by Mani Sahukar (Chapter 15)