Is A Guru Necessary?

Sat Guru Sathya Sai Baba

Sat Guru Sathya Sai Baba

Is A Guru Necessary?

Dear Reader, we have for you an excerpt from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba‘s own writing, a chapter from the sacred volume “Sandeha Nivarini”.

Devotee: Swami, can we ask you freely about any topic concerning the spiritual path, which we do not know?
Sathya Sai Baba: Certainly. What is the objection? Why this doubt? What am I here for? Is it not for explaining to you things you do not know? You can ask me without any fear or hesitation. I am always ready to answer; only, I want earnest inquiry with a desire to know.

Devotee: But some elders say it is wrong to vex the Guru with questions. Are they right, Swami?
Sathya Sai Baba: That is not correct. Whom else can the disciple approach? Since the Guru is everything to him, it is best that he consults him in all matters and then acts.

Devotee: Some say that we should reverentially carry out whatever the elders ask us to do without raising any objections. Is that your command also?
Sathya Sai Baba: Until you develop full faith in them and know that their words are valid, it will be difficult for you to carry out their orders reverentially. So, until then, it won’t be wrong to ask them the significance and the validity of their orders, so that you may be convinced.

Devotee: Swami, whom are we to believe, whom are we to discard? The world is so full of deceit. When those, whom we believed are good, themselves turn out to be bad, how can faith grow?
Sathya Sai Baba: Well, My boy! Where is the need for you in this world or any world to grow faith in others? Believe in yourself, first. Then believe in the Lord, Paramatma (universal being). When you have faith in these two, neither the good nor the bad will affect you.

Devotee: Swami, faith in the Lord too diminishes sometimes. What is the reason for that?
Sathya Sai Baba: When one is deluded by the mere external world and when one does not attain success in such external desires, faith in the Lord diminishes. So, give up such desires. Desire only for the spiritual relationship; then you won’t become the target of doubts and difficulties. The important thing for this is faith in the Lord; without that, you start doubting everything, big and small.

Devotee: Until we understand the reality of Paramatma, it is important, they say, to be in the company of the great and the good and also to have a Guru. Are these necessary?
Sathya Sai Baba: Of course, the company of the great and the good is necessary. To make that reality known to you, a Guru too is important. But, in this matter, you should be very careful. Genuine Gurus are scarce these days. Cheats have multiplied and teachers have retreated into solitude, in order to realise themselves undisturbed. There are many genuine Gurus but they cannot be secured easily. Even if you get them, you must thank your destiny if they vouchsafe to you more that one single Sadvakya (spiritual truth) ; they won’t spend time telling you all kinds of stories! There should be no hurry in the search for a Guru.

Devotee: Then, what in the world is the path?
Sathya Sai Baba: Why, it is just for this that we have the Veda, Sastra, Purana and Ithihasa (ancient scriptures) . Study them; adhere to the path they teach and gather the experience; understand their meaning and the trend of their message from Pundits; follow them in practice; meditate on the Paramatma (universal being) as the Guru and as God; then, those books themselves will help you as your Guru. For, what is a Guru? The Guru is that through which your mind gets fixed on God. If you consider Paramatma as the Guru and do Sadhana (spiritual practice) with unshakable love, the Lord Himself will appear before you and give Upadesa just as a Guru. Or, He may so bless you that as a result of the Sadhana, you may meet a Sadguru.

Devotee: But, nowadays, some great big persons are granting Upadesa to all who ask; are these not Sadgurus, Swami?
Sathya Sai Baba: I won’t say they are or they are not. I declare only this: It is not the sign of a Sadguru to grant Upadesa (spiritual instruction) to any and every person who comes to him with praise, without considering the past and the future, without discovering the qualifications of the pupil and testing whether he is fit.

Devotee: Then Swami, I have committed a blunder! When one great person arrived at our village, and when all were receiving Upadesa from him, I too went and prostrated before him and asked him for it. He granted me a good Upadesa; I repeated the Manthra for some time, but, soon, I came to know that the great person was a cheat. Since that day, I lost faith in the name he gave me; I gave up Manthra. Was this wrong? Or, am I right?
Sathya Sai Baba: Do you doubt the right and wrong of this? It is very wrong. Just as the Guru, as I told you now, examines the qualifications of the disciple, the disciple too has to critically examine the credentials of the Guru before receiving Upadesa. Your first mistake was that you did not pay attention to this but hastily accepted Upadesa. Well, even if the Guru gave it without the necessary qualification, why did you break your vow and stop repeating the name? That is the second mistake: casting the fault of another on the sacred name of God. Before receiving Upadesa, you should have taken time and known his genuineness and enveloped faith in him. Then, when the desire to accept him as Guru emerged, you should have received the Upadesa. But, once you accept, you must repeat it, whatever the difficulty; you should not give it up. Otherwise, you commit the wrong of accepting without deliberation and rejecting without deliberation. That wrong will be on your head. You should accept a name when you are still afflicted by doubt or a name which you do not prefer. Having accepted, you should not give it up.

Devotee: What happens when it is given up?
Sathya Sai Baba: Well, my boy. Disloyalty to the Guru and discarding the name of God – on account of these, your one-pointed endeavor and concentration will wither away. As the saying goes, “The diseased seedling can never grow into a tree”.

Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team.

Mother Supreme – Mother So Sweet & So Dear

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Mother Supreme – Mother So Sweet & So Dear
By T. Ravi Kumar

Dr. T. Ravi Kumar joined the erstwhile Sri Sathya Sai College at Brindavan (Bangalore) as a student for his intermediate course in the year 1974. He continued this with his Bachelors in Science in the same college. After he completed his Masters in Science (Chemistry), he joined the Sri Sathya Sai College as a faculty member in 1981. Later, he was awarded Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry from the Sri Sathya Sai University in 1990. Currently, he is a Reader in the Department of Chemistry in the Brindavan campus of the same university. Additionally, he is a talented speaker and a keen student of Sri Sathya Sai literature.

The saddest day and the happiest day in my life fell on the same day – September 15, 1963. I was only 4 ½ years old then, and my mother had passed away that day. In the evening, as her body was being taken away for cremation, my cousin, who was slightly older than me, whispered into my ears that my mother would be taken in a procession. That somehow made me a lot happier as I imagined that it would be like the temple procession. Every image that my little mind could evoke of that religious parade was one of joy and gaiety.

But when my cousin said that “… she will not return” I was plunged in grief. All attempts to soothe me failed, and so I was taken across the street to my aunt’s house to keep me distracted. This aunt of mine was a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, and so there was a nice photo of Baba in the front room of the house. Looking at it, I asked her who He was.

And she told me: “This is God. Pray to Swami and He will protect you”. Little did I realize then that the Divine mother’s compassionate eyes had fallen on me, at a time when my physical mother’s eyes had closed. And from that instant, I can say, my life has never been the same again.

It was in the year 1968 that my father was cured of cancer by Sathya Sai Baba by just uttering “Your cancer is cancelled”. Father lived for 38 years after that, and died of old age a couple of years ago! He was active till his last breath.

My family and I had always thought that it was only in 1968, after this miraculous curing of my father’s cancer, that we had the good fortune of being drawn to the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba. But the sweet Lord was soon to remove our misconception!

One day, when I had the blessing of speaking in His Presence, I mentioned about how my family and I had come under Swami’s fold. But the all-knowing Lord corrected me by saying, “Not 1968 – 1963”.

Sathya SaiBaba went on to mention “Do you remember the day your mother died? Did you not ask your aunt, seeing My photo ‘who is this, aunty?’ From that day onwards, I have been looking after you”. And what an exciting journey it has been with Sai Maa to guide me! Swami has been a mother, nay much more than a mother to me!

Teenage Adventures
At the time it was made known that my father was suffering from cancer, our lives went through quite a few twists and turns. Since he was not expected to survive the cancer ailment, on returning to office after his trip to Puttaparthi, he found many of his colleagues, who were quite junior to him, had been promoted. This meant my father had to work extra hard to make up for lost time and opportunity.

At that time, I was studying in high school and fell into bad company. The school I studied in had the distinction of having three cinema theatres in front of it, and we – my friends and I – used to spend our afternoons in the cinema theatre watching movies and whiling away time. In fact, we would see as many movies as there were days in a week – we would even go for a morning show to make up for not seeing one on Sundays, which was a school holiday!

From ‘Good Boy’ to God’s Boy
One Sunday, my family and I went to Brindavan (Baba’s ashram in Bangalore) for Swami’s darshan, and Sathya Sai Baba picked us for an interview. Now, normally everyone looks forward for this blessing. You only need to see the joy on the faces of the devotees thus selected to understand what it means to them.

However, as we went to the interview room, I was filled with mixed feelings. There was a slight panic somewhere within my heart along with the joy that we had secured the coveted interview. As Swami returned from the darshan, He passed us and patting me on my cheeks, said “Good boy”.

Now, anyone who gets this remark, even once in his life, would feel that the purpose of life has been achieved, and would be excited and thrilled. But, believe me, it was nothing compared to the bliss I felt. The reason for this was two fold: on the one hand, Sathya Sai Baba had ‘certified’ that I was a good boy and I could wear this on my sleeve. But more importantly, on the other hand, it was also a feeling of tremendous relief as it confirmed that even Sathya Sai Baba was not aware of what I was up to!

However, the very moment this thought passed me, Sathya Sai Baba looked at my father and enquired about the other friends who had accompanied him. On being told that they were on the grounds outside, Baba sent him to fetch them.

He then turned towards me and with a sweet smile, again said, “Good boy”. I felt a glow within for a millisecond maybe, till this assertion became a question. “Good boy?” I tried to look as innocent as good boys do, but the questions followed: “Where were you yesterday at 2.30 in the afternoon?” Trying to look as pan-faced as I could, I answered confidently, “Swami, yesterday was Saturday. I must have been in the classroom…”

Satya Sai Baba quipped back saying, “That’s right, you should have been…. But where were you?” (I realized that the questions were becoming tougher and decided to remain silent). Swami continued, “Shall I tell you? You were sitting in the third row from the last in Ajanta theatre with your friends G and P on either side of you watching the film Katti patang” (a Hindi movie; the title means “a runaway kite”).

That was a precise description of my life till then! Swami’s voice trailed off, when from the corner of my eye I noticed that my father was coming with his friends. I shuddered realizing that it would be a red letter day in more than one way. Swami might choose to expose me within a second’s time and my father would punish me… my father strongly believed in the theory ‘do not spare the rod and spoil the child’. But what followed next, transformed me inside out! Instead of revealing it all to my father, Sai Maa, with the most loving smile, said, “He is a good boy. I was advising him to keep good company”.

I was moved beyond words can express. I asked myself, “Is there anyone in this world who can be and is so kind, in spite of knowing everything about you? Who could have loved me and helped as much, despite my many shortcomings?”

I reasoned that Sathya Sai Baba could have used this incident to demonstrate to my father and the others His omniscience, but chose to save me instead. From that moment, I decided to love this Mother with all my heart and serve Her lotus feet all my life!

This incident, truly, marked a new beginning in my life; I turned a new leaf. But what made it even better was when, after my schooling, Swami gave me the priceless privilege of being selected for the Sri Sathya Sai College for my intermediate class (XI and XII grade).

This meant that I could enjoy Swami’s proximity, and could grow up in the Divine Presence. That was in the year 1974. But now, when I look back at the tapestry of my life, I can see how Swami has so intricately and lovingly woven it with threads of gold.

Growing Up, Literally, with the Lord
Being in the junior most class, and that too the shortest, did not do much to boost my self-confidence. I secretly yearned to add a couple of inches to my height. One morning, in my first year, standing in front of the porch in Brindavan, Sathya Sai Baba said, “All short boys come to the front”. I was surprised to see that there were about 8 of us!

Sathya Sai Baba called the warden and instructed him to give us all a ‘medicine’ for growing tall! He handed over a box and instructed that it be given to us with hot milk in the morning everyday. The warden marched us to his office, and as an additional precaution noted down our heights. The next morning, when we were given the ‘medicine’ we were delighted to find that it was very tasty and sweet. How many times have we heard of a ‘sweet medicine’? But when the dispenser is the Divine Mother, how else would it be?

After fifteen days the ‘medicine’ was fully consumed. The warden went to Swami for the next ‘dose’. Swami just said, “There is no need. Measure their heights and see for yourself”. And of course all of us had grown taller. The evasive couple of inches had been added! Realization dawned on me that there was nothing too small to escape Swami’s attention, and nothing too big that He could not bless us with.

The Overpowering Sai Shakthi
It was a few days after the 70th birthday celebrations in the year 1995. I was sitting in the first line in the Bhajan Hall. Sathya Sai Baba had called a group of devotees and was inside the interview room.

I was reading an English translation of the Tamil classic Periya Puranam which my sister had presented to me a few days ago. It was the life story of Thirugnana Sambandar – a child devotee of Lord Shiva. In that particular story, one day, when the father wants to go to the temple tank for a bath and swim, the child, who was barely aged a couple of years, insists on accompanying him.

A tantrum follows and the father is forced to take the child to the temple tank. The father goes for his bath, leaving the child on the tank bund. After sometime, the child starts crying…….

At this moment, Sathya Sai Baba came out of the interview room and putting away the book I was reading, I looked at Him. Sathya Sai Baba came into the Bhajan Hall, went along the aisle, and talked to a devotee at the end of the hall.

When He returned, He looked into my eyes and asked, “Tell me how many litres of milk do you need?” The first thought that came into my mind was that Swami had warned me to reduce my weight six months before, and in fact, had even listed the items to be avoided! Had I failed in the attempt to diet? Swami repeated the same question thrice, and being unable to understand the purport of the question I remained silent.

For sometime after Swami returned to the interview room, His question kept bothering me… ‘Why did He ask me this question?’, I pondered. When, even after intense effort, I could not understand what the question meant, I decided to shelve it for the present, consoling myself that Swami would reveal the true meaning at the appropriate time, and returned to reading the book from where I had left off:

‘….. the child starts crying. It was hungry. Seeing its plight, Shiva and Shakthi appear before the child and the Divine Mother gives the child a golden bowl of milk. When the father returned from the swim, seeing the drops of milk on the child’s face, he questioned the child. The small child, who till then was barely lisping, sings out a poem describing the Divine couple.’

You can imagine my state. I put the book down, as tears of joy filled up my eyes. I was exhilarated when I realized that the very same Shiva and Shakthi had asked me the same question just a few moments ago!

I also realized that it was at the same spot (in the Bhajan Hall), that in 1963, on the Guru Poornima Day, Sathya Sai Baba had declared that His was the incarnation of both Shiva and Shakthi and cured Himself of the paralytic stroke.

To be a child and to enjoy the loving care of the Divine Mother is the greatest of experiences. Once in Trayee Brindavan, Swami was consoling a new student who had just joined that day, and was crying due to home sickness. He said, “I shall take very good care of you like your own mother… ask Ravi here, he knows”.

There is a famous quote which says, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world’ illustrating the supremacy of the mother’s role in shaping the citizens of tomorrow. How lucky all of us are, as the ‘Hand that rules the world, rocks our cradle!’

Reference

The Divine Call From Sathya SaiBaba

Sathya Sai Baba Materialization

Sathya Sai Baba Materialization


The Divine Call From Sathya SaiBaba

When I thought of it, it was really an impossible task to bring my mother, an octogenarian, to the Abode of Supreme Peace and Love, from the distant Himalayan land of Sikkim. But no task remains impossible once His Divine Grace is showered in abundance. A comment passed by a close friend of mine is still vivid in my memory: “You should have taken your mother earlier. Now it seems to be too late for the journey because of her advanced age and ailing health and it may not be possible for her to travel. You may consider it as impossible a task as trying to fill a bamboo cane basket with water.” This in fact hurt my feelings since my dear old mother had been all the time wishing and praying to find refuge at His Lotus Feet in Prasanthi Nilayam for the last five years. Yet I did not lose heart but went on yearning and cherishing like a good optimist with all my unwavering faith in the Divine Grace of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I had given up pessimism since the time I had come to know about Bhagawan; has HE not assured that He will not forsake those who seek refuge in HIM?

Time kept on passing swiftly and my heart too kept on throbbing all the time with a worry as to how to proceed on the long journey. Yet, with a firm and steady faith, I could muster enough courage with all the patience that could be squeezed out of an ever hopeful heart.

Ever since her young days, my mother had been allergic to the smell of petrol and she preferred to travel either on horseback or on foot rather than riding a motor vehicle in which she would feel very uncomfortable and suffered from nausea. Now, due to her old age and physical weakness, travelling by car was ruled out; more over, the doctors advised that she should not travel by plane either, because of her heart trouble. Yet, wonderfully enough, she had much courage in store to travel by all means with a sense of total submission to His Mercy. It was most encouraging to hear from her words that were steeped in devotion. “This time, the Lord will surely listen to my prayers and take me to His Divine Abode.”

In January 1979, I got the rarest opportunity again in my life to be blessed by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Brindavanam. It was a wonderful Interview. My experience at the interview reminds me all the time that even our parents cannot love and care for us so dearly and selflessly as Swami does. His Love is impartial and infinite and He is ever ready to forgive our shortcomings and mistakes. His Love is for each and every being in Creation.

A Great Moment
I prayed to the Lord with hands folded, whether it was possible for me to bring my mother for His Divine Darshan. To my relief and satisfaction, Sathya Sai Baba told me that it was possible without the least doubt and that she could travel without any fear of sickness throughout the journey. A beautiful silver locket was materialised and given to me and Sathya Sai Baba said that I should take it home very carefully to be given to my mother so that it would protect her all the time while proceeding on our journey and also throughout the rest of her life. After this great moment, I was once again back to my home in Gangtok, the capital of our Himalayan country, Sikkim, although my heart did not permit me to leave the portals of His Abode. To be candid with my views and to dwell upon the true experiences of my life, I do not have the least doubt that it is just because of Swami that I have been blessed with a new life, in pursuit of the real Destination.

Dwelling on the first stage of the journey from Gangtok, I would like to share with all the fact that my mother had the vision of our Beloved Lord, who seemed to be keeping pace with the speeding jeep even when she was wide awake. This happened when we were on our way from Rangpo to Tista, the two main check posts on the route from Gangtok to Siliguri, the nearest railway station. It was late in the evening of Monday, the 31st January 1983, when He granted this vision to my mother. The effect was so miraculous that she felt very happy and quite at ease. All the time, she sat in her seat, lost in an inexplicable sea of joy. It was as though the Lord of Parthi had touched her with His Divine magic. She did not feel travel sick or fatigued even as we arrived at Siliguri in the late hours of the night. We found her still fresh, hale and hearty and the arduous journey through the twisting and winding roads had not affected her in any way. We knew that this was the most difficult part of our journey. Yet this visible sign of His care and Grace inspired us to proceed on our journey without worries and fear. After this, the journey was quite pleasant and comfortable, and we arrived at Prasanthi Nilayam, the Divine Abode of Eternal Bliss.

Gifts Of Grace
What followed after reaching Prasanthi Nilayam can only be described as the unfolding of another chapter of how He, our Lord Sai, lives every second of the day for giving His Love to His dear and wayward children, of how He draws them to Him with all the care of a mother nursing her first born child. He granted us interviews, chiding us to crave instead, for the inner-view of our Real Self, the grandeur of the spirit, which would confer upon us the gift of Paramananda. He gave a nice and cosy room for my mother to stay in and also other gifts of His Grace. What more can a child aspire for from a mother. Even to think that the Lord cares so much for every being, even insignificant people like us, who had not been able to offer anything to HIM and had always aspired to achieve His Grace, truly unfolds volumes of His Divine Glory.

Now we all feel that the bird has at last found its refuge. It has no more destinations to reach, no more vistas to explore. This is really the final `homecoming’.

The sentiment of heartfelt gratitude that wells up within the deep recesses of my heart cannot be described in words and yet I feel so grateful to the Lord for all times to come for having opened my eyes from the deep slumber of ignorance to bring me to the path of Light and Truth.

Reference

Mystery Of The Missing Yogi

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


Mystery Of The Missing Yogi

Read up on Giri Naidu’s (12th standard student in Prashanthi Nilayam shcool) experience as published in Sanathana Sarathi, March 1985.

A few days remained for the Navaratri festival to begin at Prasanthi Nilayam. I was at Madras, having no hopes of witnessing the grand celebrations at Parthi.

One night Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba appeared in my dream. The next night too He appeared in my dream and repeated His order, “Leave for Parthi immediately.” I dreamt that I pleaded with Him, “Oh Baba! How to come to You when I am caught in the coils of never ending troubles.” Bhagawan replied, “Nonsense! Come immediately.” I was worried how I could leave for Parthi when my mother and sister were critically ill, and I not much better than they. The day passed while I was in a dilemma.

On the third night again my Lord appeared in my dream but not as Sai Baba, but as Sai Shiva, for He looked at poor me with angry eyes and lashed and thrashed me verbally for not obeying His divine command, and once again He summoned me to Parthi, without regard to my tearful pleadings.

I woke up in the morning dazed. I was unable to make up my mind. But the thought of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba again coming in my dream made me tremble. I dared not keep my head on the pillow, fearing I would fall asleep and He might again appear in my dream and give me another sound verbal thrashing. Somehow I decided to leave for Parthi that very night.

That day Madras seemed to have incurred the wrath of Indra for it rained incessantly. With the help of our sympathetic neighbour, my ailing mother, sister and myself boarded the night bus for Anantapur. We were to reach Anantapur at dawn. We spent the night miserably but waiting for the glorious day to dawn. As the bus sped by, tearing through the dark night I pined to see the golden rays of the sun. My childish emotions overpowered me, for I accused the sun of being lazy and a late riser. It was not too long when my angry accusation turned into prayers too. I prayed to the sun to rise fast at least for my sake. But the sun took his own sweet time, and the day dawned.

The bus was nearing Anantapur when it came to a halt with a sudden jolt. There was a bridge which it had to cross. It was heavily flooded. All around was a scene of destruction. The bus took an hour to cross the flooded bridge, with great difficulty. After we had crossed the bridge, to our great delight we found a bus going to Puttaparthi trying to cross the bridge. Our bus conductor advised us three to quickly get down and board the bus leaving for Parthi, without our going to the Anantapur bus stand. We hurriedly brought our luggage down and boarded the Puttaparthi bus. The latter’s conductor was very hostile. He rudely said, “There is no place, so get off the bus.” When I tried to request him, he took our luggage and threw it out of the bus, and forced us to get down. To our great dismay we found that the Anantapur bus was nowhere in sight and the deserted look all around made me shiver in fright. To my great surprise, as soon as we got down from the bus bound for Parthi, the bus could not move as its engine refused to start. Half of its chassis was in the water and half on dry land. It could neither proceed forward nor go back. It refused to move an inch.

My mother and sister seated themselves on the luggage and were on the verge of collapse. I stood beside the raging river and viewed the angry waters, while mother sat lost in prayer or despair, I do not know. Broken logs of timber rolled and came dashing against the bridge. The corpse of a goat was caught in the swift current of the swirling waters. The dark sky above seemed to be determined on a downpour to drench us, The grim situation cast a gloomy spell on me. I cursed myself for being responsible for the watery grave I had chosen, as I felt our end not far.

Something said within me that the Lord is my host and why should I give myself away to despair and frustration. No sooner had this thought occurred in my mind than I felt the pressure of a hand on my back. I whirled round and saw, “a white long robed yogi with a white beard and matted hair” smiling at me. He had a tender voice and spoke softly. His eyes twinkled and his face shone with splendour. I stood bewitched while he spoke, “Son! You seem to be troubled. Tell me, it may be that I could help you.” Hearing him speak such kind words, I was very much delighted. I told him of the soup that we were in. He gave me a reassuring smile and said, “Is that all! O. K. How many persons are you?” I replied, “There are three of us.” Then I saw him dig his hand into the side pocket of his robe and take out three pink tickets. The smiling yogi said, “I don’t need them, you can take them.” Now with tickets in our hands we boarded the bus that still stood there. As I was boarding the bus, I again felt a pat on my back. I looked behind and saw. It was the smiling yogi. He then uttered these mysterious words, “You go to Puttaparthi and `I’ shall meet you there.” And he hurriedly walked away.

We climbed the bus. The bus conductor gave us a threatening look before he could speak out a word, I showed him the tickets that the yogi gave me, The conductor was shocked and he questioned me, “From where did you get them.” I told him about the yogi. He got down from the bus to look for the yogi. The yogi could be found nowhere. He seemed to have melted into the thin air of the deserted region. The conductor climbed into the bus. He looked shaken. He timidly got three seats vacated and offered them to us. As soon as we took our seats, the engine that had refused to start for two hours miraculously started all of a sudden, and the bus moved towards its destination.

The happy passengers shouted with joy and the air was rent with shouts of JAI SAI RAM!

Reference

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba


George Frideric Handel’s Messiah

On the Sunday morning before Christmas, 1980, as I sat on the sands outside the temple of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi a small tune came into my head. It was a lilting refrain, and it played itself over and over again, insistently, as if asking to be recognized. But I could not remember exactly what it was, nor what words went to it, although this seemed important. All I knew was that it came from somewhere in Handel’s “Messiah”. When I was younger I used to hear this work every year, then later I sang in the chorus on a few occasions. My singing teacher had given me two soprano arias from “Messiah” to practise. And in my own music classes, we often studied it. I had grown to appreciate the magnificent music more and more, but the full impact of the words had come upon me only a few weeks before Christmas,1980.

Before, I had always assumed the entire “Messiah” was about Jesus. But one day six years after knowing about Sai Baba and three years after seeing Him for the first time, I began to wonder. The parts about Jesus were all in the past tense, and the parts about the Lord, for whom a new highway would have to be made in the wilderness, were in the present and the future. Not many days before, I myself had used a road that had only been in existence for a few years, to reach the courtyards of Sai. With me I had brought my musical score of Handel’s “Messiah”, rather the worse for wear, and it lay on my lap as I waited for Baba to come out. With it was a letter asking Baba to confirm my belief that a great deal of this oratorio is about Him, and also asking Him to bless a performance of it one day in His presence. I had begun to envision this grand event, complete with choir, soloists and orchestra under a certain world famous conductor. The idea seemed fantastic, but not unrealizable. I pictured people all over the world practising their parts, then gathering in Puttaparthi to put the finishing touches to the whole, all in the same spirit of love, service and devotion with which Handel wrote the music and Jennens found the words for ‘The Messiah’.

My mind travelled back in time and space from India, 1980, to London in the late summer of 1741. The Governor of Ireland had asked “The Great Mr. Handel”, as he was often called, to write an oratorio for a charitable benefit concert. Handel was wondering what material to use, when a certain Charles Jennens came to him with a libretto for an oratorio made up of texts from the Old and New Testaments that said, in essence: “Prepare for the coming of the Lord in all His glory, for the sacrifice of Christ Jesus was not in vain.”

Jennens could not understand himself why he had been impelled to begin selecting texts from the Bible, nor why he had selected those particular ones. An atmosphere of wonder surrounded the entire creation of “The Messiah”. Handel was so inspired by the libretto that he composed the music in 23 days, hardly stopping to eat or sleep. A servant, tip toeing into his room one evening to take away an untouched supper tray, found him in a state of ecstasy. A glorious vision seemed to be still hovering before his inner gaze, and he said, “I did think I saw all heaven before me, and the Great God Himself.” He had, the legend says, just composed the “Hallelujah” chorus.

Following its premiere for charity in Dublin, ‘The Messiah’ came to London for a royal command performance in a full theatre, before King George II. The first stirring notes of the “Hallelujah” chorus brought the King to his feet, followed by the entire audience. It is still traditional for audiences to rise for this particular chorus.

Having originally composed this music for charity, Handel continued to use it in service of society throughout the rest of his life, giving benefit performances regularly for charities dear to his heart. In his will he left a copy of the musical score and several sets of words to the London Foundling Hospital.

Coming back to the twentieth century and Puttaparthi, I found the persistent little tune still chirping away in my head, asking to be identified. But morning Darshan did not seem the right time or place for games of ‘Guess the Theme’. Sternly banishing the motif as if it were some kind of friendly but superfluous mosquito, I resolved to calm my spirits by looking up an inspiration for the day. Usually, I do this with one of Baba’s recent books, but today all I had with me was ‘The Messiah’. Being full of sacred writings, it should do very well for a change. I then opened my score at random, and found myself looking at none other than my ‘lost’ theme, which had been set to the words, “He is the King of Glory! He is the King of Glory!”

At that precise moment, just as I had read and marvelled at these words, Sai Baba Himself strolled into view on the other side of the courtyard, moving majestically in rhythm to the theme, and glowing in the gold of the morning sun in His scarlet robe. All through in that unique and splendid Darshan, while Baba visited the hosts who had been awaiting Him, and faces opened up like flowers to the sun, I could “hear” with incredible clarity the mighty chorus from which comes my “little” theme:

‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates,’ sing the higher voices of the choir, like herald angels. And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in!”

“Who is this King of Glory? Who is this King of Glory?” inquire the lower voices, those of the men.

“The Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle,” comes the reply from on high. Then all the voices, high and low, unite as if heaven and earth had joined forces, to exult: “He is the King of Glory.”

The music was over and Baba had now nearly completed His stately progress around the ladies’ courtyard. As He arrived at my place in the Darshan line, I held out the score and the letter, wondering what He would do. What He did was beautiful in its simplicity. He placed His hand firmly for a moment on the tattered pages full of the hopes of generations and the visions of prophets since Isaiah, and gave His blessing.

Reference

George Frederick Handel Messiah

George Frederick Handel Messiah