Saving Grace

Sai Sadguru Chananam

Sai Sadguru Chananam


Saving Grace

When Sathya Sai Baba appears in a dream, it is no longer a dream. It is the way He awakes us to the Atman. It was on one such occasion that He appeared and told me: “you know the story how one gopika crossed the turbulent river Yamuna with namasmarana alone to serve as her guru. Do you want to know the condition of her mind then?” Abruptly the scene changed. There was a splendid golden yellow light, no form (not even Baba). Time has no relevance in such a state. It was blissful and all pervading. At one stage even these feelings were not known. After sometime I was aware that I was part of that light and so was Swami. Suddenly there was a rapport between us. “You know now this state is really indescribable. Even the nearest descriptions like ‘Tatwamasi, Aham Brahmasmi …… ‘ when once put into words are far away from the Truth.” This blissful state continued for some more time.

Swami told me two more words which I could not recollect later inspite of my best efforts, partly because I have no knowledge of Sanskrit and mainly because of my ignorance of the Upanishads. The reader can well imagine the depth of my ignorance if I say it took me nearly a year to recall the missing words which were communicated to me by Baba. They are “Pragnanam Brahma and Ayamaatma Brahma”. I also came to know that these four constitute the “Maha Vakyas” (great pronouncements) taken one from each Veda—‘Pragnanam Brahma’ from the Rigveda, ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ from Yajurveda, ‘Tatwamasi’ from Sama-veda and ‘Ayamaatma Brahma’ from Adharvanaveda. Still more recently I was amazed to see these were the Maha Vakyas with which Sri Adi Sankara was initiated by his guru, Sri Govindapada.

Acquisition of this book knowledge itself makes an interesting story. In 1972 my mother-in-law became sick and both her lungs showed extensive lesions. Experts varied in their opinion—lung cancer or massive tuberculosis. In either case, the count down had begun in her life. I thought that if it was cancer then there was nothing that could be done at that late stage. If it was advanced tuberculosis, I thought that injection of streptomycin and other drugs could be tried, hoping against hope. This was explained to the old lady. She wanted to have the darshan of the Lord before her last breath. Immediately my wife, Dr. Sanyasamma, and her mother took the next available train. This they did simply because we had heard that Swami wanted to start some Summer Course (the first Summer Course) and that He would be at Whitefield. On April 30, 1972 both the ladies were seated in the Bhajan mandap. Swami asked Dr. Sanyasamma abruptly, “why are you still sitting here? What has happened to that Kasturi?” Later, Sri Kasturi explained that Swami had instructed him the day before to hand over a badge and ask her to stay for the whole summer course. This clearly showed that Baba’s will and will alone put the two ladies in the train and drew them to His feet.

Later her mother had a reeling sensation—a reaction to the streptomycin injections she was receiving. She thought it could be remedied only by placing her head on Swami’s Feet or if Swami placed His hand on her head. The very next day Swami, while talking to the lady doctor about the symptoms of her mother, created vibhuti and was about to hand it over to her. He then said: “if I give it personally, the patient would be more happy.” He went among the crowd of devotees and stood before her. She made use of this opportunity and immediately bowed down at His feet. While getting up Swami placed His hand over her head and blessed her, thus fulfilling both her wishes. Immediately all treatment was discontinued. When she returned after three weeks to Vishakhapatnam, her X-ray picture revealed that both lungs were absolutely normal.

Dr. Sanyasamma brought all the notes of the summer course in long hand and both of us studied the originals one by one and came across the ‘Maha Vakyas’. Then it became apparent that whatever Sathya Sai Baba says either from the stage or in a side talk or even as an apparent joke is pregnant with meaning, always paving the way to the final goal of knowing our own self.

—Dr. M. S. Krishna Rao, Chittoor

Reference

Double Dose Of Amrita

Colusa Vibuthi Manifestations

Colusa Vibuthi Manifestations


Double Dose Of Amrita
On Guru Poornima Day, there was a big gathering of devotees from all parts of India at Prasanthi Nilayam, a gathering of at least a few thousands. I had no chance all these years of receiving from Sathya Sai Baba‘s Hands the sanctifying Amrith that He distributes on holy festivals. So I was anxious to be present and to receive it. The devotees had arranged themselves in rows along the verandah and porch and the open spaces opposite the Nilayam expecting Baba to come through there and give the nectar that thrills the soul.

A few minutes before the arrival of Baba, a volunteer asked us, under directions, to go into the Prayer Hall and sit in lines there; for, Baba will enter the Hall and give Amrith there also. Only two or three of us responded and went into the Hall. The rest remained where they were. Meanwhile, Baba started distributing the nectar to the people on the verandah and those who received it came into the Prayer Hall, for it was nearing Bhajan time. The volunteers did not allow us to move out of the Hall to where Baba was; the rule is that no one should disturb others by getting up in the middle and walking towards the door. I prayed to Baba to take pity on me.

After about an hour, Baba entered the Prayer Hall. Seeing a few devotees like me who had not received the Amrith, He summoned for the vessel, and graciously distributed it to those few. He came near me; I was overjoyed that my prayers had been answered; but, to my surprise, He said that I had already received it at His Hands! I could not understand Him. I begged Him to bless me with the Amrith He had in His hand, saying I had not received it. With a smile and a look full of mercy, He said, “All right! Have your second dose!” and poured into my palm a spoonful of the nectar.

After the Bhajan, I returned to my room, with mixed feelings, and sat before the portrait of Baba in my prayer room. To my great astonishment, I saw drops of Amrita, trickling down from that photograph. Baba had given me the first dose of Amrith in my room, in answer to my prayers. What He gave me in the Prayer Hall was the second dose!

O, Sarvajna, Sarvasaktha, Sarvantharyami, Deenadayapara! I surrender at Thy Feet.

Reference

Baba Answers

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Baba Answers

Perhaps one of the greatest boons that an Avatar bestows upon humanity is to dispel the clouds of darkness to guide them in the path of liberation. Though, in general these counseling comes in the form of Divine Discourses, there were rare occasions when questions pertaining to spirituality and other intricate matters were fielded to Bhagawan. Dr. John Hislop had this rare privilege of seeking answers for some of the trickiest and yet vital questions that represented the common perceptions and doubts of the Sai Fraternity. Read on from the notebook of Dr. John Hislop as published in the Oct 1974 issue of Sanathana Sarathi.

Question: Swami! Excuse me. A person, observing you moving amongst people and choosing some of them for special attention, is puzzled why some are left out.

Sathya Sai Baba: Yes. It is quite natural that you are puzzled. One looking from the outside cannot know who is worthy and who is not.

Question: People say that they are often punished by Swami. Is that a fact?

Sathya Sai Baba: Of course. In punishing a person for misdemeanor, Swami wants to correct the defaulter. But, though harsh in appearance, at other times, he is all Love inside. Sometimes he corrects a person in private; at other times, he does so, in public. For, if he corrects in public, all who hear will learn and see for themselves, what pleases Swami and what does not. Swami is very strict in his principles and rules. An Avatar does not compromise. To the Sadhaka, strictness is, ultimately, the best kindness.

Question: Yes, Swami. Persons near you have to be perfect.

Sathya Sai Baba: People judge Swami by the conduct and behaviour, the earnestness and sincerity, the generosity and humility of those ‘near’ him. So, those who are outwardly ‘distant’ are not apparently dealt with so severely. But, even they are watched and warned. Depending on the situation, I can be soft as a rose petal or hard as diamond.

Question: Swami is the motivator of the individual, I have heard you say it. I know it is true. How then do persons commit faults?

Sathya Sai Baba: Swami is the ‘I’ in you and in every one else. The ‘I’ which prompts you to will, to think and act is the reflection of the ‘I’ that I am. The Sun is reflected in water. wherever it lies; whatever its quality. The Sun warms the water it shines upon. When the reflection is in muddy water, we say the person is Tamasic—dull, slothful, stupid, fond of darkness, revelling in ignorance. When the Sun is reflected in water that is quivering in ripples, the person is Rajasic, passionate adventurous, emotional. When the Sun is reflected in clear calm limpid water, the person is Satwic, calm, unruffled, full of peace and inner joy.

Question: Many Gurus teach, “All is done by the Lord; and, not by you.” But, the world over, there is the concept, that man is responsible for his actions.

Sathya Sai Baba: As long as you believe you are only human, this concept will persist. But, that cannot change the truth—”You are God.”

Question: We do not will to be human, and not God!

Sathya Sai Baba: No, you do not. It is just a matter of being confused. It is a delusion. At present, there is in you a mixture of 5 states of consciousness: the unconscious, the subconscious, the conscious, the super conscious and the Divine Consciousness, where God alone IS. When you raise yourselves from one state to another, the idea of your being merely human will vanish of itself. The Gita teaches man first to engage himself in `work’; then, he is asked to `give up the desire to earn the fruits of work’; later, he is told that Dharma is his only concern; afterwards, Dharma is interpreted as Dharma for liberation; finally, he is told that even the desire for, Liberation is to be given up. `Be attached Jo Me alone’, is the final lesson. You do not will to be human; you are misled to believe so.

Question: Pardon a question that borders on the personal. Swami seems, to us to have different moods; what does this mean

Sathya Sai Baba: I am not hurt by any type of questions; in fact, I want you to be free of all doubt. Remember, Swami is always happy. He is always Bliss. No worries, no concerns can affect the Bliss.

Question: Yes. Swami is often heard saying, `Yes. Yes. Yes’.

Sathya Sai Baba: Your tendency is to say `Yes’ to that which is pleasing to you, and ‘No’ if the prospect is otherwise. Swami says, `Yes. Yes. Yes.’ to everything that comes. For, everything is My Gift; everything is Good for the person, at the time, for the purpose I have in view.

Question: Considering the Task that Swami has undertaken, it is strange that You are always in Bliss.

Sathya Sai Baba: The boat glides over the flood; but, does not allow the flood to enter it. On Swami’s shoulders alone rests an ever increasing burden. The problems and sorrows of millions of people; the institutions and individuals who turn to Him for guidance; the interviews, the prayers, the petitions. On the mental level, unknown to you, I am with all who yearn for God, no matter where they actually are, over the entire world.

I am by the side of seekers, saints, yogis, rishis, everywhere, watching them, counselling them, fostering every sign of progress towards God and Self realisation. But, the Bliss in Me is constant, unchanging. Even outwardly, My Bliss can be noted as constant, even while I may appear angry, impatient, aloof or distant. The anger is put on, just to set right some situation; the aloofness is assumed, for the particular time and place. My Love is as constant as My Bliss.

Question: Those saints, rishis and sages do they pray for counsel? Is not praying the same as begging? If we are God, we beg only from ourselves.

Sathya Sai Baba: It is not begging, when you ask God for something. When you receive what He gives, you have to rise up to His level, at least for that moment. When you beg from, one equal to you, you put yourselves down and he is raised up. When you beg from one lower than you, you degrade yourself still lower. But, when you beg from God, you rise; you are elevated in spirit and you sense fulfilment.

Question: But, I had thought that since God knows all, He would remedy the situation, if it is appropriate that it should be done.

Sathya Sai Baba: Of course, He would, provided you have surrendered fully, without any reservation. But, until then…

Question: Yes. Swami had written in a letter to me, “Do not worry about your health. Your God is always with you, in you and around you.”

Sathya Sai Baba: That is right. What I said is enough, for those who have surrendered! You must weaken your sense of identification with the body. You may have a headache today, a stomachache tomorrow. Don’t worry. You are not the body; no; you are the Atma, the Divine Dweller in this body. Once I have told you not to worry, there is no more need to ask Me about it. Don’t identify.

Question: Swami said that while praying to God, the petitioner raised himself to the level of God. In order to make such a prayer, in what state of mind should one first put himself?

Sathya Sai Baba: It is not necessary that one should put oneself into any particular state of meditation.

Question: Usually, the advice is, that one should go to a quiet place and be in a quiet mood when he wishes to pray.

Sathya Sai Baba: Wherever and whenever you put yourselves in touch with God, that is the state of meditation. You may feel that 1 P. M. in California is not a good time to call Me, for I may be asleep in India and that I should not be disturbed! I know you have felt like that once or twice. But, I am omnipresent; I have no such limitations. I never sleep. At the middle of the night, I turn off the light and rest in bed, because if the light is on, devotees will gather. I have no need of sleep. But, you need at least 4 hours of sleep.

Question: If I am walking in the street, with people around, and my mind engaged with things I must do, is that a good time?

Sathya Sai Baba: At the beginning; one might need some special circumstances for clearing the mind of junk and concentrate on God; but, when you become aware of God in every thing and everywhere, no matter where you are, it is the same; prayer can emerge from the heart and reach God.

Question: Swami! You have said that in meditation one should strive to cut off the Form aspect. But, we worship your Form and like it. We pray to that Form.

Sathya Sai Baba: That is the right thing to do; but, later, when visualisation is abandoned, you come closer. Now, you are looking at Me directly.

Question: Swami! When they heard of, Krishna’s Death, many Gopis fell lifeless from the shock. So, their relationship was only with the Form of Krishna, it seems.

Sathya Sai Baba: No. The Gopis had both relationships. Because of their years of close companionship, they were strongly attached with the physical Presence. But, they also knew Krishna in their hearts as their Innermost Reality. They always felt He was with them, even when His worldly activity took Him far away, physically.

Question: Then, why the terrible shock? If Krishna was so firmly imprinted on their hearts?

Sathya Sai Baba: Their only reason for placing any value on the body was that Krishna was also in physical existence! When Krishna left, they had no more interest in the world!

Question: One last question, Swami! On behalf of America. Will Swami come soon?

Sathya Sai Baba: My coming will delay, until a base is built in America. However, I can go to America or any other Continent, informally, any time. The devotee need only call Me; I will appear at once

Reference

Oh Ye Of Little Faith!

Sathya Sai Baba Distributing Vibuthi

Sathya Sai Baba Distributing Vibuthi

The Bible speaks about faith and greater faith. Quoting Jesus, It says, “… if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) This faith is not the realm of the ordinary, though it is not reserved exclusively for the explicitly ecclesiastical ones. Interestingly, at times one could see absolute, unqualified faith mushrooming in unexpected quarters. Read on for such a powerful instance as chronicled by John Eversole, Santa Barbara, Calif., U.S.A., published in Sanathana Sarathi, April 1978.

Oh, Ye of Little Faith!
A friend with whom I work has listened to my endless tales of Sathya Sai Baba‘s miracles and power, with doubt and teasing. But, he did not scoff or deny and even asked me for some of Bhagawan’s Vibhuti, when his mother was ill. His name is Tony De Paco, and his mother recovered at the time, but, made her transition, a year later.

One night, Tony asked me if I would drive him to where his auto had stalled. The starter was quite active, but, the motor was not responsive. I suggested we sprinkle some Vibhuti on the motor.

Tony said that the electricity or the petrol was not reaching the motor, and, he would just leave it, until he could return and fix it.

But, I prevailed and Tony allowed me to place Vibhuti on the motor, before he tried again to start the obstinate auto which was vary old and worn. The motor started, much to our delight, and Tony started the many miles home, while I followed, in my car.

We finally arrived where I should turn to go to my home, and Tony wanted me to turn off and he would continue the two miles further, to his residence.

But, Tony is a good man. I decided I would follow him, in case the auto stopped again. I was very grateful for this decision of mine, when I saw Tony’s auto stopped dead, a short distance further:

I stopped and went towards Tony. I was expecting his gratitude for my gesture, when I was dismayed to hear him say, in disgust, “Now, see what you have done! You have stopped this motor again. Baba’s Vibhuti had it running and you did not have the faith to turn off. So, your lack of faith has stopped the motor.”

While I was towing him home, I thought, “I talk like the devotee—but, it is Tony who has the faith. How wrong I was, to feel superior!”

Reference

Trust In Sai Baba And The Rings Retrieved

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Trust In Sai Baba And The Rings Retrieved

In late summer 1985 I visited a few remaining relatives and friends in Germany. While in Hamburg, I saw an old friend who owns and runs a small goldsmith shop and studio, close to the city. Since her husband, who was also a friend and colleague had passed over many years ago, she mentioned a few times her concern regarding security in the shop where she spent most of the time alone…

I carried a small spare photograph of Sathya Sai Baba with me. I bought a nice little picture frame and put it in a showcase next to the counter and said, “SAI BABA will protect you; believe in it and you must do the same…”

She thanked me for the picture and said that she believed in BABA, even though she knew little about Him, other than what I told her…

14 months passed by. One day, late in November 1986, I received a phone call from Germany, from my friend in Hamburg. Totally upset and excited she told me that she has just been held up in her shop by a young man waving a pistol at her and threatening her life demanding five most valuable rings from the central showcase… She could not even take a single side step to press the silent alarm connecting the shop to the police…

The thief took the 5 rings and moving backwards, threatening to shoot when followed, left the shop… The police arrived within minutes after the alarm was activated. But the thief had vanished. What made me feel really sorry for her was, when she said, “You told me, SAI BABA will protect me and I really believed so much in it” (So did I). Feeling deeply with her I could only say: “He actually has helped and protected you, you could have been hurt or worse if that man was a violent type…” After that telephone call my thoughts went around in circles… I was aware of her predicament, since those valuable rings were not ‘insured’ as she said she could not afford the insurance. It was a substantial loss for her.

A few days later I received a long letter from her. To my bewilderment, she wrote that two days after the incident, she received a phone call from a Catholic Priest at an outer suburb, asking her, whether her shop had been held up two days ago? Bewildered about his knowledge of the incident, (the papers did not mention the robbery at her request) she admitted to the happening and, in return, she wished to know where he obtained that information.

The priest told her, a young man came to him, and handed over 5 rings and a gun, telling him he committed a holdup in a jewellery shop of such and such address, threatening the lady in the shop with the gun to obtain those valuable rings. He asked the priest to return the rings, since “he could not find a peaceful moment since.” Grateful and happy, my friend visited the priest and received the stolen rings.

Reference

Recent Events At Prashanti Nilayam – Sathya Sai Baba Ashram

Latest Photos from Prashanti Nilayam
December 21st 2008
Cultural Programme by Devotees from Srikakulam
December 17th 2008
Cultural Program by Youth from Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh
December 17th 2008
Bhagawan visits the SSS International Centre for Sports
November 30th 2008
Inauguration of the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust Annexe Building

Recent Events At Prashanti Nilayam – Sathya Sai Baba Ashram
Curtesy RadioSai & SSS Book Trust

Monday, December 22, 2008
This evening’s bhajan session was for over 100 minutes. Bhagawan arrived after the Bhajans began at 5 pm, and moved to the interview room. After a series of interviews, He came to the Bhajan Hall and almost immediately accepted Arati at 6.45 pm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008
Three thousand devotees from Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh had gathered at Prasanthi Nilayam. Yesterday, they had a procession in the streets of Puttaparthi outside the Ashram. This evening, they had a chance to present their programmes in Sai Kulwant Hall. Bhagawan arrived at around 5.40 pm in His chair, and when He reached the stage, He asked the leader of the group to speak a few words of introduction. Following his Telugu speech, a 50 minute drama was presented by the youth and Balvikas children, on the transformative quality of Balvikas. The devotees sang some songs for fifteen minutes after the drama while chocolates were distributed to the participants and Bhagawan went down for group photographs with the children. Once He came back onstage, Bhagawan accepted Arati at 7.15 pm and returned to His residence.

Thursday, December 18, 2008
This evening, when Bhagawan arrived in Sai Kulwant Hall at five o’clock, He moved in His chair to where the youth from MP and Chhattisgarh were seated and moved among them. He said He wanted to give group photographs for the participants in yesterday’s drama. Since they could not arrange themselves where they were seated, the students vacated an area in the centre of Sai Kulwant Hall and the photo session went on there. Swami blessed two of the group with clothes and they also received their photos then and there. Moving to the Bhajan Hall where the Bhajans were going on, Bhagawan moved down the aisle in His chair and gave sarees to a lady and three of the bhajan singers there before He accepted Arati at six o’clock.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Since Saturday, when Bhagawan had enquired about the sports events of the students, they have been eagerly awaiting a visit from Him at the Indoor Stadium complex. Today, that visit materialised. Last evening Bhagawan came for darshan at 4.15 pm and this morning at 8.10 am, moving in a full darshan round of Sai Kulwant Hall in His chair. This evening, at four o’clock, Swami went to the Indoor Stadium directly from His residence and watched parts of tennis, volleyball and basketball intra-mural matches there. He returned to Sai Kulwant Hall at five o’clock, and after a brief visit to the interview room, came onstage for a performance by the youth from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Fifteen minutes of traditional Karma dance from Chhattisgarh was followed by a Hindi adaptation of Bhagawan’s play ‘Cheppinattu Chestara’ (Do you do as you say). The half hour drama was followed by fifteen minutes of songs by Sri Abhas Joshi, a former Balvikas student and a top three finalist of a singing competition on national television. Bhagawan accepted Arati and returned to His residence blessing all the participants with Abhayahasta at 6.30 pm.

Saturday, December 13, 2008
Sri Ashok Chavan, the new Maharashtra CM, had an audience with Swami this morning. A couple of days ago, former Union Home Minister Sri Shivraj Patil had also come for Bhagawan’s darshan. This evening, the students presented a card detailing their Sports activities as the Bhajans went on, and after Arati Swami had a brief interaction with the students and teachers in the Bhajan hall, enquiring about the different events before returning to His residence in the car at 5.45 pm.

Friday, December 12, 2008
Devotees from Anakapalli had come to Prasanthi Nilayam as a group, and this evening they had the opportunity to sit near the Sai Kulwant hall stage and lead the evening bhajans. They run a Deena Janodharana Pathakam there for orphans and single mothers, and the children were also seated in the front. Bhagawan arrived for darshan in the chair at 4.45 pm, and interacted with some of the group before coming onstage and beginning their bhajans. He sat there while prasadam was distributed and had another short interaction with some group members after Arati at 5.50 pm before retiring for the day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
This evening, while the Bhajans went on, Bhagawan moved down the Bhajan Hall aisle and went out through the rear door. On the verandah, He blessed the faculty members of the Department of Economics of Sri Sathya Sai University, who presented a card to Him about their upcoming conference. The national conference begins on Thursday, December 4, at the Prasanthi Nilayam campus and has the theme ‘Economics and Energy’.

Sunday, November 30, 2008
The last few days have been quiet at Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagawan has been coming to Sai Kulwant Hall in the evenings and some groups were blessed with interviews. This morning, Swami returned to His residence after 10.30 accepting Arati concluding the morning Bhajan, and a few minutes later went to the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust where He inaugurated their new Annexe.

The Baba We Adore

The Sathya Sai Baba We Adore

The Sathya Sai Baba We Adore


The Baba We Adore
by S. Ramakrishnan
Bhavan’s Journal
[Nov. 9, 1975 pp 20 – 29]

Reverential homage to Poojyapada Sri Sathya Sai Baba on his fiftieth jayanthi. He was born on November 23, 1926. It was a Monday, Somavara. The month was Kartika, specially sacred for the worship of Lord Siva. The ascending star on that day was Ardra. The combination of Karthika Somavara and Ardra Nakshatra is rare and is exceptionally auspicious.

To see him is a feast for the eyes. To listen to his spell-binding oratory is an education for purposeful living. To hear his soul-stirring bhajans is to go into ecstacy. Once we meet him, he simply haunts us and we cannot but give him a permanent lodgement in our heart.

Majestic and winsome, simple yet sophisticate, steeped in our ancient lore yet well-versed in current affairs, agile yet imperturbable, wise and witty, with a bewitching smile and a visage that exudes sneha and karuna, with the shock of curly hair that forms a natual crown on his head and the flame-red one-piece robe that stretches from neck to feet, Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a magnificient personality.

Baba is virtually deified by lakhs of devotees the world over. In their homes and offices, his photograph finds a pride of place among the family deities. I have seen his picture adorning the tables and office-rooms of many of our distinguished leaders, editors, literateurs, scientists, administrators, senior officials in the Secretariat in New Delhi and State capitals and even in the Indian High Commision in London.

One of the most arresting and revered personalities of the century, Baba spontaneously commands the respect and reverence of millions of people, in India and abroad. He has his own unique way of transforming people in all walks of life. Their number is legion. It is indeed true that Baba’s devotees include a sizeable number of those who are drawn to him because of his superhuman power or siddhi and are proud of venerating one endowed with such a rare gift.

And it is equally true that down the ages Mankind has always viewed the mysterious and the miraculous with awe and reverence associated with godliness.

But then not all of Baba’s devotees belong to the class of mystery worshippers. His followers include many people noted for their intellectual attainments, rational outlook and scientific research.

What is the secret of this magnet in human form that goes on irrestibly drawing devotees whose ranks are ever swelling?

Is it his power for materializing out of thin air with a mere wave of his hand an amazing array of objects that holds the key to his irrestible pull and commands the spontaneous adoration of the multitudes?

The Baba we adore is not the one who performs miracles of materializing Vibhuti, photos, rings, necklaces, silver and gold idols, spatika lingas and other precious articles, but the Baba who performs the greater miracle of transforming men.

The Baba we adore is not the one from whom people expect cure for all their physical ailments– after all, the human body is ephemeral and it must progressively decay and wear out and birth and death are but obverse and reverse sides of the same coin and the one is inseperable from the other.

The Baba we adore is not the one, who according to some, is the founder of a new sect or cult, but the Baba who stands for Sarva Dharma Samaanatva.

The Baba we adore is the Baba who, without fuss of the `arrogance of humility’ associated with knowledge and scholarship, lovingly and convincingly dins into people the inner meaning and significance of our ageless traditions, symbolism, customs and manners.

The Baba we adore is the Baba who is the bhakthavatsala, the snehamurthi, the karunasagara.

The Baba we adore is the Baba who comprehends the basic motive of everyone and who ensures eternal life to ideals and institutions which seek to represent the life-breath of Sanathana Dharma.

Wednesday, December 23, 1970. At Dharmakshetra, atop a hillock overlooking the Western Ghats, in the shade of the beautiful lotus-shaped Sathya Deep blooms the Bombay abode of Baba.

The sun had set some time ago and there was an all-pervading quietness. The sky had been lit up by the innumerable stars and star-clusters. There was something indescribably serene about the atmosphere. The clock had just struck the quarter hour to eight- the clock, the handiwork of man, a mechanical contrivance which, in its littleness, is vainly trying to measure the Immeasurable Eternity.

One felt the hovering presence of some Mighty Force. As Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandavas averred, the mind is famed for its swiftness even to outstrip the wind. But in Baba’s presence, the mind is riveted, as it were, and stands still, as if bidden.

About a dozen close devotees were there in the mini-guest house adjacent to Saytha Deep – some in the courtyard, some in the verandah and some inside the rooms. Dr. V. K. Gokak, Sri N. Kasturi, the late Sri P. R. Kamani, Sir Indulal Shah and Sir Ratanlal were in the rooms. I also happened to be among them. We were `conversing silently.’

In the verandah was an American, Dr. Joseph Hislop, from California. For the past forty years, Dr. Hislop had been on a pilgrimage in quest of Truth. He had associated himself with various religious and saintly organizations, and had been making a study and pursuing the search by a life of dedication to the cause. He has been a keen and ardent student of Eastern Religion and Mysticism, having had long contacts with Burmese monasteries (Buddhist monks) and Indian teachers of Yoga like Sri Mahesh Yogi.

Dr. Hislop was reading the Guruvayurappan number of the Bhavan’s Journal (December 13, 1970), standing in the verandah, slightly resting his back against the wall.

Suddenly there descended complete silence. All involuntarily sprang to their feet and bowed reverentially.

Softly treading the steps, Baba gently came in. He went closer to Dr. Hislop and looked at the picture adorning the cover page – the picture of Sri Guruvayurappan, with Sankha, Gada and Padma in His hands,

Dr. Hislop respectfully gave the copy of the Bhavan’s Journal to Baba. Baba glanced through the Journal from cover to cover, graciously making sparkling explanatory commands and remarks. In particular, he stopped at the the feature on Upanishads by Sri Rajaji and then told Dr. Hislop the gist of the Upanishads in a few short and succint sentences. He spoke of the young, bold, intrepid inquirer of Truth, Nachiketas, who went to the abode of Yama, the God of Death, and wanted nothing but imperishable knowledge that enabled man to conquer death. Yama offered him the best of things, things beyond the reach of mortals on earth, tempting and alluring. No persuasions, no enticements could move Nachiketas to give up the goal that he had set out to achieve- the transcendent wisdom to be learn from the Only Teacher, Yamadharmaraja, who could dispel all doubts regarding the mystery of life and death. Nachiketas was not made of common clay- he was one of the few that had the courage turn his gaze inwards to become one with antara chakshus and seek the truth and not, unlike the millions of commoners, to let the senses go after external pleasures. Yama imparted to him the Truth, and the vision of the ultimate reality dawned on Nachiketas.

Turning his attention again to the picture of the Lord on the cover, Baba queried: “What is the significance of the Sankha (conch), the Chakra (discus), the Gada (mace and the Padma (lotus) in His hands?”

None dared or could answer the question. We all looked on in mute silence expectantly for the answer.

Baba explained: “The Sankha represents the Primordial Sound, the Nada-Brahma. The Chakra,” he said, “symbolizes the Kalachakra, the Eternal Wheel of Time, that rolls on and on and on. And the Gada,” he proceeded, “symbolises the Will Power, the Sankalpa Shakti of the Lord, whose potency is voiced through the epigram – Tena vina trinamapi na chalati – Without His Will not a blade of grass doth stir. The Padma is the thousand-petalled flower, symbolizing the mind, with its fitfulness, rushing forth in all directions and the Lord hath it in His hand to proclaim that He is master over the minds of men.”

In 1971 a dear and respected elder, a distinguished educationist and philosopher, a former director of Bhavan’s Delhi Kendra, and myself went on a pilgrimage to Puttaparthi. We left Bangalore by car about 3 a.m. so as to reach Puttaparthi by 6 a.m.

During the three hour 100-mile drive, we discussed, among other things, about the advisability or otherwise of accepting a donation offered by a philanthropist for conducting research in Bhavan on Vishtaadvaita. The Bhavan has always firmly stood against fanning differences – denominational, religious, regional or linguistic. It is is pledged to foster harmony, unity. In view of the unbridled fanatic zeal of some of the overzealous followers of the great messiahs, there was a natural anxiety on our part as to whether the accpetance of the donation was likely to unconsciously carry with it the seed of some futile controversy on some abstract aspects of something or other. However, long before we reached Prashanthi Nilayam at Puttaparthi, we unanimously came to the conclusion to recommend acceptance of the offer to Bhavan’s Executive Committee. Thereafter, we discussed many other matters and by the time we reached Puttaparthi, we had forgotten all about the donation offer.

We reached Puttaparthi at about 6 A.M. As usual, there were large crowds of devotees, from far and near. When our request to have an audience was submitted to Baba, he told the messenger that “they left Bangalore at 3 A.M. They have not even taken water this morning. First give them breakfast and then let them see me.”

When we were duly ushered into Baba’s holy presence, we prostrated before him. He affectionately patted us and bade us to sit. After solicitous enquiries about the Bhavan, with a broad grin, he said, “Some people think that Advaitins and Visishtaadvaitins – followers of Adi Shankara and followers of Ramanuja – cannot work together, isn’t it? This is absolutely wrong.”

We were dazed. How could he have known what we had discussed a few hours ago in the privacy of a speeding car? Baba added. “The Saivites hail their Ishta Devata as Pasupati, while the Vasishtaadvaitins hail their Ishta Devata as Gopala. Is there any difference in substance?”

Then with his characteristic smile, Baba asked, “What is the name of your friend?” I replied, “Professor Sankaranarayanan”.

“Does not his very name proclaim that Sankara and Narayana are one? How can there be any difference between Advaita and Vishishtaadvaita, Saivites and Vaishnavites?”

On December 30, 1971, Munshiji’s 84th Birthday, I had the privilege of escorting Baba from Dharmakshetra at Andheri to the Bhavan at Chowpatty.

During the 45 minute drive in his inimitable style, Baba explained some of the truths of life. Referring to Kulapatiji, Baba remarked: “The machine is good. It has worked well. But it has gone old and worn out. It may break down in less than 4 to 6 weeks.”

When Baba met Munshiji in his sickbed, the latter never asked any question about his own longevity or family matters. His sole concern was the Bhavan and its future.

Baba emphatically said:

“Your sankalpa in establishing that Bhavan was absolutely pure and unselfish. In the same spirit, you have nursed it with love and care. You have rightly declared that it is God’s work. You may rest assured that the Bhavan will flourish and render more and more useful services to the cause of culture in India and outside.”

Munshiji literally shed tears of joy. And Munshiji breathed his last on Monday, February 8, 1971, in less than six weeks!

It is not uncommon, particularly in our country, that many institutions flounder when the founding father fades away from the scene. But fortunately for the Bhavan, thanks to the blessings of the godly and good, and the dedication, foresight and genius of Munshiji, the Bhavan is forging ahead.

The Seed of the London Kendra of the Bhavan was sown in June, 1972 – about a year and a half after the passing away of Munshiji. The decision to found a Kendra in London was an agonizing one. “Will it be a leap in the dark?”, “Will the Kendra thrive?”, “From where will the resources come?”— all these and a hundred other questions had to be sorted out before embarking on the venture.

On the day prior to our leaving for London for exploring the possibility of opening a Kendra there, I had Baba’s darshan at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Worli, Bombay, where he addressed a vast concourse of lahks of devotees.

Among the milling crowd, I was just a speck and, even if I wanted to, I could not have thrust myself forward!

Baba who was taking a round among the crowd suddenly stopped in front of me and surprised me with these words: “You are going to London tomorrow?” I said, ‘”Yes.”

“Well, go ahead with faith. Whatever may be the initial difficulties, the Bhavan’s London Kendra will flourish.”

And true to his prophetic words, the Kendra has got over its teething troubles and is now doing well.

A Merchant-Prince from Gujarat who had made his fortune by his untiring industry in East Africa once came and met me in the Bhavan a few years ago. The man who exuded opulence from almost every pore of his body, I expected, would also be brimming with inner joy, but, alas, this was not to be. He did laugh during our conversaion, but the laughter sounded hollow and in fact it was only an echo of his deep grief within. I enquired of him whether there was anything worrying him secretly.

He opened up and said, “Yes, it is my young son, eldest son…” He could not talk easily, such was his anguish.

Slowly I gathered that he was sorely distressed because his son who was in England for higher studies had been nearly `seduced’ into leaving Hinduism and embracing Christianity.

All the persuasive efforts of the father and the even more worried mother had fallen flat on the youngster for whom Hinduism, with its “maze of thousands of gods and goddesses” held very little attraction and appeared irrational and anachronistic.

The gentleman sought my help in infusing his son with faith in Hinduism. I explained to him that our ancients had enjoined to look upon one’s children as equals after they attain the age of 16. Hence, any compulsion was likely to harden the heart of they impetuous and misguided youngster in pursuing his own decision. I also stressed the futility of brow-beating of imposing a decision on a confused and bewildered, though sincere, soul. I told him tht the best way to `teach’ was to follow the way of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: expound and explain the pros and cons of the issue and then tell the son, as the Lord told Arjuna: “I have explained everything to you. Now you do what you think best.”

However, I suggested to the anxious father that his son might get a much better insight into Hinduism by coming into direct contact with noted religious leaders. Entirely agreeing with this view, the father pleaded that his son should be exposed to the influences of some of the religious luminaries in our land. Indeed, two well-known Swamijis had a dialogue with the young man but then, he could not be deflected. In the meantime, I had also given him a few of the Bhavan’s publications for reading and understanding Hinduism in depth.

As luck would have it, Baba happened to be in Bombay at that time and on Christmas day he was to speak on Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, at Dharmakshetra.

I suggested to the worried father that he should try and take his son to Baba’s meeting which might change his mind. At first, the young man did not seem particularly enthusiastic, but somehow he was persuaded to attend. The boy, his parents and myself motored together to Dharmakshetra. From Sathya Deep, Baba came down to the pandal, moved among the vast concourse and then commenced his holy sermon on Christ and the significance of Christmas.

When the speech was over, wild with enthusiasm the young man embraced me and said:

“When I saw him and his childlike simplicity and overflowing love and total freedom from fanaticism, my heart throbbed. When I was listening to his message, my mind stood still. My doubts vanished. I now realize that Hinduism is all-inclusive, all-embracing, is the `Mother of all religions.’ I am convinced that the core and kernel of all religions are the same. To be a genuine Hindu is to be a genuine Christian or Muslim or Parsi and vice versa. Mere changing of label by formal conversion is unnecessary, nay, it is indeed irreligious.”

If this is not a divine miracle, what else is it! Has not Baba himself dwelt at length on the ordinary miracles? I had the privilege of attending the Maharashtra Sathya Sai Conference in Bombay on March 31, 1973. Referring to the report of one of the Sathya Sai Kendras which had with a sense of pride mentioned that Vibhuti was coming out from some of the photographs in a particular Sai Kendra, Baba declared:

“We should not give attention and thought to the Vibhuti that comes out of the photographs. We must make an attempt to see that the Vibhuti of divinity comes out of our own heart. The meaning of the words Bhagavat Vibhuti is that you should develop what is called divine sight or divine vision. You should utter divine words. In your own life, you should propagate and give rise to divine ideas. The kind of Vibhuti which you see on the photographs may come today, but may disappear tomorrow. It may be created by some people in order to give favour for some kind of thought. We should not attach any importance to this transient phenomenon. It is a matter of some regret for me that members of the Sai Organization are also giving importance to such things. This is not the correct path. Isvara who lives in your heart is something which is permanent. What comes as divine Vibhuti from your heart is much more important than the artificial Vibhuti which we see… What is contained as Ishvara Bhava in your own divinity, each one has to try and propagate and hand over to others. That is real bhakti.”

I have often wondered: What is Greatness, Divinity? Man in his ignorance or arrogance has endeavoured to define Greatness by many a yard–stick, but has failed in the attempt. But when we are in the presence of Baba, we sense sublime Greatness — it is in the air, suffused throuhgout in the atmosphere around. All doubts and discords, all the petty things that trouble us at other hours, just evaporate. It is dazzlingly bright, yet soothingly cool. It is felt, but is indefinable. It is everywhere, but cannot be seen anywhere by the naked eye.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a soumyamurti. The mere sight of this Sanathana Sarathi’s radiant face, full of mercy and compassion, comforts and consoles. The words that flow from him dispel all doubts. They carry with them a force that is neither that of vehemence nor of cold logic. It is a force generated by the alchemy of love, springing from an Akshayapatra of Karuna and Prema.

Poojyapada Sri Sathya Sai Baba is a unique blend of sweetness and light, the gist of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Darshanas, Epics and Puranas, all rolled into one, with the intellectual sweep, sharpness, sway and alacrity of Sri Adi Shankaraacharya and the directness, catholicity, clarity and simplicity of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Glory unto Him. Amen