Seeing Sai Baba
Our columnist has a spiritual time in a remote village in India.
INTRIGUED by his teachings on human values and the fact that he has followers in 170 countries, I travelled to Puttaparthi, India, last weekend to experience Sathya Sai Baba’s darshan (blessings).
Puttaparthi is a remote village in Andhra Pradesh state in India’s south-east that has been placed on the world map as a top pilgrimage centre owing to the presence there of Baba, who is considered a living god by more than 100 million followers worldwide.
The shops, hotels, banks and other business outlets in the village all depend on the floating population of thousands who come there from all over the world throughout the year to seek Baba’s blessing and peace of mind.
My first glimpse of Sathya Sai Baba is when shopkeepers rush out of their stores to join the crowds lining the main street – Baba is passing by in a car escorted by police and volunteers, returning to his abode.
He’s returning from a visit to the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, which treats the poor for free and also handles cases related to cardiology, urology, nephrology and ophthalmology.
I later discover that to get into Baba’s Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Peace), one must go through airport-style security checks, including going through a metal detector and being frisked. And just like on an airplane, cameras, mobile phones, pens and sharp objects were prohibited. Men and women are separated to opposite sides of the huge hall.
The day that I’m here, Nov 7, is special because on the second Saturday of November every year, devotees in Puttaparthi and at Sai Baba centres worldwide sing bhajans (devotional chants) continuously for 24 hours to confer peace, joy, harmony and bliss to all of mankind.
Thousands of vocalists sing with full devotion and the divine vibration is said to have the power to remove negative thoughts, soothe the nerves, purify the mind and heal those within earshot.
I am overwhelmed by the vibrations of the sacred sounds the moment I step foot into the holy space.
Seated in a lotus pose in silence, I feel a sudden surge of energy rushing into my body when Satya Sai Baba arrives in a wheel chair.
Wearing a saffron coloured robe, Baba seems, to me, electrifying – so much so that I feel goose pimples, and tears well up in my eyes.
Some of his devotees tell me later that such experiences are common in the presence of a “realised master” because his mind is saturated with “God consciousness” and a great ecstasy will develop within any individual close by, without any mental or intellectual effort.
Sathya Sai Baba is pushed slowly along an aisle lined on both sides by over 10,000 devotees; he stops occasionally to receive letters and wedding invitation cards from his followers, and some cry with love and joy when he’s close.
He does not speak but gazes deeply into the eyes of everyone he comes into contact with; when he reaches the dais in front, he sweeps his eyes over all his devotees. His disciples clasp their hands in prayer and bow, while the crowd basks in the peace he is emanating.
Sathya SaiBaba was born on Nov 23, 1926, and, right from his childhood, there were consistent manifestations of his divinity. For instance, his birth was accompanied by strange phenomena – like the musical instruments in his house playing on their own and a cobra lying unthreateningly under his bed.
Even as a small child, he was against violence and refused to touch meat; by the age of four, when most children have not learnt to share yet, he began displaying compassion and generosity.
At the age of 14, he declared to his family that he did not belong only to them and set out with others who believed in him to launch his divine mission in the service of mankind.
He would enchant his followers by doing things like distributing sweets from an empty bag, plucking a variety of fruits from a tamarind tree, and creating holy ash in his hand.
One of his strongest messages then was to surrender completely to him, that he would take over his followers’ worries and fears.
According to Baba, surrender means not having expectations, not being upset if the outcome of events is different than anticipated. He says he can only help when an individual completely entrusts him or herself to him totally.
Baba says energy passes from him to devotees in his presence, and that whatever his eyes see will be vitalised.
In the meeting hall, I am five rows away from Sathya Sai Baba and cannot pass him the letter I am carrying for a Malaysian devotee – but Baba stares at me and then at the letter I am holding, and, somehow, I feel that he knows its contents.
Baba does not perform any miracles that day but some of his devotees experience visions and say they feel a sensation of relief and contentment in his presence.
I feel lighter and almost blissful after the two hour session in Sathya Sai Baba’s company.
Many who arrive there come “expecting” but return “accepting” the true purpose of life and of the power of love and compassion.
The columnist will present a talk on how to choose an auspicious property and create a happy home following Vasthu Sastra principles at 2pm on Nov 27 at The Star Property Fair at Hall 4, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Admission to the talk is free. To register, call 012-329 9713.
Senior News Editor T. Selva has spent years researching and writing about the ancient Indian science of construction, better known as ‘Indian feng shui’. He is the first disciple of 7th generation Vasthu Sastra Master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, India.
The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.
Filed under: Andhra Pradesh, Indian Feng Shui, Prasanthi Nilayam, Prasanti Nilayam, Sai Baba, sathya sai baba, Sathya Sai Organisation, Sathya Sai Organization, T Selva, Vasthu Sastra | Tagged: Bliss, Darshan, Faith, God, Guru, Gurus, Healing, Hope, India, Love, miracles, Prayer, Puttaparthi, Spirituality |