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The Awakening Continent
"I have resolved to enfold the people of the world in the fostering care of Universal Love as laid down in the Vedas. For the world is My mansion and the Continents are the halls therein. I have come to inscribe a golden chapter in the history of humanity, wherein falsehood will fail, truth will triumph, and virtue will reign. Character will confer power then, not knowledge or inventive skill or wealth. Wisdom will be enthroned in the Councils of Nations."
"Do not be misled. It is not my purpose to strike men dumb by the display of miraculous might! I have come to confer the boon of blessedness, the benediction of bliss, as the reward for genuine spiritual endeavour, and to lead mankind into Liberty, Light and Love."
With those words, Baba concluded His revelation of Himself and His Mission on Earth, which thrilled the 1700 delegates privileged to listen to Him.
On the last day of June, barely fifty days after this announcement, Baba emplaned the Boeing leaving for East Africa from Bombay. This was His first voyage beyond the confines of India, that is to say, accomplished physically, announced in advance, and undertaken with members of His entourage.
He was going to the infant Republics of a Continent that was just emerging into the dawn. He was to confer courage and consolation, to knit hearts and quicken the circulation of Love! Baba always rushes to where aspiration calls, or anxiety gasps.
The citizens of Bombay at a mammoth Public Meeting convened at Dharmakshetra bade Him farewell on the 29th of June. Later, at the Airport, crowds spilled over the terrace, pushed through to the tarmac area in thousands and used every atom of enthusiasm to cheer Him as the plane took off!
Flying at 590 miles an hour at altitudes of over 35,000 feet, Baba was busy in the Boeing, granting the passengers, (many of whom had boarded the flight on purpose) signs of Grace, such as autographing a book or photograph, materialising a handful of curative ash, or furnishing illuminating answers to solve personal problems of every kind.
Bob Raymer of Los Angeles, a member of the party, saw Baba keep both His feet pressed on the slanting back of the empty seat just ahead of Him; he did not miss the chance; he clicked twice and got two pictures of the Lotus Feet, which millions adore. At this Baba pulled out one of the cards from the pocket behind His seat and wrote an affectionate admonition, sending it to "Bob, Boeing 707!" Bob responded with apology cum adoration, through another picture card; "The sky is blue, the ocean too; our wish has come true, we are flying with You!"
In fact, the sky was not always blue. It was mostly murky, what with the huge concourse of slow-moving monsoon clouds on their way to India. The sea mirrored the sky; there was an occasional zigzag of silver ripple upon its surface. One felt as if the plane hung in mid-air, while sea and land were pulled away from underneath by an unseen hand. Soon, gleaming streaks of rocks and boulders and blotches of greenery were visible as far as the eye could see. But fluffs of cloud soon hid the ground. Mount Kenya was announced! We saw only its jagged crown of blue, over the sea of milk.
In a moment, that sea was over us! Below us, scintillating in, and reflecting the sun, was a quilt of red and brown roofs, Nairobi! The clock showed four minutes to twelve, while our watches insisted it was already 2.24 p.m.
Baba at the door was greeted - "Nandalala! Yadu Nandalala!" spontaneously from the yearning hearts of thousands perched on all available vantage points. While we of the party waded past the counters and through the corridors, filling forms, and having certificates stamped and signed, climbing over the routine hurdles, Baba was whisked away in floral automobile by Dr. C. G. Patel into the gathering from which the welcoming Bhajan had emanated.
"It was a feast for the eye and ear - the scene where they showered flowers, and waved lights, when they sang melodiously and from the depths of their hearts," Baba said, "I was reminded of the days when Jayadeva and Gouranga sang the Glory," He wrote.
We had to proceed to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda - the State known as the 'Pearl of Africa.' The road was 407 miles long. The cars sped on, encouraged by the fine unbending road through miles of delightful scenery.
The motto of the State of Kenya (through which we passed until night enveloped us), is 'Marambee': "Let's pull together," and this spirit was evidenced all along the route in wheat-fields, cattle plantations and groups of village-folk on the way side, brimming with vitality. They were merrily dancing along with leafy boughs in their grasp, which they shook vigorously at the sky.
The tedium of dreary hours of travel was made less monotonous by the beautiful avenues of trees through which we passed. Their restful green together with the coolness of air as we climbed higher and higher, was comforting. The rains that come upon this land all the months of the year have mothered a succession of gurgling streams and fresh water lakes.
We had a glimpse of the Rift Valley about which I had read when teaching Anthropology in my college at Mysore. Two thousand feet below us it gaped, with sheer escarpments for its banks! We saw the soda lake, Nakuru, and the town bearing its name. A sizeable gathering of eager Africans and Indians awaited Baba there; they were rewarded with Darsan. Baba moved among them, and discovering a few who needed Vibhuti, He created in and blessed them.
From Malaba, on the border of Uganda, an impressive pilot car preceded the car of Baba, as a sign and symbol of His being welcomed by the rulers of that State. The cars drove on to Jinja, where the Nile emerges out of the womb of Lake Victoria, and, channelled through turbines, flows on the North to fulfil its vow of a 3500-mile pilgrimage to the Mediterranean Sea.
Kampala was reached at 1-30 a.m., hardly the hour for a hearty welcome by a cheering throng. But Baba is a category by Himself. Wildly waving banners of silken welcome stretched across the streets; every few yards a floral arch (someone of the party counted exactly 108) beamed with lights as Baba passed through. Outside Dr. Patel's bungalow, 2000 people continued their Bhajan, singing with unabated ardour in the hope that Baba would give them the coveted Darsan. And Baba did not disappoint them. Alighting, He walked slowly amidst them, feasting the eye and delighting the heart. Their restraint and reverence were exemplary.
Never had Kampala yearned so excruciatingly for daybreak as on that night! For the city knew that Baba had arrived and would be granting Darsan when the sun rose. Baba came out early next morning; He stood facing the unprecedented massive gathering. He moved, lithe and lovely, along the passage between the barricaded blocks of people, showering upon everyone His supreme Compassion.
When He saw a sad face, or heard a groan of distress, He stood for a moment, waved His hand gently, and created for the person the Divine Cure. He went up to the lines of standing Africans on the margins of the assembly; He held many by the hand and brought them Himself into the shade among the others so that they may sit in comfort, listening to the community singing of the Bhajans. We felt that those were the devotees who prevailed upon Baba to fly across the sea and give health and happiness by personal ministration.
"I have no need to see places. I am everywhere, always!" Baba told us. "You may drive around. I have my work, work for which I have come." But Dr. Patel persuaded Him to visit the Hindu temple, the Bahai House of Worship and the Television Tower Hill. While driving down, He summoned the six-foot Police Constable acting as motorcycle escort, and created for him a charming locket with the picture of Christ, to be worn around the neck. He knew the man was a Christian.
Baba has come to fulfil, not to destroy or to disturb, man's faith in God. His love brooks no barriers, no boundaries, no walls separating 'ism from ism.' During the Bhajans, He selected the sick and the disabled, the deaf and the dumb, the blind and the maimed, and, taking them into the bungalow, He spoke to each one with love and tenderness. He spoke in Swahili, in English or Hindi, and gave each some token of Grace - holy ash, talismans, lockets with His own portrait or the picture of Christ or some sacred design. Everyone who came out of the room had a smile on the face, a twinkle in the eye, a ray of sunshine in the heart, and firmness in the step. A person who was stone deaf when he went in, came out wonder-struck at the amazing world of sound. A polio-affected boy came prancing outside; a patient who was wheeled into the 'Room of Hope' walked out, his hands on the shoulders of his companions, while a volunteer pushed the empty chair out of the gate.
The third day of July was a memorable one. First, the flight to Ngorongoro Crater. It is the largest concentration of wild life in Africa. Reaching the Entebbe International Airport by car, Baba, with some members of the party boarded a twin-engined aircraft at 9 a.m., while three of us having full faith in Him, brushed aside the fear aroused by overzealous friends who warned that a single engine plane was not the craft that one would choose to fly over a jungle, teeming with wild life!
We followed Baba in that frail super-wagon, piloted by a veteran Britisher who oozed confidence all the time. For an hour and a half we flew over the immense inland sea of fresh water - Lake Victoria - which the Nile attempts in vain to drain. We could see hundreds of gazelles, zebras, and wild beasts while our vehicle flew slowly over the Serengeti National Park. The Crater is a huge circular plain, over 127 square miles of grassland, bush and forest, sheltering large masses of wild life. A few Masai Manyattas, stock full of fat cattle were to be found in this fantastic milieu.
As we drove from the airstrip, to the Crater Lodge, a family of wild elephants received us with the gentle flapping of broad ears and an array of ivory tusks gleaming in the pre-noon sun. Landrovers took us into thick shoals of wild buffaloes, zebras and gnus. Soon we entered the haunts of the Simba (lion). From within the safety of the cars we admired a heavyweight male yawning on a mound, and very nearly ran over a pair of fat females having their siesta amidst the grass! We came upon more such families, and soon they endeared themselves to us. Baba had come to bless them, we felt. Rising up almost from nowhere, a stately dowager lioness walked majestically towards a group of sleek giraffes. This onset of danger was communicated to the long-necked fraternity by some birds, and they, in their turn, alerted the buffalo, zebra and gnu! In a few seconds, they disappeared into the distance and the distinguished lady stood, sniffing the empty air!
Baba drew our attention to this demonstration of mutual service. He said man is highlighting the advantages of competition and the struggle for survival, but the beast is teaching him co-operation and service as the ideal means for survival.
We took off from the Crater at four o'clock in the afternoon, and when we neared Lake Natron, the planes flew perilously over a newly formed volcano, emitting incense to the God of Fire! Our 'mini' wagon hovered a while, awaiting a signal from the airport over the Nairobi National Park giving us a bird's eye-view of giraffes and ostriches, before landing at Embakasi.
Baba's car crawled through the crowded roads of Nairobi to the park where He was to address His first public meeting in Africa. The rush of listeners was without parallel in the annals of Kenya, for no visitor until now had such universal appeal. People loyal to a single faith, or to all faiths, sceptics and Sadhaks, scientists and spiritualists, men, and women from all walks of life were there, filled with eagerness to see Him and hear Him, and if possible, to be accepted by Him. Baba builds His shrine in every heart with the brick of Truth and the mortar of Love.
His discourse stressed that each human being, in fact each being, was "a spark of the Divine Effulgence, a wave of the Divine Glory." He advised all to see beneath the skin, within the physical, mental, and even intellectual encasements. "This habitation of flesh and bone, of fear and feeling, of doubt and desire, is the residence of the One Indivisible, All-pervading God." Baba knows that this vision is the strongest basis and the surest means for ensuring racial and regional harmony.
Baba returned to His residence and blessed the enormous gathering that surged around it. Later, He sat before the Television set which some members of His Party were seeing for the first time. The programme that was then on led to a discourse by Baba on the evil sown by that medium. Baba said that it blunted the higher impulses and activated the lower. "The aim of the sponsors is to bring more and more people before the receivers; so standards get more and more vulgarised and this valuable instrument of education is reduced into televisham (tele-poison!)," He said. Baba is a relentless opponent of films, comic strips, and horror serials that sow the seeds of sensualism, anarchy, greed and bloodthirstiness in virgin minds.
Nairobi is the only City in the world which has a suburb owned and inhabited by Lions! It awakens every day to the full and free roar of these regal cats. On the 5th of July, early in the day, we went into the National Park and proceeded to the Hippo Pool. There was a busy school of these monsters, and also a few crocodiles basking quite near. This led Baba to point out to us how the beast is wiser than man in the art of living. "We slaughter our own kind, for the greater glory of ourselves!" He said.
While driving back from the Pool, we saw two magnificently maned lions, and three well-groomed lionesses basking indolently in the sun. They did not wince at all when a dozen cameras clicked. Instead, they preened themselves like stars surrounded by fans! We also watched many ostriches, and giraffes hurrying in uncouth haste to some mysterious rendezvous.
After lunch, Dr. Patel took Baba and the party in cars to Nanyuki, 6400 feet above sea level - a town where, if you have the poetry in you, you can experience the thrill of having one foot in the Southern Hemisphere, and the other in the Northern, for the Equator passes through the place! In fact, a hotel here boasts that the Line passes through its veranda.
The road to Nanyuki showed us coffee and sisal plantations; thatched huts of the Kikuyu peeped furtively at our cars. In Secret Valley, we stayed at 'Tree Tops,' built on high stilts, from where at night, under an artificial moon, we could see leopards mauling meat, bisons licking salt, and elephants, gazelles and other beasts showing themselves off and generally enjoying themselves.
It was Thursday; so, Baba turned us away from elephantine fantasies, and the antics of animals. He took us, instead, into the jungle of our own minds and described how the wild beasts sheltering there could be trapped. He told us about the discipline that can quieten and domesticate them. Suddenly, with a circular gesture, He created a jewel with the imprint of His portrait, and placed it in the hands of the person sitting by His side. Here! Wear it! For many years you have longed for this. Then turning to us He said, "Oh, each of you wants something, don't you?" And the hand waved again. There was a golden vessel in His Hand now. When He unscrewed the lid, it was full to the brim - Divine Ambrosia! Fragrant beyond imagination - thick, sweet liquid Grace!
Next morning, on the road back to Nairobi, Baba alighted at Nanyuki and many other towns and villages, where crowds were waiting for Him. He wondered, "Who has informed these people that I would be passing this way?" They must have sensed it through His compassion; that was the only explanation we could offer. About noon, Baba and others boarded the waiting aircraft, and flying over the Rift Valley, the famous Kenya Highlands, and the inland Port of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, reached Entebbe.
Baba's Presence at Kampala was utilised by many for receiving Blessings and Counsel. The High Commissioner of India, Shri K.P.R. Singh, the Chief of Staff of the Uganda Army, General Idi Amin, the Minister of Defence, Mr. Onama, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Ojira, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Bataringaya, the Inspector of Police, Mr. Oryema, and other African leaders met Him at Dr. Patel's residence and obtained a glimpse of the Glory of Baba. During His stay He addressed gatherings of Lions and Rotarians, Doctors, Businessmen, and members and workers of service organisations. He replied with His natural gentleness, sweetness and sense of humour, even intimate personal questions from those who participated. Towards the close of each of the meetings, He moved among the participants creating and distributing to those around Him portraits in enamel or gold, of Christ for the Christians, Guru Nanak for the Sikhs, Zarathustra for the Parsis, and of Himself for those who yearned for them. He spoke lovingly and for long to a group of students from Makrere University and stood amidst them, when they wanted a photograph with Him.
During the group meetings, a variety of questions were asked. "If there is a God, why cannot we see Him?" Baba replied, "Why should you seek to see God? You are God. There is nothing that is not He. Experience Him that way." "How can we be happy always?" Baba said, "Derive joy from within. You are the Atma, the eternal spring of Ananda. Love all; no one will then hate you or envy you." He said to the doctors: "Jealousy is the professional disease of doctors and lawyers! Be glad when another doctor earns a good reputation or remuneration; honour the affirmations you made at the Convocation where you took you degree."
On the 7th, Baba addressed the first public meeting at Kampala. He told the multiracial, multi-credal gathering, "Just as the same bloodstream circulates in all the limbs of the one body, the One Divine Principle activates the entire Universe. Do not get too involved in the turmoil of living and ignore the kinship in God that you have with all beings around you. Do not overemphasise individual variations, but fix your attention on the universal kinship. Ignore the beads, contemplate upon the unifying eternal ever-present thread." This was a heartening message, and it was received with enthusiastic approval by Muslims, Christians, Bahais, Hindus and Parsis alike.
On the 8th of July, Baba addressed another vast gathering at Kampala. He said, "Here in Kampala, I shall pinpoint the basic requisites for a good, contented and happy life." He elaborated the discipline essential for it, like Dhyana and Prema, meditation and love. "Love is Power; Love is Bliss; Love is Light; Love is God," Baba said.
These discourses bound Baba close to the hearts of the Africans. People recognised in Him a friend, a guide, a leader and a light. But word had spread that Baba was leaving on the 10th for India, since that was the day of Guru Poornima. So that evening when Baba moved among the thousands seated in the Pandal, rows of Africans knelt, handing notes and letters to Him, some with tearful pleas. Looking through a window of Dr. Patel's bungalow at the faces filled with adoration, I could not suppress my tears. I was overcome by a delightful sense of gratitude for the opportunity Baba gave me to witness this spontaneous surge of devotion in a new continent. I was awakened from my reverie a by light tap on my back from Baba who enquired, "Why the tears?" The notes and letters were filled with sorrow, for the Africans had learnt that Baba planned to leave for Bombay on the 10th. "Father, do not leave us so soon!" was the plaint in every prayer.
India was informed by cable that the return was postponed.
The full moon day, when spiritual aspirants dedicate themselves anew at the Feet of the Master, was on the 10th. Baba had told Bombay that He would reach that City by plane at 9-45 p.m. leaving Kampala at 11 a.m., so that both Africa and Asia would have the thrill of His Darsan on the same day! But, yielding to the yearning of the Africans, He decided to spend the whole day at Kampala, granting devotees in other Continents other evidences of His Omnipresence.
More than 25,000 persons gathered that morning for the Bhajan. The Africans joined the chorus led by a Tanzanian, Mr. Zoodoo. For over two hours, Baba walked slowly among the lines of lonely, love-seeking eager hearts, giving each person a handful of sweets and a packet of Vibhuti. To the amazement of the recipients, most of them discovered inside the packet, lying ensconced in the midst of the holy ash, enamel or metal portraits of Christ, the Cross, Krishna or Sai Baba Himself. The "Uganda Argus" published an article, announcing that Baba had brought the message of Unity and Service, to the peoples of that Continent. Baba's discourses as well as activities were also televised and broadcast, so that the entire population could share the inspiration of the Gospel.
On the evening of the tenth day of July, Baba talked to about 200 young men and women, who served as volunteers at the Bhajan gatherings and at Public Meetings. The constables on duty as well as the chauffeur of the pilot car were also rewarded by His Grace. Baba appreciated the spirit of service and the intelligence of the youth of Kampala. He spoke about them later at Bombay on His return. "They had no previous experience in controlling and guiding such vast congregations; they had no training; they were their own guides, but they behaved with exemplary patience and alertness. They worked tirelessly, round the clock, with smart team work," He said.
On the 11th, besides the Bhajan sessions, for which, as days passed, more and more people from far and near flowed into the Capital, Baba met groups of Sadhakas and active workers in service organisations, from the far flung States of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Later, Baba visited Dr. Patel's Clinic and also the residences of many ardent devotees. Wherever he went, throngs of people, eager to win one more glimpse of the Radiance, rushed in and stood at the gates or on the pavements for hours.
On the 12th, Baba proceeded to the Murchison Falls National Park, one of the most beautiful and fauna-stocked regions of East Africa. The straight road, leaping over the shoulders of a series of hills, tempted the person who was at the wheel of our car to race and overtake every car that moved in front. We were catapulting so fast, that a sudden turn of the road found the car rolling madly over and over, finally coming to rest on its jammed wheels in agonised silence.
Baba's car had gone on beyond Masindi which was some 30 miles distant. He said to the people in His car, "The second car has trouble. They will resume their journey in a taxi!"
We four were thrown against roof and floor, receiving knocks, bumps, hits and cuts, we did not know where! The man at the wheel fell out; the friend on his left struggled to open the stuck door with his uninjured left arm. The cushion from the back seat was on my head, wedged between it and the caved-in top! I found myself sitting astride on the chest of my companion, with blood trickling on his shirt from a long gash upon my forehead, caused by my glasses getting broken there when I knocked myself against I do not know what!
The third car came up in utter bewilderment, and friends gently pulled us out. There was a hospital right where the car had presented us with this surprise item - "Kasturi Falls" - not included in the original programme! I went in there on my own, despite the bleeding gash, the black eye, the cut on the left leg, the huge lump on the right! I was the man who was worst hit, thank Baba! The entry, as made by the African doctor on the hospital O. P. Form (which I still have, though it is clearly printed thereon 'This Form is the property of the Hospital') is dated 12-7-1968. Name: Kasturi. O.P. No. 11112/68. Diagnosis: Minor cuts. (Baba's Grace!) Treatment: Surgical Toilet. Inj. Anti-Toxoid 1500."
I lived to laugh at myself for so helplessly bouncing inside a speed-intoxicated car, and landing on my neighbour's chest! Speed goeth before a fall! Baba always advises, "Start early; drive slowly; reach safely!"
The fatal corner in front of that hospital I shall remember until memory lapses. The name of the place is as potent as a charm; its charisma is remarkable. Repeating that name might avert future automobile misadventures for me. Nakkasongola! That is the word for the place. It is a thaumaturgical polysyllable! I wish some day to plant a stone on that spot inscribed - "Here four men called out Sairam! They were saved."
We packed ourselves thick in the third car and reached Masindi. From there, we hired a taxi and moved on towards Baba. When we neared the Park, we saw the welcome poster: "Elephants have the right of way!" It meant that we could see some herds during the day.
We found a pair of gigantic bisons eyeing us rather wickedly, munching roadside grass. Our cars were ferried across the wide green Nile, and passing between two live Tembos (Swahili, for elephant) with sharp white tusks about five feet long, we rushed into Pra Safari Lodge; Baba came forward to pat us and pet us, while listening to our description of the accident of which He already knew.
Oh! it was worth all the panic and pandemonium inside the car! No mortal mother could have been more compassionate towards her injured child. The curative Vibhuti was ready. He applied it Himself on the cuts. He used His own handkerchief as a bandage for my eyes. He created ointments and tablets out of nowhere. He pressed, or rubbed the spots of pain gently. He drew us near with affectionate consolation. He gave us the strength to dismiss the picture from our minds. I thanked Nakkasongola and the person who drove our car, for this unique gift of Divine Tenderness.
Within minutes we went for a motorboat ride up the Nile, for over fifteen miles, towards the Murchison Falls, and back. The boat passed through 'schools' of hippos lying close together, showing just their eyes, ear tips and occasionally their noses, above the water! Some of them were on land, with red, barrel-like hippolets behind them peeping through the thick papyrus reeds. There were crocodiles too, with open jaws, but the vicious tail and voracious jaw did not frighten the juicy Hippos in the least.
We saw crocodiles in the water and hundreds on the shore, perhaps even thousands, for the shore seemed alive with crocodiles from one end to the other. Winston Churchill, who had plodded, through these jungles and boated along this stretch of the Nile in his youth, fired a shot from his gun at one of the sleeping saurians. "At the sound of the shot," wrote Churchill, "the whole of the bank of the river, which before was a long brown line of mud, rushed madly into the Nile. At least a thousand of these crocodiles had been awakened and astonished by that single shot." Baba noticed may plovers hopping about the crocodile area, a few daring even to perch inside the horrible teethy traps! He said, "Look at the mutual service that bird and beast are rendering to each other!" Yes, the plovers are the only species of the birds that are tolerated and even welcomed by the crocodiles; they eat the parasites off their scales and pick the decaying bits of food from between those deadly teeth!
Returning to Pra Safari, and re-crossing the Nile, our cars took us through elephant-land to the Nile above the falls. Herds of thirty or forty elephants looked from a distance like flocks of sheep grazing on the downs, but when we neared them, the sight filled us with awe and amazement. A bull stood a few yards away from the car wherein Baba was, and to give him a good Darsan, Baba stood on the footboard! It appeared as if he was highly grateful, for, he stood there gazing a few minutes, filling his little eyes with the loveliness, then turning back, quickly joined the herd.
We could hear the loud incessant hum of the Falls at many a turn of the road; as we neared, it became a thunderous roar, and suddenly - there were the Falls! Small groups of Africans were dancing on the river bank in wild ecstasy. The Africans are seldom still. They trip it as they go to the tune of some lilt.
The Murchison Falls are furious and fascinating. The Nile comes foaming and rapid, down a continuous stairway until the bed contracts suddenly into a gap in the rock, barely six yards wide; through this strangling portal the tremendous river is shot in one single jet, down a depth of 160 feet, into a chasm of terror and beauty. Baba was happy that we could see the sublime scene. Bob Raymer got a series of lovely pictures of Baba before these waters. Returning to Masindi through a road rendered slushy with a thick shower of rain, we had to slacken speed to avoid skidding. Elephants crossing the highway were another cause of delay.
From Masindi we proceeded to Kikondo, 80 miles away, where a Bhajan Mandir, in authentic Afro-architectural style built by a devotee, was to be inaugurated. It was a large estate, growing paddy, sugarcane and bananas. The Mandir was full of squatting African labourers, who venerated Baba as the God-man from the East. Baba sat on the special seat arranged for Him, but soon He was among the Kisans, creating and distributing sweets and curatives.
He told the gathering of Africans and Indians that man alone among the animals had strayed from his allotted tasks; the rest struck to their Dharma, whatever the obstacle. The tiger will never stoop to eating grass; the elephant can never be tempted to have a meal of fish or flesh. But man, the crown of creation, is grovelling in the mire of bestiality and, withal, proud of it.
Kampala was reached at 1 p.m. The lateness of the hour only whetted the appetite for Darsan of the thousands who were waiting there, busy with Bhajans, Baba gave them the much coveted gift, walking among them and standing on the decorated dais long enough to satisfy them.
The 13th of July was a day of growing gloom, though everyone had the chance of Darsan, Sparsan, Sambhashana (seeing, touching the holy feet, and listening). From Mwaza, Daressalam, Mombasa and Eldoret people came to persuade Baba to visit their places. The Mayor of Kampala pleaded for a short extension of the stay. Baba is always everywhere. He reveals His Presence to all who call on Him, or even to many who are unaware that God is amidst them for their sake. So, for Baba there is no going or coming, no arriving or leaving. Still, the physical presence wins such indelible loyalty that one feels an orphan without it.
On the 14th, hours before dawn, half of Kampala was at Dr. Patel's door. Streams of cars and planes, brought people from Jinja, Mbale, Kakira, Kabale, Ikaye, and Kapila where Sathya Sai Seva Samithis and Bhajan Mandalis were active. "I have no desire to stun or shock people into submission or adulation; I have come to install Truth and Love in human hearts," Baba declared. Therefore, thousands prayed that He should stay on, or if that was not possible, at least come again very soon.
When He got into the car, even the hefty constables on duty, keeping back the surging rows of citizens, wiped the tears streaming from their eyes! Baba patted their backs, but that only sharpened the pang! The road to Entebbe was choked with cars, trucks, scooters and cycles. The East African Airways Plane which was to take Baba to Nairobi (where the Air India International Boeing was waiting) developed a small trouble while moving on the runway; so Kampala got a bonus of two more hours with Baba on its soil! The motto of the State of Uganda is "For God, and my country." And Baba blessed the people who bore it.
Nairobi was reached at 2.30 p.m. and the thousands who acclaimed the plane were rewarded by a quick Darsan, since the delay prompted the airport officers to set the Boeing on its way immediately. We flew over Ethiopia and Somaliland, ferried across the Red Sea at a height of over two miles and a half, and landed at Aden at 5.15 p.m. Bombay was 1910 miles away and two hours and forty minutes ahead!
Though Baba did not disembark and though the date of the flight had been postponed while at Kampala, we were surprised to find a long line of devotees and admirers (Indians and Arabs) filing into the aircraft and touching the Lotus Feet. Baba spoke to them with sweet affection; He created holy healing Ash for their sake.
At 12.45 a.m., Indian Standard Time, the plane, which had the unique good fortune of carrying the most precious cargo that the world offers in this age, touched ground at Santa Cruz, starting off a chorus of Jais from over ten thousand quickly pounding hearts.
On the 15th, Baba addressed a mammoth gathering at Dharmakshetra which was presided over by Dr. K.M. Munshi. Dr. Munshi could not suppress his tears of joy and gratitude, when he said, "I was pained to see around me the quick decline of faith in God and earnestness in religion, and I was on the brink of despair when I contemplated the future of this ancient land. But, as I look upon Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and witness the transformation He is effecting in the hearts of millions, I am heartened and happy." Baba declared that racial conflicts and animosities spring from sheer ignorance of the basic brotherhood of man.
He related the heart-rending story of Karana, the eldest of the Pandavas. His mother cast her first-born into the Ganges; it floated downstream and was rescued by a charioteer who fostered the child as his own. He took him to the court of the Kaurava cousins, who had vowed eternal vengeance on the Pandavas. Karna grew up as the very right hand of the Kaurava group. The Pandavas hated him and fought him, determined to destroy him, no matter what the cost. They succeeded at last. It was only then that they learnt that Karana was their eldest brother born of the same womb! O how they lamented, repented and cursed themselves!
All men are brothers; they owe love, service and reverence to one another; but they are not aware of this Truth, and so they hate, they fight, they kill, they poison themselves by revenge. "Triumph over another is only another name for self-humiliation," Baba said.
"It was this Truth, this Unity, often misunderstood as diversity when seen through ego glasses, that was propagated by Me in East Africa," declared Baba. "The people whom I met there and those who listened to my discourses and talks had a glimpse of the Reality upon which the waves of joy and grief, of gain and loss, of travail and triumph, alternately rise and fall."
"Many of them told me that the vision of the Indian Sages alone can save them and fill the heart with Peace. The splendour of the genuine culture of India will spread in this manner from continent to continent, from country to country, from community to community, continuously in the days to come. That is my Task. That is my Will," He said.
Months later, a Muganda teacher wrote from Africa, "Baba! redeem me, deliver me from grief! One of my best friends was fortunate to touch the hem of your robe, while you walked near him. He directed me to pray to You and to save myself from sorrow." An aspirant from Mukono wrote, "O Lord! Give me the strength to forgive those who harm me; make me forget the injury I receive from them." A Roman Catholic from Sierra Leone writes, "Many of His sayings I have inscribed in a little notebook and I often refer to it when I am in need of consolation or guidance. Some day, if it is His will, I may have the good fortune to come to Prasanthi Nilayam. Or perhaps it may never be - but I shall continue, in my own way to try to cultivate an ever-increasing awareness of God."
These are intimations of the wonderful transmutation of urges, the sublimation of impulses, inclinations and attitudes, the touch of His Robe, or the touching of His Feet - a chance perusal of a book by Him, or about Him - a word or two from Him, or the grateful acceptance of a glance from His Eye can bring about in man.
May the Light of His Love illumine our hearts too, and may the whole world shine in that eternal effulgence.