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Filling the Emptiness
Addressing a huge gathering in Kampala, the heart of Africa, Baba said, on the 8th of July, 1968, "Embodiments of Love, cultivate love undimmed by selfish motives, and live up to your name and heritage. Learn the international language of the heart, and spell it out in action. Your neighbours too pray to the same God in anguish, for favours. They may be speaking in different languages, their pose at the hour of worship may vary as well; but their physical needs are the same as yours, and they are satisfied by the same type of food and drink. Try and sympathise with them when they are in great difficulty and feel happy when they are joyous. Share their joy; sharing transforms joy into bliss - Ananda. Let your love expand towards entire creation. Stagnant water becomes foul; so, let in flow. Love is joy, love is power, love is light, love is God."
"My life is My Message," Baba says. Being Himself the embodiment of love, He teaches us to love all unselfishly, and declares that each one of us can become God, Madhava, through love. He often says that "If you want to label Me, then call Me, Premaswarup."
It is through pure love that Baba transforms us from selfishness to unselfishness, from contraction to expansion. "I am so happy that I am able to be of service to the Lord. It is my joy to be acting as Secretary for the Book Centre. Since learning about Baba, our entire lives have been changed. We never knew such happiness before. It is such a joy to be serving Him even in a small way." On Christmas Eve, Gary and Sharon held a Bhajan meeting in their home. The most wonderful thing happened to them while they were preparing for the meeting. Sharon was packing small packets of Vibhuti, and all of a sudden she saw something odd - sort of hard - in the Vibhuti. It was a tiny medal with Baba's picture on it. Gary was so happy and so was Sharon. They were so happy that Baba gave them this blessing on Christmas Eve! We were so happy for them.
"Actually His miracles that are really wonderful are the ones He performs in the consciousness and lives of His devotees. He changes you so gently and gradually that you do not even realise that anything is happening until one morning you really take a good look at yourself and see that you have changed. This is the real miracle. One day you realise that you much happier than usual and you have lost some of your bad habits and gained a few good ones," writes Dorris Babb, Secretary of Sri Sathya Sai Book Centre of America, Tustin, California.
Swami Karunyanandaji is the founder President of a vast organisation for Seva that has grown on the banks of the Godavari at Rajahmundry. This Organisation, established 45 years back, has set up a Leprosy Hospital and a Home for the destitute and the disabled.
One morning the Swami came out of his residence and found a young woman in extreme distress; she had been escorted by an unknown sympathiser from Palasa by train. She had a two-year-old daughter in her arms. He got her admitted into hospital and took the child to the hostel entrusting its care to the women inmates. Her condition improved rapidly for she was due to give birth to a child within a week. There was a portrait of Baba hung on the wall of the hospital, in which He is playfully leaning against a coconut tree. In this picture Baba appears more as Sakthi. This pose was known as the Sadhuvamma Pose, meaning Saintly Woman. It was perhaps just the right picture for the patient, whose recovery and her impending confinement were being looked after by Baba from that picture.
One evening, those in charge of the clinic went to see a movie, and when they returned they found that the woman had given birth to a son. The baby was washed and wrapped in white towels and kept in a cradle. The mother had received due attention. They were filled with surprise and on asking her who had come, she replied pointing to the picture, "She had taken care of me at the critical moment. She has gone to attend to another patient and will be back soon." That is the measure of His love. To help the helpless is the only way to please, follow and reach Him.
In February, 1969, four tribal leaders from the villages, of Rumgong, Panya, Disi and Jining, in NEFA, along with Sri Boken Ette, Political Assistant, an Architect, and a Deputy Secretary of NEFA came to Prasanthi Nilayam. Later in the afternoon they were selected for an interview along with some foreigners and some persons from Goa. The party remained with Baba for about two hours. Baba spoke to them on spiritual matters and thereafter each one was granted a private interview through which they found solace, and were encouraged to replan their future lives. The Deputy Secretary writes, "As we sat on the floor, Baba Himself sat amongst us, and not on the chair kept for Him. The room was hot because the fan did not work due to the failure of electricity. When the wife of the Chief Secretary of Goa attempted to fan Him with her folding fan, He said that it was not right to do so when others were suffering that heat. The room was too small to accommodate 22 persons. So Baba drew us nearer and we found the atmosphere conducive and homely. In the August presence of Baba, language is not a barrier in understanding the international language which flows from the loving heart of Baba. His spiritual declarations were grasped by each one of us directly and personally, corresponding to the colour of our minds. When an English lady said that she was unable to concentrate, Baba promptly materialised a red heartshaped article by a wave of His hand saying, "This represents your heart, it will help you to concentrate." He also created a diamond ring for the wife of the Chief Secretary saying that she would be able to see Him in it. He said, "This is die-mind (!) not diamond. Meditation on God results in the elimination of the desires that now make up the mind and its sport." This was fine spiritual Upadesh indeed! He created a talisman to cure the illness of another woman from Goa, and a handful of sweet Prasad for all of us. He poured the sacred ash, which He created, into the palm of a tribal leader and asked him to apply it on the foreheads of everyone of us. Another wave produced 8 pictures of Him which He gave to each one of us.
Thereafter He took each one of us aside for a private interview. We were amazed to find that He knew all our problems and ailments, and also prescribed remedies for them. Sri Boken Ette sought His blessings and advice for the construction of a Sun and Moon Temple in their tribal area in response to the wishes of the people there. Baba told him that opinions differed amongst the people as to what should be installed in the proposed temple. As we were standing, He with a vigorous sidewise circular motion of His two hands materialised a disc on the spot with the Sun and the Moon embossed on it. It was a sheet of alloy of five metals, gold, silver, copper, brass and iron, the Panchaloha, out of which temple idols have to be made. "This disc should be installed in the temple and should be worshipped on every Sunday as well as on every Full-Moon day. Light a perpetual oil lamp at the altar." He suggested. "Animal sacrifice does not propitiate God, Subdue animality, sublimating it with the reason endowed to man by God. If you must perform the literal ritual, then do so outside the temple," He said. Advising on the plan for the temple, Baba drew an outline, drawing a circle in front of the central shrine for the tribal dances. The Architect in the party was pleasantly surprised."
After a private interview one is left with a feeling that Baba is certainly with you. Being All-knowing, Baba told Sri Boken Ette that he had halted at Calcutta to get himself medically examined by eminent specialists and seek their help for the cure of a malady that had defied the doctors of Dibrugarh. He gave him some packets of curative Vibhuti which relieved him with the intake of the first packet. Since then there had been no relapse. The tribal leaders were recipients of the love of God. "Love asked, and Love gave." Baba says: "When father gives gifts to us, he does not give with pride or in the hope of requittal."
It is this everflowing stream of love that fertilises our desert heart with faith, hope and charity and culminates in the experience of Bliss. Dr. B. Janakirama Rao wrote to me about an instance of infinite Love. "At 2 a.m. Dr. K. Bhaskara Rao and I were with a patient whose pulse could not be felt, blood pressure could not be recorded, and therefore we felt that he was sinking fast. At this the patient was removed from the general ward to a room. An injection of Coramine was given to him and we slipped some Vibhuti into his mouth, out of the packets Baba had given us for him.
Next morning at 8 a.m. we found that his pulse was normal. The patient told us that at night he had been helped by someone! Who could it be? The nurse and attendant did not know anything about it, nor had they helped the patient. What an inexplicable incident at the hospital! We wondered... Needless to add, the patient recovered soon and went home hale and happy." Sr. A. Ranga Rao while driving from Madras to Prasanthi Nilayam, noticed sparks of fire emanating from his petrol. He cried; "Sai Ram" and threw handfuls of dust. The flames subsided, and he drove merrily to the Nilayam. Col. Raja told me that a huge bamboo cluster near his bungalow at Tezpur, NEFA, had caught fire. The flames were ascending yards high. His wife ran out in fear that some huts nearby, where Nepalese lived, might be burnt down. She shouted, "Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba," and to quote the Colonel, " The fire got extinguished in five seconds; even a dozen fire engines would not have succeeded in doing so." Another revelation of the foundation head of Divinity which is ever-present, everywhere.
"My brother had fractured his thigh bone six months ago. When Baba was due to visit my house at Trichinopoly, I brought my brother and made him sit on a chair in the rear hall. When Baba came, the Bhajan was on in the main hall. But, He quietly went towards my brother knowing that he was still ailing. Baba materialised Vibhuti and asked him to swallow it, applying a fraction of it on his forehead. Then He walked into the hall and came near me and said, "I have set right your brother's leg." Within 3 days my brother began moving about in the house and in a week he ventured into the garden without help, and before the month was over he resumed his daily constitutional walk." This letter is from Sri S. N. K. Sundaram, Founder and Director of the Pandyan Bank.
Dr. M.S. Ramakrishna Rao, a talented Ophthalmic surgeon writes about the miraculous effect of Vibhuti, concretised by Baba's love. This doctor was treating a friend for Conjunctivitis in the routine way. He found in the course of his treatment that his patient had the much dreaded dendritic ulcer in his right eye, which is caused by a virus. IDU manufactured in America was the only drug which can cure this virus. But unfortunately it was not available in India. In a few days the other eye also got infected, which was rather unusual. "Efforts were being made to get the IDU, but in its absence all that I could do was to pray to Sathya Sai Baba, and doing so I put His Vibhuti into both eyes of the patient and bandaged them. That very night, my Professor Dr. R. Suryaprasada Rao was able to procure the precious drug. I felt happy that Baba had responded to my prayers. Next day when the patient came to me I opened the bandage, anxious to apply the IDU. But to my utter astonishment and joy I found that there was no ulcer in either eye! I examined the eyes under the corneal microscope, but no trace of the disease or even a scar was visible."
John Hislop, a highly educated business executive in America, who could normally be expected to dismiss abruptly any talk about a living Avatar, has developed an irretrievable faith in the Avatar. He says, "I am, as a young son in the household of a wise father and a loving mother, in whom I have unreserved trust. The almost incredible personal experiences of Swami's devotees draw the portrait of an unique and beautiful human being, with attributes extending beyond anything we have ever conceived as belonging to man."
In order to awaken man from sloth and slumber. Baba often employs some supernatural or suprahuman methods. Sri Bhagavandas from Unai writes. "I have seen scented ash appearing on a photo of Baba in my neighbour's home. We were thrilled by it, and are very eager to have Darsan of Baba." This is one of the innumerable ways in which Baba introduces Himself, and manifests His Presence, announcing the advent of His Divinity. In NEFA, a far off region, where the sanctity of Vibhuti is not generally understood, sweet thick nectar or honey, or at times butter, rice grains or precious stones emerge from the holy photos forming a decorative pattern, or Pranava symbol.
Such Grace is available even to those who have not seen, heard or met Baba. Shri J. Gogoi from Shillong writes, "When flowers are offered at the feet of the photo, Amrith appears! What a Sai Leela!" Shri P. Tshering from Calcutta writes, "While my wife was busy cleaning all Photographs of Baba for worship she suddenly saw Amrith coming out of the picture of Baba, all over the body." Dipendra Dass of Bhubaneswar writes, "Since the last few days, from the photo of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba some watermarks seem to be appearing. In order to be more confident, I wiped out all those watermarks. To my utmost surprise, two lines of streaming water came down from the knees of the Lord."
Dr. J. Vighnesam of Berhampur writes, "I have not informed any one that Vibhuti comes from the picture of Baba in my house, but, please tell me what I have to do? How am I to worship the picture hereafter? What are the rules of ceremonial purity to be observed? Food, drink, smoking etc.?" From Delhi, a telegram arrives, "Honey dropping from Thy Lotus Picture at residence. Pray continue Thy Grace to evoke devotion. H.P. Misra!" At Sonapur Tea Estate where a Sathsang or Friendly Rally of the Sai devotees was held, as soon as the party returned from Nagarasankeertan, when Arati was done, Vibhuti and Amrith appeared on the picture of Baba. "We were all thrilled when we realised that Baba was present amidst us," writes Dr. Barua. "This day, two devotees of Lord Venkateshwara joined us in the Bhajan. When Arati was performed, something fell from the picture of Baba. If was found to be Sripadarenu, given to devotees at Thirupathi, after the worship offered to Lord Venkateshwara there!" writes Sri Muralidharan, the Station Director of All India Radio, Kohima.
Any sign of Grace, corresponding to individual temperament or to the peculiar predicament, creating the desired impact, in awakening a seeker or arousing others towards Sadhana, is useful. "Not very long ago, I was almost dead," wrote Marie to her teacher Hilda Charlton at New York. "Dead, both internally and externally, for I was deeply involved with drugs, mostly heroin. When I managed to give this up, I developed hepatitis, and was sick with this disease for quite a while. Then Marc Schles sent me some of Baba's Holy Ash from India which helped to cure me. I was sunk in despair, without a home, and seemingly without a future. But, thanks to Sai Baba, I am really happy now, for I am living at home with my mother and making plans to return to college. Three of my dear friends who were involved with drugs have stopped them too. I shudder to think how close to death I was, through overdoses of drugs; I would like to express my gratitude to Baba."
Pedagottapalem Janakiramaiah had heard of Baba, but was not drawn to Him, as he thought of Him as merely another addition to those large bands of Sadhus with which this country abounds. His God was the idol installed in a temple 5 miles from his village. This was a Sivalinga that had been worshipped for centuries by his forefathers. Sivarathri was drawing nearer and the temple celebration was to be held on 15th February. But while he was busy with the preparations, diphtheria affected him. He had high fever and great pain. There were no facilities for hospitalisation; he could neither swallow food nor drink. Some kitchen remedies were tried, a few quacks tried their hand, but all was of no avail. On the night of the 13th, he remembered a plaster of Paris bust of Sathya Sai Baba that a relative had brought to the house. He had been told of His miraculous powers. Why not pray to Him? Keeping the little Bust by his bed, he gazed at it for long, and gradually fell asleep. In a dream, Baba asked him to drink some water, but Janakiramaiah protested that he could not.
Baba however insisted: his wife appeared with a jug full of water, which he drank down to the last drop. With the last gulp, he awoke; it was 11 p.m. The fever had gone and so had the diphtheria! By the 15th he was able to carry out all his chores at the temple! With a heart full of gratitude he wrote to me requesting directions for the journey to the Nilayam. "He is Siva; I must fall at His Feet," he wrote.
"It was my third bout of pneumothorax" says Eruch K. Wadia of Madras. "I was advised to consult the doctors of the Victoria Hospital, Bangalore, since I had exhausted all other lines of treatment. But before implementing that advice, I went to Prasanthi Nilayam for Baba's Darsan. I prayed to Him from a distance, and then had to come away, to consult the doctors. After the consultation was over the doctor said, "Whoever told you, you had pneumothorax?" I was sent for a further check-up to the SDS Sanatorium, there I was told, "Your right lung, the affected one, as you say, is better and stronger than the left. Nothing need be done." Says Wadia, "His Blessings cured me completely; Darsan is enough."
Holtender Nicholas had a different type of experience. "Even before I ever saw Baba personally, I had a deep affection for Him; I was working on His portraits; by the time they were completed, I knew I simply had to go to India and see Him. I came to India, reached Puttaparthi three days before the Dasara Festival. The Festival itself was full of experience, but I will not dilate on them. Right after the festival I had a cold which grew steadily worse, together with such a high fever that I could not even think straight! The doctor from the hospital, while giving me medicine, exclaimed, "Sai Ram! Only You can make him healthy!" I heard these words and prayed, "Baba, give me the chance to do my duty in Europe, I should not die here, for I can now see clearly that there is work to do." "Suddenly, I saw Baba's eyes - and then the hair around His head; these kept coming and going, something akin to the lights I often see in meditation. At the same time I heard the AUM vibrating all around me. In the morning I was much better, and one of the Westerners, a stranger, came into my room and said, "Baba was talking of you. He asked me, "Do you know Nick? (Nick! So He knew my name) the old man who sways during the Bhajans? Tell him that he had a serious heart-attack last night, but he is now quite safe, for I was with him all night!" My eyes were opened. I understood the vision. All doubts were resolved. Now I know that Baba will come to us, if we really need Him."
Baba makes His presence felt in a thousand different ways to those in distress. When Dr. Ramakrishnan of the Institute of Science, Bangalore, was at Prasanthi Nilayam, he was summoned by a phone call from Hyderabad at 9-30 p.m. and told that his mother had been removed to hospital in a precarious condition due to cerebral thrombosis.
He managed to communicate this to Baba, even though He had retired for the night. Baba sent the messenger back, "I was at the hospital; she is all right now; let him have a good night's rest."
Meanwhile at Hyderabad, about 9 p.m. his father saw her open her eyes and exhibit an interest in her surrounding; so he anxiously enquired if it was necessary to summon her two sons to her bedside. But the lady replied, "There is no need; Baba was here just now; and while giving Prasad, He assured me that I would be quite well." She returned home, quite well, within the next few days!
Baba may indicate His Grace, His Love, in some other manner. Sri K. Dutt Gupta writes. "At Rangia, 30 miles from here, Principal Biren Bardoloi has two small photographs of Baba under the glass of his dressing table. Baba has caused to appear on one of them, in his own handwriting, the words "Blessing - Sri Sathya Sai Baba." Sometimes, outlined in Vibhuti He leaves a footprint or two - an indication that He had come, or is present.
The mystic, Meister Eckhart writes, "The Lord told the people, I stand at the door and knock and wait. If any man lets me in, I will sup with him." You need not look either here or there. He is always near, make Him dear to see Him vividly in your pure heart. He is the Reality of your being; you exist, so long as He inheres in you. Baba is ever ready to respond to your sincere prayers.
Baba asked the Sitaramans from London why they had retired for the night leaving the gas flame alight with a container of oil upon the stove. "What would have happened if I had not turned the gas off?" He asked. R.G. Gholap writing from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, "At about 4-15 a.m. I heard a voice asking me to wake up. I heard it thrice, but, I said to myself, what will I do getting up so early? A moment later I heard, "At least open your eyes and see!" Most unwillingly I opened them, and what did I see? - A thief! As soon as I raised alarm, he ran away! Who had aroused me, I wondered. Then I saw a trail of Vibhuti from my room to the outside veranda. I knew it was Baba."
From Coorg, C. M. Appiah writes, "The electric current had failed; so it was a dark fortnight in August. Kumar finished his frugal supper and went to bed; he was living in a dilapidated building. Lighting a candle and a stick of Agarbathi (incense) he placed them near Baba's picture while singing some Bhajan songs. Then, he slept. The wind howled and the rain fell in torrents. Suddenly there was a whisper in his ear, 'Kumar run!' Opening the door he ran out in the dark. As soon as he reached the road, he heard a loud thud. The house had collapsed! In the morning he found the only undamaged item amid the ruins was the picture of Baba framed in glass!"
One day Sethumadhavan Nair received a letter written in blood, with the skull and crossbones which the Naxalities parade on their note paper. The letter said, "Stop the Bhajans, for you are only cheating and bluffing people. If you do not stop within seven days of the receipt of this warning your head will be chopped off." The devotee knew of only one armour against such threats - the name of Baba! Without any fear, he continued the Bhajans during the next seven days and nights. Enraged by this, the letter writer was now determined to carry through his dastardly plot and so at dawn on the eighth day, he stealthily approached the house and peeped through an open window. Nair was quietly washing his hands at the bathroom tap. Filled with hate and violence the writer aimed, swung, and threw a heavy chopper at the unsuspecting victim! But Baba is ever-present, everywhere. All Nair could say later was that a sudden whirlwind of orange-red flashed before him, while a gentle hand held and pushed him into a corner of the room. He heard the weapon clatter to the floor and the sound of fast running footsteps, as the Naxalite made good his escape.
Hearing the noise, Nair's wife and a family friend who had been repeating OM rushed into the room to find it filled with a strange fragrance, and Nair covered with Vibhuti. He was unable to speak immediately, but they knew it was the Naxalite chopper and the omnipresent Saviour.
On another occasion Group Captain Bose, driving with his wife and father-in-law from Ambala to Gauhati in a high powered car with low clearance was unable to move on the slushy road near Hariharganj. The entire area was dangerously flooded by serpentine heavy rains; the road was a lake. The back wheels of the car sank completely into the mud, while up front, one wheel was stuck in a ditch! At that late hour of 11-30 p.m. no help was available, nor would it have been of much avail since all efforts to free her only succeeded in making her sink deeper.
The occupants were able to procure shelter in a nearby school, and slept on bare benches at night. Mrs. Bose felt that Baba had spared them a long and hazardous journey, driving through the night, but her husband was determined to reach Gauhati where he had to preside over a Court Martial. "Duty is God. Work is Worship," he quoted Baba.
When dawn broke, no passing car or truck would agree to help, nor would the small crowd of amused villagers lift a finger! Their enjoyment of the pitiable spectacle only fanned the flames of despair. Unfortunately Mr. Bose had a little bit of ego left in him; he decided to rely on horse power rather than Sai Power! Ropes were procured, but the car would not move; the engine was restarted, but she only sank further into the slush. Eventually, an exhausted Bose flopped to the ground, saying, "The Lotus Feet of Baba is our only refuge." Almost immediately a gentle looking man with a strong physique came towards them. No one seemed to recognise him, nor could they guess his whereabouts. Handing his umbrella to Mrs. Bose, he became master of the situation. Bose was asked to get into the car and take the wheel - a sweet fragrance flooded the interior, but before the engine could be switched on, or the gaping crowd could offer assistance. Mrs. Bose saw the man 'put his right hand under the bumper, and with one lift, he placed the car forward upon hard ground, all wheels safe out of the awful mire.' Then all the occupants were requested to get into the car! Puzzled, they tried to thank him and to ask who, and what he was, "Oh, I am a Chowkidar (watchman)," he said, and walked away. Disengaging itself from the now vociferous crowd, the car moved away, and soon caught up with the man, walking briskly down the road. Bose begged the man to accept something but he refused. Then He spoke one sentence, "Why did you not call for me last night itself?" The Lotus Feet had indeed come to them!
This incident illustrates clearly how necessary it is to devalue the 'ego' the little personal 'i', and to recognise that the God of our prayers, our aspirations, and highest hopes is embodied in this 'Tiny' human frame of Baba. What after all constitutes a true 'man'? only he who looks up to God and submits completely, giving up all he has including the little personal ego, who is perfectly detached, who knows the mystery of God as Man, and Man as God! On two occasions, forest fires raged around the farm of Indra Devi at Tecate, on the Mexican Border. In the first instance they roared around the Sai Nilayam where Sadhakas have a retreat, consuming trucks and tents, coating the walls with soot, but the inmates ran up a hill; the shrine room itself was left sweet and fresh as ever. On the second occasion Indra Devi was at home and ran into the prayer room, trusting Baba. The flames rolled back! When next she was in India, Baba gave her as an expression of His Compassion, a figurine, saying 'No more fires!'
Muralidharan, Station Director of All India Radio, was with Baba during his tour of Kerala and tape recorded His speeches and Bhajans, without omitting a syllable or a note. From these tapes a newsreel programme was prepared depicting the ceremony when Baba laid the foundation stone for the Hospital for children, in my native village of Trippunittura, when the Health Minister, Wellington, presided.
He played that reel and felt happy, remembering that Baba, in his speech at the Town Hall, Ernakulam, had promised to tour Kerala again after Sivarathri. He had assured them that He would tour from Cannanore to Trivandrum and stay longer in each place. When a friend came to his office a week later, Muralidharan chanced to communicate to him the good news. Muralidharan said that if Baba would not fulfil his assurance, he would take the tape containing His promise to Puttaparthi, play it back to Baba, and 'challenge' Him.
The friend was thrilled by the confident tone of Muralidharan; he wanted to hear the assurance in Baba's own voice, and so the tape was replayed for his benefit. Wonder of wonders: those sentences were not recorded on that tape! The Telugu sentences spoken by Baba and the simultaneous Malayalam translations of the assurance spoken by me were not there! And to make the miracle complete, there was no gap either!
It was Basant Panchami, but the people concerned did not know this was so. They motored to Lakshimpur to catch a plane to Gauhati, then on to Calcutta, Madras and Bangalore - and finally by car to Baba's Feet! Their hearts were burdened by a sorrow which only He could lighten. While at the airport they received a phone message from home. It was a Minister of the Government of Nagaland that was speaking. "What have you done to the picture of Baba in our room?" "Why, nothing at all! What has happened?" "You have pasted some red thread and a tassel on to the place where His left wrist is." "What? I never did anything of the sort! Leave it as it is" "It has grown on the glass and it must have some meaning - He won't do anything without some significance, anyhow I shall..." "The thread is on the picture, not on the glass - underneath the glass - do you understand?" "Ah! I shall keep that in mind." It was his wife, who said it.
"My hands and feet are everywhere." He says in the Geeta, when He has decided to confer joy, then nothing can stop Him.
Beethoven has written in his own hand on a piece of paper preserved in the Royal College of Music, London, some seminal ideas of his; it includes the following about God. When we think about Baba, these lines strike us as singularly appropriate: "From what we are able to perceive in His works, we conclude that He is eternal, Almighty, Omniscient, and Omnipresent."
Baba wrote in a letter to a member of the Governing Body of a College, "Sai Sankalpa is Vajrasankalpa." (The Will of Sai is irresistible like the thunderbolt. It can never miss aim). It is irrevocable, inexpungeable, infallible. "There is nothing I desire for myself; I strive, I desire, I work, only for ensuring and developing the welfare of humanity."
Sri Laksh Kumar has had a brilliant academic career, having taken his Master's Degree in three subjects! He is at present the Divisional Inspector of Schools, in the North East Frontier Agency, now named Arunachal Pradesh. One day the mail brought him three books concerning Baba; "The Life of Baba," "A Lecture given by Him to the Students," and "A Collection of His Sayings." He had heard about Baba, and read an article published in the Illustrated Weekly of India, Bombay, but was not impressed by the portrait which appeared alongside. He felt the article was not worth reading. Nevertheless he kept the books among the Sanskrit volumes on his shelf.
While at college Laksh Kumar developed the habit of rising at midnight to read a favourite book until about 3 or 4 a.m., before turning in for another bout of sleep. But why of all books was he now trying to master the ancient Sanskrit grammar, the Ashtadhyayi (Eight Chapters) of Panini? "Panini is," he said, "an absorbing and fascinating writer." Feeling his works to be the most celebrated on linguistics, he would sit far into the night, in the quiet of his NEFA bungalow absorbed in this scholastic work. One night, struck by an un-negotiable corner in the grammatical maze he closed his eyes in order to concentrate. When he opened them, Baba was sitting in the chair next to him, in a red flowing garment with an enchanting smile!
"I did not feel fear or surprise, as must happen under such circumstances when a stranger suddenly appears at dead of night while you are poring silently over a book! I felt at ease and very much assured. Before I could ask Him who He was, I heard His sweet low voice speaking reassuringly, "Do not be afraid that I am with you." He repeated the statement twice, but the question still remained. "Who was He?" Before I could speak, He said, "I sent you some books."
"Now I knew it was Baba." I replied, "Yes. I have received some books - " and would have continued but He cut me short and said, "Read them!" I said "There is nothing in them; they are trash. There is nothing in them for me." But Baba persisted, and He spoke with sweet persuasiveness, as a friend, with no trace of bitterness, "Still, there will be something worthwhile! At least read them once!" He smiled a smile that I can never forger."
Look at the depth of Baba's love sending books, pursuing the process of transformation of the recipient by going Himself, and despite his callous cynicism urging him not lose the chance of saving himself.
In a recorded interview with Dr. M.V.N. Murthy, Ph.D., Kumar continues, "Then I felt it was wrong on my part to damn them as trash, before the very person who had sent them, without a proper reading. I said, "I shall read them," and getting up, went into the inner room to fetch them. When I returned, He was gone. I always try to keep my promises, so though this promise was made to a strange visitor who came to me in strange circumstances, I felt it my duty to read the books, I was, till then, interested only in philosophy, Eastern and Western, and not in ritual or in the lives of religious leaders as such; but I found those books explaining all the great truths of the Upanishads and other philosophical tenets of East and West in a very simple, sublime manner. Whereas I found in other philosophical books mere words, Baba's books and utterances touched me because they sprang from an eternal experience of the soul and encouraged me to reach those heights myself.
"Ten days later when I was up against another passage in Panini, at about the same hour of night, and had closed my eyes to concentrate, Baba came again! He sat in the same chair quite close to me. "I know you have read those books," He declared. I said, echoing Him: "Yes, I have read the books." "I am quite sure you have liked them, I knew you would like them." He said in a voice of assurance. "If you read them, you will surely like them." He repeated.
"His voice was full of love and benediction. I must confess that I have never heard such a sweet voice. Then Baba said, "Now why do you not translate them?" I said, "That would be very difficult." Baba repeated the statement, "Yes, it will be difficult, but I am sure you will do it." So, I rose and went into the inner room to fetch the books and some paper. Again, He had left by the time I returned. Translate, I did not ask Him, into which language - Hindi or Adi? I was sure He must have meant Adi, the language of the tribal area. So I started to work, without intermission.
"Two weeks later while struggling for a proper word in Adi for an abstract idea found in the book, Adi being not a language to suit the exposition of abstract ideas - and while absorbed in weighing one term against a few others, Baba came again. This was around midnight. It was the same blissful voice which I loved to hear. He spoke to me from the chair beside mine. "You have started translating them?"
"I raised my head and saw Him in His full glory I replied, "I cannot do it; I am not satisfied; it is very difficult." But Baba said, "You can do it very well. Why should you shirk? Anything that is worth doing will of course be difficult. You can do it, you have done it." Then - He disappeared.
I was much encouraged by this; I finished the translation, and I decided that I should read it to some Adi speaking friends and villagers, in order to find out whether it was worthwhile. Meanwhile I found that Baba's three visits and His Darsana and Sambhashana had transformed me. My attitude towards my work and my subordinates changed. Formerly I used to get angry and punished people. Now I appreciate the difficulties of other people and try to help and sympathise with them. I have become meek; the 'i' in me does not assert as much as it used to do. So I can now declare that while I translate the books of Baba, Baba succeeded in bringing out the best in me."
Grammar is as much Baba's province as any other discipline. You can reach God, the perfect Grammarian through Grammar. As Laksh Kumar pointed out, his study of Panini's works and the translations were both blessed by Baba who became his Guru. Kumar was gently guided through all the eight stages that make up the study of Panini by Baba whenever he called upon Him; all the complicated passages were expounded. "I can explain any Sutra from any section of the book in all the eight forms, and so can my three children ranging in age from thirteen to seven!" Says Laksh Kumar, now!
Baba is love and it is His Love that prompts Him to select instruments, so that they may feel a sense of participation in the fulfilments of His Mission.
Mr. Tidemann from Norway was told, "You need not look for a Guru any more; from now on I will guide you." A disciple of Indra Devi spoke to Baba about the "waves of ecstasy" he experienced during meditation at Prasanthi Nilayam. Baba told him they were "sample experiences" granted by Him, to make him proceed with confidence. Baba imparts courage, confidence, counsel and consolation to all who yearn.
"Be careful what you ask of Me for I grant what you seek!" Why stand under the heavenly Kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling tree) and ask for the gift of a paltry petty article? He knows what is good for us. Therefore, He of His own accord gives whatever we need or desire. So it is best for us not to try to interfere with His plan of our destiny.
Mr. Bhatia had three daughters; Baba said, "You will have a son soon," and so it came to pass, although the pregnancy dragged on well beyond the normal range of nine months leading to considerable anxiety on the part of the doctors and the anxious father. Baba had declared that the child would be born on the day He arrived in Bombay - leaving everyone more confused than ever! But during the 13th month, a son was born, and Bhatia hurried to the home of the Hon'ble P.K. Sawant, where he was told that he had gone to receive Baba at the Limits of Greater Bombay!
His will always prevails. Recently a sapphire ring was given to Arnold Schulman, the author of the book "Sai Baba". He was reluctant to accept it as he thought that such a valuable ring might cause trouble with the Customs at San Francisco; Baba said, "I shall look to it," The official proclaimed it as "worthless" upon examination. Yet appraisers later valued it at 125 dollars!
Containers of Vibhuti given with the assurance that they will refill as quickly as they are emptied, refill themselves with alacrity! A Divine Leela - usually called a miracle is supposed to point out that all that we see is nothing else but an object-portion of Consciousness (Atma). It is not an exhibition but is always fraught with a profound significance calculated to bear witness to the advent of the Divinity in the human frame of Baba. It arouses awe and reverence, deepens loyalty, serves as an eye-opener, removing the fog of pride. The so-called sophisticated civilisation has polluted the mind of man completely, helped him to cultivate a lust for power and possessions, deluding him in the belief that happiness lies in their attainment, and thereby leading him to moral and physical degradation.
He has come to disinfect and correct, instilling faith and fearlessness among the wise and the discriminating, so that He may have sappers and miners for His campaign against evil. As Murphet writes, "They build our faith, and help us to work with new zeal towards the production of a divine edition of themselves. And this is accomplished, not only through the great inspiration of the living examples before us, but also through the silent transforming ray that emanates from the Divine One."
One Leela, for example, has all the value for the person privileged to witness, like the Viswarupadarsana (witnessing Krishna as All) vouchsafed by Lord Krishna in the battlefield to Arjuna. One day at Prasanthi Nilayam, while walking with Dr. Y.J. Rao, M.Sc., Ph.D., a Professor of Geology, Baba picked up a piece of broken granite, the size of a fist, and turning to the doctor asked him what it contained. Happy that he could reel off his pet technical jargon, he gave the right petrological answers. But, Baba persisted and wanted that he should go deeper into its composition. He was prepared for that question too, and he spoke of atoms, chemical formulae, electrons, protons, mesons and the rest of the scientific abracadabra. Baba stopped him. He said, "No, deeper still!" Rao was at the end of the technical tether! So Baba took the rock from the hands of the geologist and blew on it. It became a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna playing the flute. The colour was slightly bluish; the structure had undergone slight modifications, to suit the curves of stance. "See! God is in the rock! You geologists have to be conscious of that; nothing exists without God, apart from God."
Every Leela of Baba is a lesson in spiritual discipline and science. He chides and the chiding strikes a hidden spring of awareness and adoration.
There was a person who worshipped Baba at home reciting the 108 Names, and on Thursdays the 1008 Names, at the end of the rite, he fell flat on the ground in front of the picture, imagining that he was clasping with both hands the Lotus Feet of Baba standing before him. There was a gap between his palms, where he imagined the Feet to be! Tears would well up in his eyes while he enjoyed the thrill of that fancy. Later when he came to Prasanthi Nilayam, Baba granted him a private interview. "Just look at My Feet as I stand before you! Take note of the width of space I require to place both feet comfortably on the ground. Your palms do not open wide enough; so I have to keep my feet cramped between them every time you want me. Keep them a bit wider!"
There is no prayer that He does not hear, no sign that is not recorded in His heart, no tear that He dismisses as unworthy of attention. He is the nearest kinsman, the closest friend, the wisest guide, the fondest mother, the very breath of our being.
He is present in this very moment on all the roads, behind every fast moving vehicle, or often with it, ready with His warning and loving Hand to avert calamity. "Driving from Colchester to London on the afternoon of the 22nd September, my son asked me to lower his seat as he wished to recline. This I did, and a truck stopped still in front of the car almost suddenly, and we ran into it. The steering wheel was completely bent, and the car extensively damaged in the front! Neither my son nor I received a scratch. Baba had asked him to recline! We had the sacred Vibhuti with us, and were reciting the Lord's name. We bow down to our beloved Lord who intervened," writes Shri V. Krishnamurthi.
Professor G.B. Pillai gives an account of some interest of his journey from Trivandrum to Madras, with his son. The family had known about Baba since 1961, and had become ardent devotees. While proceeding towards Madurai on 23rd December, 1969, a tremendous downpour of rain mercilessly lashed the train. Alarming reports of the Pamban Bridge having been washed away reached up, so the train was halted at Madurai for three hours, but eventually it was decided that it should proceed. By then it was 9-30 p.m. and the Pillais, together with Dr. C.K. Gopi who was in the same compartment, decided to retire for the night.
Suddenly the lights went out, and there was a loud explosion. The coach itself started to tumble into an abyss, while the debris of the compartment fell upon the unfortunate occupants. Professor Pillai was dropped into the roaring river waters below, pinned down by the debris - he felt himself gradually suffocating. "Where was my son? I thought of my wife and daughters, and cried out, 'Baba, Baba, save me - save my child!"
So it happened. Suddenly the waters seemed to recede, and the debris were washed away. "I could feel the ground under my feet. My head was reeling, my voice was hoarse, my clothes were washed away. I called out to my son, and he answered!"
"Baba had watched over us!" Dr. Gopi, who was also saved rendered medical aid, for sand and mud had almost choked the Professor. Later he had to fight for his life against an attack of pneumonia, but Baba's Grace helped him to recover completely.
Most letters to the author start saying; "Another miracle has happened!" "Susan, who was miraculously saved by Baba from suicide, had a son, Kevin, who survived brain surgery as a child, but was left totally blind in one eye. Each night Susan used to place a little Vibhuti in his eye. Finally when the child's eye was examined it was found that sight had returned to it - "even if he were to lose the sight in his good eye, he could see objects and get around with the vision in his blind eye." This is from a letter from Santa Barbara, on the Pacific Coast of America.
Nearly twenty years ago, arriving one morning at the Nilayam I found a group of young men from a Bangalore college praying to Baba to take them to the top of the hill on the left bank of the Chitravathi river. They hoped that once there, Baba would take from the famous tamarind tree, fruits of different species. I too joined in the appeal, but Baba was determinedly silent for a while, then said sharply, "Do I require that particular tree? Any tree can do." We were filled with hope. He would give us fruit from another tree and make that immortal! But He said, "Why do you think I want a tree? Sand is good enough." That meant He would give us something from the river bed! We were soon disillusioned! "Do I need the sands of a riverbed? Is not any sand equally good?"
Since the building work was in progress at the Nilayam, truck loads of sand had been heaped to one side. "We shall sit on this heap itself, Swami!" I said. "Do you think that the creation of something out of sand is the only miracle? Is sand so essential?" We did not know what to say - we had to be satisfied by the miracle, creation of Vibhuti by the mere wave of a hand. "Should I create something so that you can see a miracle? Is not your existence itself a miracle of Mine?" He asked. Then He rose and walked away leaving us aghast at the revelation of His being the Trinity, of His being the Incarnation of the One Universal God.
Every miracle of Baba is a gift of Grace. It may be a pinch of sacred ash, a piece of candy, a picture created before us; it may be a shower of ash, or the emergence of Kumkum or fragrant sandal or nectarine honey, on a picture, an Om in ash on the floor, a continuous flow of scented oil or Amrith from a Linga or locket. It may also be a series of paper slips on which counsel or warnings are written in the language you understand, that come from His hands in the portraits you worship. It may be given to you while you are awake, asleep or dreaming - or come to you as a book or as a parcel through the post, in reply for an order that you may not have placed. It may be a vision of Himself, subtle, substantial, momentary or more lasting, but, always, it is a sign of His Love and Majesty.
The more you want, the more He gives; the more He gives, the more you grow; the nearer you approach Him, the closer do you approximate to Him.
"Come with empty hands," Baba says. Throw away all the things that you hold in the grasp of your hand; cast away the toys with which you have been playing the game of gaining and losing, gathering and scattering. Baba delights in giving. He does not relish being adored or admired because our praise does not add anything to His Glory, and criticism cannot minus it either. He delights in filling empty hands with lasting sweetness; empty hearts with lasting, joy; empty lives with salutary substance; empty reeds with His melodious breath.
Each gift prepares us afresh to receive yet another, for nothing is given without significance - it is to facilitate us to go forward in our search for Truth. He is not rendered less by giving; our capacity for receiving is boundless too. So Manava (Man) negates and needs, hungers and receives, and thus becomes ultimately Madhava, God, Himself.
While addressing an audience of Sai devotees, Dr. Bhagavantham recently said that about a decade back good photos of Bhagawan in colour were not available. Therefore his son prayed to Baba for a picture. His son's prayers were spontaneously answered as Bhagawan materialised a Lingam and gave it. This is a pointer revealing the inner core of the Reality or the Real.
Once a few devotees were sitting with Baba at the foot of a mountain and Baba held a few pebbles in His hand and threw them towards a devotee, converting these into sugar candy. At this the devotee enquired from Baba that if He could instantly convert those stones into sugar candy, could He not transform the entire mountain in front of them into sugar candy? Baba replied, "It can be done, but why unnecessarily interfere with its nature?"
In fact, no material or movement is necessary to materialise anything for Him. His Will (Sankalpa) is supreme. On one occasion, Baba was talking on spiritual matters to a devotee, and all of a sudden the devotee found on his lap a red apple. The devotee was astonished, and Baba told him, "Didn't you say, earlier on, that you did not have any breakfast? Eat it now, for you will be having your lunch only after a couple of hours." This was accomplished with out any transformation of any material or without any wave of the hand.
"Get detached from the transitory pleasure; boldly attach yourself with the One, peerless and perennial, remaining in a serene state of Blissful Awareness," says Baba.