Sathyam Shivam Sundaram, Vol 4
The Call and the Echo

The Promise
"I have My work to do; My devotees are calling me," Baba had declared when He was fourteen years of age.
With that, He had walked out of school and home into the garden where He exhorted the huge gathering to worship the feet that were to lead mankind from untruth to truth, from darkness to light and from death to immortality. At sixteen, He announced that His mission during the incarnation was to confer bliss on all beings everywhere.
Pointing to the bold, bald hills on the outskirts of Puttaparthi village (then a confused jumble of mud huts around a few brick houses, 'scarce five minutes from the Stone Age', as Schulmann described it), Swami, when He was seventeen, confided to the Pujari (priest) Lakshmiah:
"The Sai Pravesh (Advent of Sai) will convert that region into Prasanthi Pradesh (a region of perfect peace). Upon that hill there will rise a grand Bhavan (hall). (It was inaugurated seven years later). At that time, hundreds (why hundreds?), thousands (why thousands?), lakhs (why only lakhs?) - the whole of India will be there. The whole world will come and wait for Sai Darsan."
Pujari Lakshmiah could not believe his ears. He protested and said, "No, I cannot believe this. How can this happen?" Baba replied, "You will have to believe it when you stand where we are now, trying to catch a glimpse of Me standing on the porch of that grand Bhavan." Lakshmiah is alive to this day, trying to catch a glimpse standing on the same spot!
What is the nature of the 'strategy' that Swami employs to draw such huge gatherings? On 23rd November 1975, the 50th birthday of Bhagavan, devotees from forty-six nations of the world from New Zealand to Iceland, offered their sincere homage to Bhagavan. Why do so many people travel such long distances at such a great expense of time and money braving the inconvenience of foreign food and living habits?
Of course, He has no compulsion, no urge, nor even a need to frame a strategy. He just acts; it is we who label these acts as 'strategy'. He calls us to proceed from 'I' to 'We', a call which must attract because it is a call which echoes from the depths of one's own self. 'Bhooma eva sukham :' - 'In vastness alone, is happiness', proclaims the Upanishad. "Expansion is life; contraction is death," says Baba. He leads us to the vastness, the 'We', and how He does it is the strategy. 'Subrahmanyam ' (Su-brahman-yam) is the refrain of the heart-pounding valedictory Bhajan that He instructs us to sing. It preaches the Brahman path; Brahman That is the Divine; That is both immanent and transcendent; That is beyond the reach of words and the flight of imagination. The path involves the discipline of all-inclusive love and the acceptance of ever-expanding kinship until the entire cosmos is subsumed. Baba says,
"All beings exist, become aware and are delighted, because God willed so, God who is Sath-Chith-Ananda. So, no single being is exiled from His grace. God is omnipresent, and no being can shut Him out. "
"I have come, " says Baba, "in order to repair the ancient highway leading man to God... I have come in response to the prayers of sages, saints and seekers for the restoration of that road. "
Therefore streams of afflicted men and women, groups of sadhakas as well as curious seekers of truth, and even such individuals who have attained relatively higher stages of realization, proceed to wherever Baba is, certain of His assuring smile and alleviating conversation. In His presence (and even far away from it, whenever we recollect the blissful moments), we feel elevated - even the lowest and lowliest of us - for He reminds us that we are a part of Him, as Divine as Himself. In fact, we are Divyatmaswaroopas, embodiments of the Divine Atman, as He invariably addresses us.
The nth Degree
We know that we have secured in Him a 'pace-maker' for our hearts. Under His benign guidance, we rise to the nth degree of fullness. He says,
"I am God: you are also God. But while I am aware, you are still unaware. That is the only difference."
As Sankaracharya had done 1300 years ago. He is telling us to experience Soham (I am He) and Sivoham (I am God). Ignorant persons jeer when Baba holds up the mirror to reveal the Divinity that is latent in us. One such person remarked, "Baba is trying to escape criticism for His assuming Divinity, by taking us also into His 'Divine' fold and transforming us into willing accomplices of his impersonation!" But the belief that all beings are parts of the one Divinity is as old as the Vedanta, and as universal.
Bayazid, the Sufi saint, said, "I went from God to God, until they cried for me in me, O Thou I!" Hui Neng, the Buddhist mystic, said, "When not enlightened, Buddhas are no other than ordinary beings; when there is enlightenment, ordinary beings at once turn into Buddhas." Eckhart, the Christian mystic, declared, "The seed of God is in us, the seeds grow into God."
Thousands are drawn to His presence through His power, His wisdom and His love. Sai Baba means 'the Divine Mother and Father '. Baba has the unlimited love of the Mother and the unsurpassed power and unalloyed universal wisdom of the Father. How can man withstand the impact of such a unique incarnation?
All Who Need
Unlimited love! On the gateway tower (Gopura), on the inner gateway arch and on the altar inside the prayer hall, one can see the sacred symbol of one's own religion amidst the equally revered symbols of other faiths. No question is asked and no brow raised by anyone who belongs to the Sai family, when you declare yourself to be a Hindu or a Buddhist, a Parsi, a Christian, a Muslim or even an atheist. The only question asked and the only thing with which Baba is concerned is how earnest, how distressed, how compassionate, how self-controlled you are. He created a cross for the pilot of the twin-engined aircraft which took him from Entebbe to the wild life sanctuary at Serengetti in East Africa. In the Bandipur forest He put one dry stalk of grass across another and, blowing upon it, converted it into a wooden cross with a silver Christ for Dr. Hislop [see reference to "White Man's Burden"]. He gave Professor Bashiruddin a silver locket with Allah inscribed on it in Arabic. On Bakr Id day, He showed a group of Arab pilgrims at Prasanthi Nilayam, the huge gathering of fellow-muslims kneeling that very moment before the Kaba in Arabia. He spread His palm before their eyes and they could see the sacred scene on it. There are many Jews like Dr. Sandweiss, paying homage to Him thus: "I believe Baba to be an incarnation of God. It appears to me now that all those stories in Hindu, Christian and Hebrew literature are not symbolic: there really is a spiritual level of reality that can make itself manifest. "
Buddhist monks have built in Ceylon and Malaysia, Sai prayer halls and centres of service. He performs the Navajyoti rite, and through that ceremony initiates Parsi boys into spiritual exercises. The parents are grateful to Him for this act of grace. No one is a stranger, no one is kept aside or aloof just because he is too young or too old, recalcitrant or incorrigible. His is the sunshine that disinfects all faiths and cults. He has declared that He will hold and lead by the hand those who stray away from the straight road and miss the realm of peace, joy and love.
He does not outlaw atheists for, He says, even they do love something - animal or plant, person or sect, ideal or ism. That love, He says, is God. They too, would not like being called liars but, like others, delight in speaking the truth. This homage they pay to truth indicates that they revere God, who is truth. Erasmus, the 16th century Dutch philosopher, declared, "Wherever you encounter truth, look upon it as Christianity." The atheists appreciate beauty and are charmed by it. God is beauty and thence arises the attraction it exerts on them.
Baba does not try to mould men in the crucible of any cult. He does not prescribe any single spiritual exercise or peddle any patented panacea to cure the ills of men. "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavily-laden, and I will give you rest," is the message even now. They come with broken hearts, damaged illusions and unfulfilled ambitions. They bring their burden of real and imagined pain. After meeting Him, they pray, "We cannot ask Thee for aught, for Thou knowest our needs; in fact, Thou art our only need." And having spoken thus, they stay.
Whereas most gurus are interested only in the mantras and exercises that they prescribe for people's grievances and the fees or gifts that they are offered in return, Baba is interested only in us, whether we undertake Sadhana or Seva of any kind or not. Moreover, since the Divine Spark is enshrined within man in five caskets, (the physical, the vital, the mental, the intellectual and the felicitous), one encased within the other, Baba tends to them one by one, with affectionate care, to enable us to reflect on the splendor of that Spark [see also: Prasnottara Vahini, ch. 7].
Baba says, "I never ask you to earn Me; I want only that you need Me. " Under the tender care of this physician, psychiatrist, guide, teacher and friend, we become aware of untapped springs of courage, fortitude, aspiration and adventure within us. Baba also directs our thoughts and activities towards society - the society in which we were born, which reared us and equipped us with a vision to face the future and to fulfil our obligations. Schumacher has said, "Although there are constant temptations to forget it, we all know that our lives are made or marred by our relationships with other human beings. No amount of health, wealth, fame or power can compensate us for our loss if these relationships dissolve. Yet they all depend on our ability to understand others and their ability to understand us." Baba declares that there can be no fulfilment of our lives until we ourselves have concern for, confidence in and compassion towards others.
Baba's infinite love, wisdom and power produce an indelible impact on each of us, sometimes in a moment, when we stay in His presence to imbibe the message that He radiates. Paul Roberts writes in Vogue (Christmas number, 1976) on the few minutes he spent in His divine presence, thus: "Baba, the remote and powerful figure I had watched in awe for months, hugged me like a long-lost friend, and in a surpassingly loving way began to tell me my worst faults. Indeed, He told me things no one could possibly have known, answered every question I would have asked and gave advice which I still treasure... I felt and still feel inexplicably closer to Him than to anyone else in the world. "
R. K. Karanjia, editor of Blitz, who described himself as a sceptic, a critic and a Marxist, who had in the past openly questioned and criticised Sri Sathya Sai Baba, was able (like many other critics, sceptics and Marxists) to meet Him and gain a cordial interview. He writes, "The encounter was a fantastic, almost shattering one. He went on to amaze me with knowledge of the most intimate developments affecting my life and work. "
A Gap, a Gasp
Dr. Samuel Sandweiss, the psychiatrist from San Diego, California, narrates, "After my initial visit to Sai Baba, I began to experience an inner awakening, as if a once-familiar but closed-off centre was opening up and I was becoming acquainted with a part of myself that I had long ago forgotten. I identified the experience as one of devotion, and wondered whether such a centre lies dormant in all of us awaiting release through some personal spiritual experience. This awakening or unfolding was for me a source of great joy, and with it came a deepening feeling of my love for Baba and for people in general."
Baba has Himself revealed that this happens in His presence: "Each of you feel a gap within you, a thirst, an urge, a 'Divine' discontent, a call to which the response from within is weak and vacillating. This has persuaded you to travel long distances to Me, braving obstacles and discomfort for the sake of securing peace, strength and guidance."
Gandikota V. Subba Rao of the U.N.O. writes, "Meeting Him is an intensely personal, emotional and uplifting experience. The temptation to glorify Him, to wax lyrical over the spiritual greatness and magnificence of Sri Sathya Sai Baba is difficult to resist."
Sribhashyam Appalacharya from Kakinada town, a repository of ancient scriptural wisdom, writes after staying for a few days at Prasanthi Nilayam, "Bhagavan is a Veda - what He says, happens; Bhagavan is a Sastra - what He does, is exemplary. He elaborates the truth with many a metaphor, simile and story as a Purana does; His words are the highest poetry, for they confer bliss and liquidate the littleness in man."
Dr. F.J. Gould of the University of Chicago reveals, "He perceives the individual's needs with unbelievable insight. He perceives, defends, breaks them down in some swift way. He studies behavior and its determinants... He somehow transfers the individual from one context to another... Many devotees of Baba have perceived His influence through changes in their own lives. New things become important; new values become prominent. To speak in a more technical language, the individual's utility structure changes. "
The Conjurer Confesses
Dr. E.B. Fanibunda from Bombay is a dentist and also an amateur magician, well-versed in the theory and practice of conjuring. In 1954 he published a book on a series of original and effective methods which practitioners of magic, mind-reading etc., could adopt. In appreciation of his proficiency he was given the 'Linking Ring' award by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, USA. This is his account of how he reacted to Baba:
"There were about a dozen people waiting in the sitting room of Mr. Munshi's house. Baba was due to come out of the inner apartments in a little while. The author (he writes in the third person) stood unobtrusively in one corner of the room. Baba entered the room and everybody stood up. Everyone was elbowing and pushing the other to get close to Him. Baba, however, came and stood near the author, so near that the author was almost touching His left side. By this time the author's practised eye had already given Baba's gown the 'once over'. Nothing was detected. Someone from the crowd asked for Vibhuti Prasad. This was the moment the author was waiting for. Baba pulled up His right sleeve, almost up to the elbow and, in the process, turned His right hand over. The author could see there was nothing in the palm. Quickly the hand went round in circles a few times and the Vibhuti appeared between His fingers which were partly closed to hold it. The Vibhuti was given to some people. The author wished that Baba would now materialise some more so that he could also get a little bit for examination. Lo, behold! Baba's hand went round and round a second time and some more Vibhuti appeared from nowhere. This time the author held out his hand and received His 'visiting card'. The author immediately knew from his past experience that the Vibhuti was materialised without any sleight of hand or trickery. He did not now require any further demonstrations from Baba to convince him that He did possess suprahuman powers for which the author had no explanation to offer and still has none." (1976)
In the Yoga Journal from Holland, Sharon Warren writes,
"The following morning, when I went to attend Bhajans, I happened to have an aisle seat. Baba strolled to the women's side that day and, as He passed, He stopped beside me. He then gestured with His hand with that special majesty which always means a divine materialisation, and then there was the sacred ash pouring from His fingertips and into my palms. He said, 'Vibhuti... eat'. It was like a dream. My heart was so full of love and devotion and gratitude that it just overflowed. I felt I could not hold any more. I was aware that He knew my need, and that was so comforting. I have been blessed to experience love throughout my life from many different relationships, but nothing could compare with the purity of the love I experienced when this transpired. It transcended any human relationship I had ever known. "
I and Thou
The fascination that draws the object to the subject is, if we may so name it, a move in His strategy. Vivekananda said,
"God is both, the subject and the object. He is the 'I' and the 'Thou' (the Thwam and the Thath). How, then, are we to know the Knower? The Knower cannot know Himself. The Atman, the Knower, the Lord of all that exists, is the cause of all the vision that is the universe, but it is not possible for Him to see Himself, know Himself, except through a reflection. You cannot see your own face except in a mirror. Similarly, the Atman cannot see Its own nature until It is reflected... The perfect man, the avatar, is the highest reflection of that Being, Who is both, subject and object. You now find why avatars are instinctively worshipped as God in every country. They are the most perfect manifestations of the Eternal Self. That is why men worship incarnations such as Christ and Buddha."
We are Sathyam, Sivam and Sundaram. The deep calls on the deep; the blue responds to the blue. We see ourselves reflected best in Baba who is in fact, the most sublime manifestation of Sathyam-Sivam-Sundaram. When we forget ourselves and start wandering into the wilderness of falsehood and vice, He comes, so that we may recognise our glory in Him.
Ed Fleure writes, "Baba's life is dedicated to the task of uplifting humanity, to awaken us to our spiritual heritage and to give us courage and faith. Our stay with Baba was a supreme bringing-up. Love is His greatest miracle. From morning to night Baba is constantly giving to and serving others. It was Maharajji who had kept enquiring, when we were leaving his ashram to go to Baba. When at last Baba gave us leave to return, He blessed us, 'Be friends with God.' Surely, this was a new style of blessing. Friends with God? How can that be? "When we came back to Maharajji, He gave me a Hindu name. And lo! It was the name of a friend, companion and class fellow of Sri Krishna - Sudama. So I had to practise the constant presence of God as my friend. "
This remark of Baba and its actual confirmation by a saint in the Himalayas proves that Baba has no wish to by-pass the form you might have accepted and adored. He could have renamed Ed Himself, but He encouraged him to return to Maharajji, the guru he had 'found'. But, since He knew that 'behaving as a friend' was the way for him, He saw to it that the name selected for him by Maharajji was Sudama. Of the nine paths mentioned by the sacred texts on Bhakti, the path of Sakhya (friendship) is next only to the last and highest path of Atma-Nivedanam (self-surrender).
Methodology Revealed
Once, when Baba was asked about His 'methodology', He said,
"I have no methodology or machinery or strategy in the accepted organizational sense. My methodology is a simple one, based on conversion by love, and the machinery is one of human cooperation and brotherhood. Love is My instrument and My merchandise."
He says that He can best be described as Prema Swaroopa (Embodiment of Love). What are called 'miracles' are fundamentally manifestation of that love. It is love that prompts Him to speak to each seeker in a language that he can understand - Swahili in East Africa and Adi to tribals from Along. It is love that persuades Him to heal the physical and mental wounds of man. It is love that illumines the darkness of our hearts and corrects the crookedness of our habits and attitudes. The miraculous cure by Baba of terminal diseases, and the saving of life in countless instances of accidents and disasters, are all expressions of His love.
He materialises holy ash in order to arouse faith and gives gifts of rings or lockets to protect the wearer. This He does out of overpowering compassion and love. J. Jagathesan, the Malaysian devotee who is also the author of the book, 'Journey to God ', writes,
"The greatest miracle of all is His transformation of the hearts of countless men and women to make them tread the path of godliness and goodness. Agnostics now sing in praise of God, drunkards have turned from searching for the spirit in the bottle to the Divine Spirit in man, drug addicts who found transient escape and bliss in this 'modern' scourge of mankind now seek the permanent bliss and peace that only God can give, and millions of ordinary men and women who used to listlessly pray as a matter of ritual or habit now find a new meaning, a new dimension to their prayers - whomsoever they may pray to or to whichever religion they may belong - for they are now convinced that God does exist, and that His grace can be obtained through Bhakti, through Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema and, most of all, through selfless and loving Seva to others, regardless of race, religion, caste or colour, and without any thought of reward. "
The love that He plants in all those who need Him (and who does not?) reaps a huge harvest of humility, reverence, generosity, fraternity and freedom.
Cousin Losing His Mind
Sandweiss speaks of a cousin of his, Jerry by name, who was a professor of mathematics in the eastern States. "Looking at the question from a purely mathematical standpoint, Jerry felt, it was indeed probable that an avatar might presently exist, so he joined a group that was going over to see Baba... My cousin, during the first interview, asked Baba to produce something for him. He had bought a cheap ring in Greece and was wearing it on his little finger. He wanted Baba to transform this ring into something else. Baba declined. Jerry felt let down... He began to examine his own sanity... Baba called Jerry for an interview again the next day. When he came out, Jerry was in an unusually bright and receptive mood, his face radiant. Jerry, it seems, pleaded again with Baba to do something with the ring and took it from his finger. Baba said that this was not His wish. Jerry continued to plead. Finally, Baba took the ring in His hand, blew on it, and returned to Jerry an altogether different ring which, needless to say, fitted his finger perfectly. This had obviously shaken him... The transformation that the few minutes with Baba produced in Jerry was indeed a greater miracle. A woman in the group asked for someone to help carry her bags and Jerry spontaneously volunteered. 'I never do this,' he said, 'I must be losing my mind!' "
The conquest of the mind is the consequence of years of yogic sadhana. Baba says,
"You are imprisoned in your ego. Though you should try to liberate yourselves from this bondage quickly and safely, most of you do not seek from Me the key to this liberation. You ask Me for trash and tinsel, petty little cures and gains. Very few desire to get from Me the thing I have come to give - liberation itself. Even among the few who seek liberation, only a minute percentage sincerely stick to the path of Sadhana and, from among them, only an infinitesimal number succeed. "
Jerry had taken, after his exposure to Baba, the first step in liberation from the prison of his ego.
Dr. Dhairyam, writes, "In the present world crisis of character, Bhagavan's grace will certainly act as a powerful catalyst. It will bring about a transformation among the people of the earth who are presently so diverse in spiritual development. Among those who are transformed, one finds nonbelievers, escapists, drug addicts and agnostics, as well as highly evolved sadhakas, well-versed vedic scholars, renowned scientists, artists, poets and pundits, as also simple, ordinary folk who delight in His divine discourses. Bhagavan accepts and welcomes them all as His children. He is compassionate to the sinner, comforting to the distressed and a guide to the agnostic and the confused, whom He leads by the hand into the realm of light. "
Awakening during Dreams
Dreams are also part of the Sai strategy. He has appeared in the dreams of many who were unaware of Him and has drawn them to Himself. Karen Fromer Blanc dreamt that a person with a huge crown of hair came to her and said, "Stay with your Hilda." "Hilda who?" she wondered. Five years later she discovered Hilda Charlton, Baba's devotee. The discovery transformed her life. Now she has written a book entitled 'Dear Hilda'!
John Prendergast of the California Institute of Asian Studies has written an article 'Swami Dreams', focussing more on their instructional value and less on the paranormal processes. He says,
"The overall aspect of these dream-experiences with Sai Baba is difficult to gauge, but my own relationship with Baba has deepened immeasurably. I would characterise the primary influence as being the opening of my spiritual heart, of beginning to balance the intellect with the values of love and compassion. Between the spring of 1977 and 1979, Sai Baba has appeared to me during the dream-state nearly forty times. These have profoundly affected my spiritual awakening and the quality of my relationship with Him. Sai Baba has said that it is impossible to see Him in dreams without His willing it. My own experience of active guidance, chastisement, healing and ecstatic states conferred by Him during the dream-state tends to confirm this. My relationship with Sai Baba is, in fact, more intimate in the dream than in the waking state... As the dream-state relationship grows and deepens, my own inner strength and confidence grows and manifests itself in the waking state. In addition to this effect of the dream-reality nurturing and supporting the waking reality, the distinction between the two realities has softened. Increasingly the two blend, so that dream-images rise in the waking mind like distant clouds. "
Willie Kweku Ansah of Accra (Ghana), writes, "Soon after this (the Sathya Sai Centre's invitation to devotees to enrol for a trip to Puttaparthi) I started seeing Swami in my dreams. The first night I woke up with a rather vague feeling that I should think of going to Puttaparthi. I discarded the thought immediately. The next dream was more detailed and lengthy. I saw myself in front of a tall building which had protruding platforms on the first floor. Bhagavan was on the ground floor and I was doing Namaskara (bowing in devotion). At this time I did not know that to dream of Bhagavan was a privilege and not an ordinary occurrence. I dismissed the dream as my silly imagination. In my third dream I saw only the face of Bhagavan for an instant or two. I was forced to wake up in a sweat and with a clear command to go to Puttaparthi."
"I gave my name to the planning committee without an inkling of where the money for the trip would come from. I need not have worried. Within the next few days I made, through a friend, three times my normal annual income for no compelling reason. So the matter was settled. All other arrangements went through without a hitch. Need I also mention that some of the persons I travelled with I had already seen in my dreams. We arrived at Puttaparthi on 21st November. The last thing on my mind were my dreams. A friend decided to take a round of the prayer hall, and as we made the turn, I stopped dead in my tracks. My friend asked what the matter was and I uttered something incomprehensible to him. But what had stopped me was the fact that my dream was staring me right in the face with all its details - the protruding platform, the architecture and the colors."
"One surprise followed another when private interviews were granted in a room on the ground floor, and I did my Namaskara exactly where I had dreamt it. However, all these surprises were nothing compared to what I experienced when I went to bid farewell to Bhagavan. 'When are you coming again?' He asked. I was not expecting the question, as the very thought of being so lucky as to come again was far from my mind. I was, therefore, flushed, and in delighted confusion blurted out that I did not know and that this time I came because I had had a dream... Bhagavan interrupted in a tone which seemed as if He was irritated; I was accounting something He already knew. 'I know I know,' He said, and patted my back. Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras (1.38) says that the aspirant gets guidance through dreams, but even he does not mention that the guru, if he is an avatar, can frame dreams for us and figure in them himself, furnishing timely guidance."
A Book and a Journey
Baba says, "No one can come to Prasanthi Nilayam unless I call him." The dream is one of the means He uses to draw people towards Himself.
Lawrence Galante from New York writes, "I enrolled at Hoftra University to study more of my profession, Tai Chi, and the related philosophy. Then I awoke one morning from a vivid dream. In this dream the title of a book was clearly visible to me with the cover layout. It was entitled, 'Sai Baba: Contemporary Mystic, Master and God '. Then it dawned upon me, 'Why not? Why not write my thesis on contemporary mysticism and use Sai Baba as my subject?' I cleared it with the university... I decided that I could not write about Him unless I first saw Him and confirmed these miracles for myself. I also realised that I might just go to Him and find out that He was a fake. If so, I had reasoned, I could still write a thesis to expose a colossal fraud. That would also do. (Baba says, 'Come, see, experience, examine and then believe '). But how do I get to India? My bank account was nil. I turned to Sai Baba and addressed Him saying, 'If you want me to write this, then you must provide the money for me to get to India, because I am broke. ' Within 48 hours, I received a cheque in the mail for a thousand dollars from the city of New York, a sum that was owed me for several years and which I had been trying in vain for some time to collect...
I remained with Sai Baba for two months. Daily I observed him attending to the multitudes that came to Him - healing the sick and materialising objects and giving them away as gifts to devotees. Everything that Baba taught me was good and all of His endeavours were beneficial. He also gave me permission to write about Him which is what I am doing now. Sai Baba does not work in secrecy. His activities are an open book for all to witness and draw their own conclusions from. Baba often says 'My Life is My Message.' I pray, that I may receive more and more His message."
Baba has declared very often that He wills the dream as a means of communication with the dreamer, in order to grant him courage, confidence and clarity of thought.
Miss Occah Seapaul of Trinidad has also been directed by Baba to publish in a book, her talks on His message to several groups of devotees on that West Indian island. Receiving His counsel in a dream is as mandatory as a personal command. According to Aurobindo, "The avatar, or divinity, acts according to another consciousness - the consciousness of the truth above and the Leela below." Baba told Dr. M.S. Ramakrishna Rao of Vishakhapatnam, when he enquired about the authenticity of a dream in which Baba had rendered him the clarification of a spiritual problem,
"When I appear in a dream, it is to communicate something to the individual. It is not a mere dream as is generally known. Do not think that these incidents you experienced in your dream are stretches of your imagination. I was giving answers thereby to all your doubts."
H. Narayana Rao, while in bed in the intensive care cardiac unit at the K.E.M. Hospital in Bombay, awaiting implantation of an artificial pace-maker, dreamt that visitors were streaming into the ward. Among them was Baba, who stopped near his bed and spoke in His soft, reassuring voice, "My son! I know how much you are worried about the artificial pace-maker and the operation. Do not worry in the least. From now on your pulse will gradually improve. Count the days from today, and on the eleventh day, which will be Saturday the 17th, you can go home. " And in spite of the doctors putting forward various other proposals, he was discharged exactly on the 17th, with his heart quite normal.
When I read a letter from Professor Kausal of Kurukshetra in which he had mentioned that he had resigned his job after being advised by Baba in a dream to do so, I was reminded of another devotee who withdrew a petition he had filed in a civil court. His claim to some property was so strong that he fought his rival through all the labyrinths of law, in spite of all the tension involved and the massive sums of money he had to spend. The suit had possessed him and he was refusing to reconsider. But Baba appeared in his dream and ordered him to give up his mislaid attachment. "Properties are not proper-ties," said Baba with a strange emphasis. Kausal writes, "The dreams are effective, vivid, personal and peace-giving. I cannot brush them aside, especially since Baba later confirms them and continues the advice He vouchsafes during the dream-session."
Baba urges people by means of dream-appearances to come to His presence. He smoothens the difficulties that deter them from undertaking the journey and encourages them to enter the spiritual path towards self-realisation. We have already seen this stratagem of His love in the accounts given by Willie Ansah of Accra and Lawrence Galante of New York.
Dr. Sandweiss writes of another interesting instance of Baba's compassion: "Lila and I were discussing Sai Baba, and she became intrigued. She read a book about Him and began to consider the possibility of meeting Him herself. She was then deeply in debt and there seemed to be no feasible way for her to get the money to go to India. Her husband, Homer, an inventor, had no steady income at that time and had not been able to sell an invention in over five years. Yet, as highly unrealistic as the trip did seem, she made plans to go and obtained her vaccination certificate and passport. Then some strange things began to happen. One day, feeling particularly depressed, she had an unusual dream in which Baba appeared, His eyes twinkling with fun. Soon afterwards, Homer hit upon an invention. After a swift and improbable chain of events, some people became interested in it and his financial position suddenly and quite unexpectedly improved - the first time in years that this had happened. Lila now had enough money for the trip just a week before takeoff, and being completely prepared, she found herself jubilantly boarding the plane with us."
It is beyond doubt that Baba plans, designs and structures the dreams through which He initiates or deepens His impact on people. Ponder over another incident related by Dr. Sandweiss, involving Jeff from California.
Dr. Sandweiss writes, "In the interview room where we all sat, Baba was smiling and rocking back and forth blissfully. He turned to Jeff, the fellow next to me, and said casually, 'I've come to you twice in dreams. ' Now, as a psychiatrist, I have certainly never heard of a colleague talking this way to a patient. Psychiatrists deal with dreams all the time; but to say, 'I've come to you twice in dream' would be somewhat disconcerting for the average patient... Baba began to describe and interpret one of Jeff's dreams and it became quite evident to me that He had in some way fashioned the psychic experience of this man, had actually created dreams for him and visited him in another dimension of reality. Everything that Baba said was confirmed by Jeff. Here was the greatest psychiatrist I had ever seen!"
Sri Jaganhesan once asked Baba towards the end of an interview with Him, "Bhagavan! Why don't you ever come in my dreams?" "Baba", he writes, "bent down lovingly and replied, 'Okay from now on I will come in your dreams on Wednesdays.' I regard Tuesday as a holy day because a Vibhuti -materialization from His picture in my house first occurred on Tuesday, 8th June 1976. Recognising this, Baba laughed, and without my asking amended His statement the next moment. 'No, No! Tuesdays, eh?' " And on Tuesdays the dream brings Baba into his view as an unfailing gift of grace.
Once, during a visit to Brindavan (Whitefield) along with Dr. Sandweiss, Elsie Cowan excitedly knocked at his room very early one morning saying, "I am feeling very close to Walter this morning." When Walter had cast off his mortal coil at Tustin, California, Baba had telegraphed to Elsie, "Walter arrived here in good shape." Elsie told Sandweiss, "I feel that Baba and Walter have paid me a special visit. I have been wide awake since six o'clock and full of energy." When both of them reached Prasanthi Nilayam that evening, Baba called them in along with a few others and, in the midst of the conversation, He suddenly said to Elsie, "Walter and I paid you a visit this morning." "Yes, Yes!" said Elsie, "At six o'clock I felt so filled." "No, five minutes to six!" He corrected her. And Sandweiss adds, "I began to see Baba less as an omnipresent controller of great forces than as a manifestation of pure love. Clearly, His love for His devotees motivates His actions."
Baba has often said that being in this body, as distinct from the 'Shirdi' body, He feels it is not enough if a few needy humans get spiritual guidance from Him:
"It is necessary to draw all and sundry and provide them with succor and sustenance. I must give them what they want until they begin to want what the Avatar has come to give."
Shirdi Baba appeared in dreams to give warnings and counsel; He spoke in symbols and veiled phrases; He helped solve mundane problems and personal tangles; He invited to Dwarakamai, through mysterious intimations, Sadhakas and service-oriented souls, suffering and suspicion-afflicted persons, and awakened their latent, inner urge towards self-realization by a mere look, a touch, a smile or a pinch of sacred ash. This same strategy is unfolding on an even grander scale in the Sathya Sai era. Now the world has to be awakened and shaken out of its arrogance and schizophrenia by revelations of truth and declarations of love. While in 'Shirdi ' form, the declaration of being an avatar was made in the comparative privacy of conversation. In the Sathya Sai manifestation, the declaration that He is all the names and forms through which mankind has adored God down the centuries, was made at a World Conference in Bombay before twenty-five thousand listeners, and many times subsequently, when hundreds of thousands were present. Through films, tapes, books and oral testimony, the uniqueness of this Divine Phenomenon and His wisdom, power, love and compassion are drawing increasing love and adoration, which has united millions into one ever-growing family of mankind.
Pride Punished
Arthur Osborne once said that Shirdi Sai Baba, was 'incredible'. Dr. S. Bhagavantham announced that Sri Sathya Sai Baba is 'inexplicable'. I have to conclude that He is 'inscrutable', for He is the very embodiment of the Divinity described in the following story from the Upanishads, revealing Its glory and power.
The Universal Absolute, Brahman, conferred victory on the gods in their war against the demons. The gods were saved from thraldom and became mighty once again. But in their pride they ascribed their success to themselves; they traced it to their own prowess. To make them aware of their dependence on the Source of all power and wisdom, it appeared before them as a pillar of light, even while they were celebrating their victory in drink and dance, revelry and rejoicing. Noticing this strange Phenomenon, the gods were curious to know what it was and why it was interrupting their noisy spree. They sent the god of fire, Agni, to investigate it and report. The Phenomenon accosted the god who replied, "I am Agni. I can burn all things that come in contact with me." The Phenomenon invited him to burn a tiny stalk of dry grass which It placed before him. But however forcefully and gigantically he fell upon it, he could not burn it. So he returned to the gathering of gods, crestfallen and humiliated. The god of wind, Vayu, next ventured to challenge the Phenomenon to reveal its identity and its intentions. He, too, had to eat his boastful words, foiled by the blade of grass. Indra, the lord of the gods, was incensed by the overwhelming powers of this column of light, but he, too, had to swallow his pride and realise that a god as feeble as he had no right to confront that mighty Source of Glory.
Baba had declared even in His teens,
"Not only today, but at any time hereafter, it will be beyond the capacity of anyone, however hard he may try and by whatever means, to assess My true nature."
Critics and commentators do not realise that in the realm of the sacred, any explanation is a limitation, a hesitation, desecration.
The Halo
Scholars and scientists, isolated in their conceit, have for over four decades set out to expose Him as a fraud, a juggler and a trickster, but failed to tarnish even the hem of His robe. In this age, when the senses are the final criteria of knowledge, when passion rules the brain and prejudice pollutes the mind, a phenomenon shedding light, showering love and embodying truth automatically becomes a target for doubt, suspicion and denigration. Every wayward preacher comes to find in Him a challenge that he is powerless to understand and accept. He is an unpleasant and unwelcome reminder to the half-baked persons who are disembogued by modern universities, of the inadequacy of the intellect and the infirmity of the senses. How else are we to interpret the presumptuous assertion that the "halo around Baba rests entirely on the miraculous production of material objects which appeal to, and excite the wonder of, credulous people"?
Let Shri M. Rasgotra explain to us what that halo rests on: "We all emerge from the encounter with Baba in interview, exalted and radiant, as if Baba has stripped us of our motley cloaks full of patches, and fitted us out in love's pure raiment for a fresh journey towards a new destination. The transformation begins almost at the first moment of contact, and the process of ceaseless and irresistible uplift never slackens thereafter."
Shri B. Ramanand, while describing a wedding that was celebrated at Prasanthi Nilayam during which he had witnessed Baba for the first time, writes, "In five minutes we felt He was one of us; He talked to us as if He had known us intimately all along. This intense humanness, this wonderful camaraderie He has for all persons whom He meets, this remarkable quality of being one with the people around Him, this superabundance of good humor, joy, love and affection to all, made a powerful impact on me."
Baba says that His much-debated miracles are as insignificant before His true purpose as a mosquito when compared to the mighty elephant. We pay homage to Baba recognizing the waves of gratitude that surge around His feet from hearts reinforced by the impact of His love, minds cleansed by the splendor of His grace, intellects made healthy and wholesome by imbibing His wisdom and bodies strengthened and straightened by the inflow of His compassion.
Richard Bock of Los Angeles, who was advised by Ravi Shanker and Indira Devi to approach Baba in the spirit of a pupil going to a guru, writes, "I remember going through a period when I wore a Japamala (rosary) with 108 beads, as a sort of badge. Baba came over to me, looked at it and said, 'It's heavy for O m.' He meant that I was showing off. So, I realized, it was nonsense. Like everybody else I did Namaste when Baba came into the room. He came over and hit my hands, saying, 'jhootha bhakti '. When I found out later that it meant 'false devotion ', I realized that I didn't know what I was doing. What He was getting across was that until you feel it in your heart, don't go through a ritual. The next thing was that everybody wanted to touch His feet, so I figured that was something I, too, should do. When I tried to touch His feet, He said, 'No'. I realised, then, that I was doing it because every body else was doing it, that I myself didn't have any inner motivation at that moment to touch His feet."
I Want You
Like the Upanishadic god of fire, Arnold Schulman, too, belittled the Sai Phenomenon, in spite of a tour of India that included a visit to Brindavan and a few minutes with Baba. That experience was enough for him to conclude - and be happy in the discovery - that mystics in India were clever exploiters, and their disciples ordinary 'psychopathic compulsives'. Baba has declared,
"Those who deny Me are blinded by ignorance or pride, so they need even more compassion and grace. Those who stay away, or stray away, I shall beckon back."
Baba, from Whom nothing can be hidden and for Whom nobody is distant, became aware of this blinkered tourist's belief. Schulman was mysteriously 'possessed' by an idea - to write a book on Baba - which he tried his best to explain away, circumvent, rationalize and deny; still it would not leave him alone. He told himself that it was insane, impracticable and impossible, but it refused to loosen its hold on him, persisting in its emphasis. Three months later, when he was able to secure an interview, Baba told him, "I asked you to write the book not because I wanted your book. The book is publicity. I don't need publicity. I wanted you, you, you! " And He sent him back to America, wiser and happier, the veil of supercilious ignorance regarding mystics and their disciples removed from his now clearer vision.
Like the Upanishadic god of wind, Samuel H. Sandweiss, M.D., renowned psychiatrist, proceeded towards the Phenomenon in full confidence that he could easily prick the bubble of its bombastic magnificence. He writes, "I would go as a scientist to study and understand the psychological realities of a situation shrouded in mysticism, only to prove that miracles do not exist." Sandweiss approached the Sai Phenomenon and soon returned like the god Vayu, to his companions who were drinking and dancing, unaware of the reality which was directing their destiny. Sandweiss had decided to meet Baba when he heard extraordinary stories about Him from Indra Devi, to whom he had gone for consultations regarding Yoga. Baba, even when physically present at Prasanthi Nilayam or Brindavan, arouses ardour and yearning, awakens curiosity and interest, stimulates thirst and restlessness, assures comfort and cure and alerts and admonishes in dreams and through visions. Each one who moves to His presence with hope and confidence, has a story to tell, each more fascinating and reassuring than the other.
Pardon me if I present myself as the insolent Indra who, in 1948, was too impertinent to put up with the 'miracles' of Baba, yet was too curious to tolerate Him without a personal examination. I was then famous in the Kannada-speaking region of India - the state of Karnataka - as a humor writer, and I had a large reading public admiring me as the Stephen Leacock of that language. I then aimed my humor at Baba, 'the Phenomenon'. The word Sai in Kannada means 'die' - it is expletive, a command to extinguish life. "How can a person calling on us to address him as Sai be adored in Karnataka?" I quipped. Besides, I had gulped, without discerning, the dictum spread by the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission that the performance of miracles is a very unspiritual exercise which drags the Sadhaka into the depths of worldliness. So I hastened towards Baba in the hope that he could be exposed and explained. Like Indra, I returned after the encounter with my prejudices corrected, my myopia cured and my pride pulverized. I am engaged ever since in enthusing all people to follow the message of Baba and in adoring Him as the savior of mankind. Those who venture to defy or deny Him, ultimately return to remain in His presence with folded hands and supple minds, meditating on His form, reciting His name and elevating themselves to divinity.
The Documentary
When Arnold Schulman heard himself ask Baba, "Are you God ?" Baba replied, "How can an ant measure the depth of the ocean or a fish discover the truth of the sky? " This answer stuns our reason dumb. But every act of Baba does the same.
After thirty-one years of having known Him, I feel that to doubt the authenticity of the following experience of Indira Devi is a sacrilege to Sai: "I looked up at the picture of Bhagavan and prayed, 'Bhagavan, please take me to Puttaparthi for your birthday.' Two days later, a young man who had come to the Sai Centre at Tecate, phoned, 'Mataji, could you go to India tomorrow if Warner Bros. pay your trip? They want Baba's permission to make a documentary film on His life.' " She was met at the airport by someone from the company. When she came to Prasanthi Nilayam with the proposal, I felt elated at the prospect of the film. She was very much there during the Birthday festival and she carried Baba's response to the request back home. But when she contracted Warner Bros., who had arranged and paid for her trip, "No one knew me there," she writes, "nor about the trip, nor the film, nor Bhagavan. The red-faced executive told me that he would investigate and let me know. Years have passed and I am still waiting to hear what he has to tell me from his inquiry!"
Muriel Engle writes from San Diego on the Pacific Coast: "Ruth has a teaching job in Mexico. She is busy going back and forth. She attends Bhajans on Thursdays at Santa Barbara, but is still a sceptic. Her health problems have been tormenting her since long. She has bouts of extreme pain for several days at a stretch. One evening in her little room she suffered from terrible pain, and in her desperate agony she was crying out, 'Oh is there someone to help me? Anyone? Why am I suffering this? What shall I do? Oh, help!' "
Suddenly she felt a gentle touch on her arm. She stopped shouting and, as she turned, there stood Baba beside her bed, "Don't shout so," He said, "I am always here." Then, He disappeared. And along with Him the pain, too, had gone. This is another instance of His omnipresence. Baba says,
"There is only one God and He is omnipresent. He has no favourite dwelling place or chosen followers or special groups of devotees. Call - He answers, He manifests, He blesses. "
Letters to Him
Professor S. Bashiruddin of the Osmania University, while driving down with Baba from Ooty, in the Nilgiri Hills, asked, "Swami, if a devotee sends a letter or a telegram to Your Bangalore address but You happen to be at Ooty, Bombay or any other place, would it be redirected to You if it is marked 'Urgent'?" Baba answered, "A letter or a telegram is a mere carbon copy. If the thought in the letter or telegram is sincere, it need not be delivered to Me. The moment the thought is shaped in a devotee's mind it reaches Me, and the necessary guidance is transmitted."
When a few university men belonging to a blatantly propagandist and rationalist association, wrote to Baba insisting on an examination of His credentials, Baba said, "Sai is not a subject for a university examination; He is an object for universal examination. "
Joel Roydon had no respect for Baba, who was worshipped by his wife. So he astonished his friends when he announced that he was flying to India with her to meet 'the wild-haired character'. When asked what he proposed to ask Baba for, he jocularly replied that he would ask for a rainbow in the sky. "No magician can ever pull a rainbow out of his sleeves," he jested. When he reached Puttaparthi and sat on a rock atop the hill to enjoy a smoke, "We saw a rainbow go straight up the eastern sky," Joel writes, "never curving, and within seconds it had reached its peak. As quickly as it grew, it dissolved itself, from the bottom up!" Next, when he was called by Baba for an interview, the question with which Joel was greeted was, "So, how did you like the rainbow? "
Aldous Huxley says, "The divine mind may choose to communicate with finite minds either by manipulating the world of men and things in ways which the particular mind to be reached at that moment will find meaningful, or else there may be direct communication by something resembling thought transference." Denise (Saivahini) Eversole wrote in the daily paper, Movement, in California, about her visit to a Sri Sathya Sai Baba shrine in South India: "Vibhuti pours from Baba's photographs, and two small, enamel medallions of Baba exude a jasmine-scented sweet nectar called Amrita. A large jar daily fills up with this syrup, and the photographs are scraped clear. [See also: Gifts of Grace] Both these manifestations of Baba's grace are given freely to all visitors. We received large containers of each, and watched carefully as more, and yet more, Vibhuti and Amrita formed and poured from the blessed objects... Nearby the Kauveri river, a short walk from the temple leads one to a pair of stone feet. From the feet oozes an oil with the most enchanting fragrance. This we wiped on our scarves and kerchiefs and whatever else we had, and watched as more oil oozed up from between the toes. It was my fourth visit to this shrine, but I never tire of witnessing these evidences of God's omnipotence."
Since Coming Back
In April 1972, Elsie and Walter Cowan returned from India to California. To a Sai group Elsie announced, "We have come back from India, my husband and I, brimful of the most astounding news that can happen to anyone. It is so fantastic that many of you may doubt it, because hardly any of us can imagine the great importance and the tremendous power of this great, high god, who not only walks the earth, but cares for all the planes from earth to eternity. Walter died at Madras; Sai Baba resurrected him!" A few months later, Walter Cowan wrote to me, "I am really feeling fine. Would you believe that I have gained about thirty pounds since 'coming back'?" Inscrutable, but true.
Examiner and Examinee
Here is another story from Mexico: "A dozen families live on our hill in Mexico which slopes down to the Pacific Ocean, about 300 feet below. Most of the people are retired Americans. There are one or two Mexican families also. The hill itself is not of solid rock, but is sedimentary ocean-floor uplift, comprising a mass of sand, boulders, clay, seashells, etc. A recent vertical cut for a new highway weakened the hill. In September 1976, it started sliding towards the ocean. Before long, two houses had fallen and other houses broke into half. The authorities ordered all remaining houses to be evacuated, because government geologists had declared that all the houses would be destroyed by the earth movement. At this critical juncture I was scheduled to leave on a tour of Sri Sathya Sai Baba centres. We prayed to Baba to save the houses of our small community.
"Throughout the tour I remained anxious about this occurrence, but on my return was relieved to find all the remaining houses intact as before. The geologists were measuring the hill each day and were unable to discover why part of the hill was stationary and had not moved even a fraction of an inch. Of course, they did not know about the prayer nor that we had affixed a picture of Bhagavan to a window directly facing the ocean side."
John Hislop, who wrote me this letter, has published a book entitled, 'Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba '. Baba tells Hislop,
"It is perfectly all right to ask all these questions and clear all your doubts. You are examining Swami and Swami is giving the answers. But when all this is finished and the next time you come around, Swami will be the examiner and you will have to be ready with the right answers in your mind and heart."
"Before going to Sai Baba, I told Indira Devi that everything but the miracles I can accept," writes Richard Bock. "Those bothered me because I had read the Ramakrishna Kathamrita, which says that you have to be aware of Siddhis (ascetically acquired powers), for they can lead you astray. So I felt that showing off this power was somehow egotistical and was not the highest level of expression. Therefore, I had doubts as to His motives in displaying them. But when I got closer and began to experience them, I realized that they were so natural to Him, and the reason behind them so sound, that I could see He was coming from a different space. He was not becoming something - that He already was - so there was nothing that could spoil Him... For a Westerner, it usually takes something to blow his mind off the material world that he is entrapped in and the idea that everything can be figured out scientifically. So Baba creates something out of time, breaking what usually look like scientific natural laws, and creates a so-called miracle.
"The thing that blew my mind was what happened when Indira Devi asked Him if she could have some more of the 'healing ash', because she had given away all of her first supply to people. He said 'yes' and, as I was watching, he moved His hand in a circle and then held up both hands, as if to receive something. Then an urn, about four inches high, appeared in mid-air and plopped into His hands. I saw this and said, 'That's not sleight of hand, that's not up His sleeve, that's something else.' He took off the top and spilled all the ash onto a piece of paper. Then He poured again, and another urnful of ash poured out, so that in total He had poured out double the amount of ash that the urn could possibly hold. Next, He put half of it back in the urn and distributed some to the people near by. What was left He put in a little handkerchief bag and gave it to Indira. He touched it and said, 'Now this will be an inexhaustible supply and you won't run out of it.' Well, she has had it for ten years now and it is still flowing. And she has given it to thousands of people. After that experience with Baba, whether or not God exists is no longer a question in my mind." This is what Richard Bock related to an interviewer from the Movement, in September 1979.
Baba is so compassionate that He designs a new strategy for every individual He decides to reform or transform. At one and the same time, in all parts of the world, increasing numbers of people experience His grace by means of an 'inner voice' or intuition, during silent spells or amidst the clank of crowds, or through His direct manifestation in physical form - conveying warnings, revitalizing faith and clearing doubts. A telegram which in fact was never transmitted, a letter which was never posted or a phone call which was never dialled, can reveal His affection and awaken, assure or advise a person struggling in the dark, ultimately revealing the hand of God beckoning him to Prasanthi Nilayam.
Sanathana Sarathi
On Sivarathri day in 1958 the monthly magazine designed to communicate the message of Bhagavan to the world was inaugurated. He named it Sanathana Sarathi. These two words taken together spell the function that Baba has taken upon Himself. Sanathana denotes His being the very source of all this 'becoming'. In a written message to Shri. R.R. Chatterji of the Sathya Sai Seva Samithi, Calcutta, announcing the mission for which He has assumed this human form, Baba made a declaration which nobody since the days of Lord Krishna had the good fortune to listen to:
"There was no one to know who I am till I created the world, at My pleasure, with one word. Immediately earth and sky were formed, mountains rose up, rivers started flowing, sun, moon and stars sprang out of nowhere to prove My existence. Came all forms of life - plants, insects, beasts, birds and men. Various powers were bestowed upon them under My orders. The first place was granted to man, and My knowledge was placed in man's mind."
Sanathana means 'timeless, eternal'. Baba has said that He always was, is, and ever will be. He is Sanathana, now limited in time and space, so that He can be availed of by us. The Upanishads speak of embodied beings as chariots which are drawn along by the senses (horses) through the objective world. Safety lies in choosing a knowledgeable Sarathi (charioteer) and installing him with unimpeded authority in the chariot. By taking upon Himself the role of the Sanathana Sarathi, Baba has revealed that He is the eternal Inner Motivator in all-recognized or unrecognized, acknowledged or ignored, respected or slandered. "My knowledge was placed in man's mind, " He says. But the mind allows itself to be covered by veils, so that pure knowledge becomes warped or is denied.
The first issue of the magazine contained a message from Baba wherein He spoke of the high purpose which it had set out to fulfil:
"From this day, our Sanathana Sarathi will lead to victory the cohorts of truth - the Vedas, the Sastras and similar scriptures of all faiths - against the forces of the ego such as injustice, falsehood, immorality and cruelty. This is the reason why it has emerged. This Sarathi will fight in order to establish world prosperity. It is bound to sound the paean of triumph when universal Ananda is achieved."
Baba is ever conscious that He is the cosmic principle that has transformed Itself into human form. He is the goal, the guide and the guardian whom every being seeks. He gives expression to this truth in His discourses and writings. As a proem to His discourses He sometimes sings, in either Telugu or Sanskrit, a short verse which lifts the veil of mystery hiding him from our eyes, and in a flash makes us aware of some facet of His plan to rehabilitate man. He declared,
"The same Vishnu who rewarded Dhruva with material and spiritual glory and saved Prahlâda from the cruelty of those who sought, through torture, to break his faith in the Lord, that same Gopala who showered grace on the impoverished and famished Kuchela, is here now, the embodiment of Wisdom and Bliss, the ruler enthroned in the hearts of good men, the compassionate monitor of all those who stray away from the right path."
On one occasion He sang another poem which had spontaneously blossomed on His lips:
"Why does the sun rise and set everyday without delay or disruption? Why do the stars that light the sky to the delight of all eyes, hide their splendorous faces when the day dawns, and never even slyly peer to tell us where they are? Why does air always be around, giving us the breath of life? Why do these streams and rivers roar, murmur, gurgle and gossip over rock, pebble and sand, as they meander along towards the parent sea? How is it that the billions that constitute mankind, though they are caskets treasuring images of the same entity, remain distinct from each other in appearance, achievement, aspiration and attitude? This is the answer: Know that I am the One who has ordained that these be such and shall behave so."
The Five Elemental Aspects
The Upanishads declare the tests to decide the genuineness of Bhagavân's incarnation thus:
"For fear of Him, fire burns; for fear of Him, wind blows. Indra, the mighty god of gods, also stands in awe of Him. Death hastens towards or flees away, as He directs."
When a greedy forest fire advanced towards chuchuma ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border, where stood the Sai Yoga Institute of Indra Devi, her prayer to Baba turned the fire back by a sudden twist of wind when the flames had reached within yards of the ranch. Shri K.A. Raja, Lt. Governor of Arunchal Pradesh, writes that a huge bamboo cluster within yards of his official residence at Tezpur caught fire and was exploding merrily immediately adjacent to the thatched huts of some Nepalese workmen. Mrs. Raja hastened to the scene and called aloud to Baba to soften the fury of the flames. The letter relates, "The fire extinguished itself in a few seconds; not even a dozen fire engines could have done that job." Similarly, Baba has many a time prevented rain by a mere gesture or oral command, when it had threatened to drench the thousands gathered to have His Darsan and listen to His discourse.
The president of a coach factory near Madras had made a commitment to deliver about 25 coaches as the first instalment of an agreement between the government of India and the government of an overseas state - a prestigious assignment that was secured in spite of overwhelming competition from countries in the front line of industrialized nations. But troubles dogged him at every step. He was very unhappy that he would not be able to load the coaches onto a Japanese ship that had already left Bombay for Madras to take the cargo on board. He prayed to Baba to save the reputation of his factory. Baba said, "The ship will be delayed; hurry on with your work." The ship faced a fierce storm off Cochin and had to undergo some repairs at Colombo. When it finally did reach Madras, the port was too full to allow it into the docks. When, at last, it was ready to receive the coaches, they were waiting, spick and span, to be carried overseas. Bhagavân can initiate or pacify storms when He wills. He welcomes into the realm of death those who clamor for release, and brings back from the gullet of death those who were gobbled while they had yet to play the role He had in mind for them. The words emanating from Him are, therefore, divine commands, which can charge us with an immense potency and purity and change us into reservoirs of love and light.
Come Again
On another occasion, preliminary to the hoisting of the Prasanthi flag at the Nilayam, the following poem was sung by Baba:
"The cowherd boy, the son of Nanda (foster father of Krishna) [see: Bhagavata Vahini, Chapter 44], has come again among you, embodied as Ananda, so that He may collect His playmates. The same Râma [see: Ramakatha Vahini] has come again, with a great deal of Aram (leisure), since now there is no burden of imperium, no dynastic responsibility; He has come again to give his erstwhile followers the chance of service. The same Sai has come to you from Shirdi to be in the midst of his erstwhile companions and comrades. Once again, the same all-comprehensive, omnipresent Principle named Vishnu has come in this comprehensible, cognisable human form, so that you may benefit from Him. He has come without His instruments and weapons, for He has willed to forge them here itself. "
Baba has herein asserted that He is the self-determined human expression of that super intelligence, that absolute will. He says,
"For you, birth is an anxious moment; childhood is fraught with anxiety; living is a series of anxious moments; livelihood is earned through a chain of anxious events; old age and death cause dire anxiety; even joy brings about the anxiety that you might lose it soon; all activity is saturated with anxiety. But barter all this anxiety for only one anxiety - how to win the grace of Sai - and you will be free from the big brood of worry and unrest. "
His prologue-verses often deal with devotees, telling them how steady faith alone can earn eternal peace:
"Compassion in the eyes; sweet words on the tongue; nectarous gleam on a smiling face; joy ever residing in the heart; reassurance in every gesture of the hands - that is Sai. Do not lose hold and give up the Savior who has come to you. "
Hold Fast
Ponder over the significance of this verse He sang years ago:
"Something you have held, while seeking to hold something, hold on to it most firmly. Something you did ask for, though asking is not needed; persist till the gift is granted. Some desire you have entertained in your mind, though there is no need to desire; still, knock at the door until it opens and your desire is fulfilled. Either I must grant you the thing that you crave for, unable to withstand your yearning; or you must realize its very absurdity and conquer that worthless yearning. "
True to the declaration He made at the first World Conference that He is all names and forms by which man has ever tried to describe God, the annunciatory verse He sings on days dedicated to Râma, Krishna or Shiva would often be about the identity between Him and the deity that is being adored. On a Shivarathri day a few years ago, He proclaimed, while standing before a festive gathering of twenty-five thousand people,
"This day Shiva has come into the view of mortals - Shiva, dwelling in the village of Parthi. He carries on Him matted hair, the Ganges flowing from it, the eye in the centre of the brow, the dark-complexioned throat, the serpent wristlets, and tiger-skin around the waist, the red dot on the forehead and the pan (betel) - produced redness on the lips. "
When He led a party of about a hundred and fifty devotees to the famous Himalayan shrine of Nârâyana, He addressed them at Hardwar before starting on the mountain trek, saying, "Yours is a unique chance: going to Nârâyana with Nârâyana. "
The Unseen Force
Once Baba sang a verse in which He declared that He is the Unseen Force that regulates the movements of celestial bodies and all forms of life, and designs the destinies of each of us. This was when He inaugurated the all India conference of Sai organizations held at Madras. If the Will is all-powerful and eternal, it can, of course, come down and move as a man among men. At another time He said,
"There are three types of men: those who seek happiness for themselves first, with no attention paid to others; those who consider others first and thereby derive happiness; and those who will try to prevent others from being happy even at the cost of their own happiness. "
To a group of Americans He once gave a message that was different in emphasis.
"You are the smiling flower," He wrote, "you are the twinkling star. What is there on the earth and in the sky that you are not? Then, why need you desire? You are the God of the universe. You create the universe and, after playing with it for sometime, draw it into yourself and are the same again. What you really are is Truth - Consciousness - Bliss. "
Baba insists that every one be made aware of the goal of life, which is to pass from the stage of 'I am in the Light' to the stage 'the Light is in me' on to the ultimate truth that 'I am the Light.' When you are the Light, there can be no darkness, no desire, no fear, no hatred, no ego.
In the following message to children, Baba is simple and direct, as if they were really sitting around Him, their eyes wide open in wonder:
Dear Children, You have been born in this most glorious country, Bharat, and have grown up here. Unless you learn to know of its history, its holy traditions, the lives and teachings of its men of wisdom and piety, what else is there for you to learn? Light the lamp of morality and righteousness, the lamp that once shone bright in this land. Let its light illumine the world.
In a message to students He has asked,
"Can the goal of life be just this? To struggle amidst the waves of joy and grief that rise and fall in the visible, objective world; to be carried along the swift current of desire, gathering food, shelter, comfort, and sensual pleasure and, finally, to flounder on the rocks of death? "
In another message He emphasises a basic truth:
"Seeking a high standard of living instead of a high level of living, has played havoc with human society. A high level of living insists on morality, humility, detachment and compassion; a competitive race for luxury and conspicuous consumption is not encouraged. Now man has become a slave of his desires and finds himself helpless before the urge to earn pleasure and luxury. Being too weak to keep his baser urges under control, he cannot arouse the Divinity that is latent in him. "
Baba has said that in this incarnation He is the supreme teacher. "Aham Satyabodhaka" (I am the Teacher of Truth), He says. He teaches at all times, in all places and by all means. He showers love and wins you; He withholds love and cures you. Once He administered a mild admonition to some devotees who had expected a continuous flow of 'plums and roses'. Then He enlightened them:
"Do you delight when I allow you to be near Me? The next moment I might cause the sorrow of separation. Do you feel that Sai takes delight in your tears? Just then I might make you laugh till your sides ache, and continue to grant you joy, again and again. Do you feel a sense of elevation when I praise you a little? That very moment I may prick the bubble of your pride by means of ridicule. Do you feel secure when I tell you not to fear? The next moment I might inflict pain and appear indifferent when you pray for relief. I do not allow you to go back, nor do I allow you to go forward! I madden your mind and smother your ego. Find out how any one can move away from this charming Sai, the embodiment of Love and Light. Find out the reason why He is indispensable, in spite of this dual role. "
In this message He has revealed that every act of His, every flash of anger or twinkle in the eye, every smile or curve of the brow, has a deep significance for the recipient. Many such messages are composed in verse extempore and sung by Baba, expressing the mood of the moment and answering unspoken thoughts and questions that agitate the mass of people gathered to hear Him.
"When you have before you the wish-fulfilling tree," He sings, "why do you desire to foster inferior trees?" "When you have for the asking the cow (Kamadhenu) that yields all that you need, why do you seek the common cow for milk? When you have the Meru mountain, rich in gold and silver, why do you run about frantically in search of petty gains? When you have with you the Sai Who gives liberation, why do you crave for lesser joys that dissolve again into grief? "
Most of Baba's discourses are a commentary on some such basic idea enshrined in poetry and song.
A group of Americans once prayed for a message to take home with them to the States. So Baba, in His own attractive calligraphy, wrote,
"The fruit has to be sweet, though the rind can afford to be bitter. It is the juice and its sugar content that count; put away the rind of anger, malice, envy and greed and assimilate the sweetness of the fruit, so that sweetness can develop within you... Be a lotus: The lotus is born in slime and mud, but rises up through the water and lifting its head above it, refuses to get wet, although it springs from water. Be like the lotus or the lily-unattached. "
Baba teaches us by means of His letters, discourses, books and articles. He writes in simple and elegant, colloquial Telugu or English prose. The message is always extempore, His ideas receiving expression as mellifluous poems and songs showering exquisite delight. His script is reminiscent of charming monastic artistry; the lines are straight and parallel, resembling floral garlands spread out upon a paper. Poetry and melody shine through each sentence, and behind each phrase and clause lies a form that is clearly human, though it carries divine wisdom. Thus Baba's message enables mankind to benefit from the grace and wisdom that He has come to confer.
The Mother Feeds
Baba speaks of Himself as the mother yearning to feed an unruly child who, in its ignorance, refuses to eat what will cure its hunger. The child has to be coddled and coaxed, wheeled and petted, even caught unawares sometimes by means of a story or a song, to induce it to accept the food it needs. Baba's immeasurable love persuades Him to pack a medical dose in a sweet smile, a panacea in a palatable parable or a profound thought in syrupy joke.
Let us dip into the books that Baba has given man in order to draw him to the feast that He has prepared for his hunger. A number of scholars, cynical of matters beyond their ken and proud of their academic achievements, receive these books by post (sent mysteriously by Baba Himself) or through some inexplicable source. These become for them invitations to the Presence, fresh and fascinating as they are.
Baba has said that if He were to be identified by one characteristic more than any other, He could most aptly be called Prema Swarupa, the Embodiment of Love. The very first Vahini (stream) that flowed forth from his pen to fertilise the mind of man was the book 'Prema Vahini '. Nârada, the great exponent of love as a spiritual discipline, defines that path as Sathasmin Parama Prema Swarupa (it is of the nature of supreme devotion or love to That). The love is described as supreme, because it is full and free, with no conditions, no trace of bargaining, no taint of fear. Once such love is practised and experienced, all distinctions drop, duality ceases, and only the truth remains.
The Gopis
Baba quotes the love of the simple milkmaids and cowherds of Brindavan towards Krishna as the best example of this Parama Prema. Krishna Himself appreciated it thus:
"They long for Me so deeply, their thoughts, words and deeds are so imbued with Me, that they have no sense of time or space, no consciousness of their bodies and their needs. They are so absorbed in Me that they are like rivers that have merged in the ocean and lost their individual names and distinctions. "
Sankara, the great philosopher-saint, wrote of Bhakti : Swa-swarupa anusandhanam bhaktirithi abhidheeya the (the constant contemplation of the Reality which is one's innermost core, is Bhakti).
Baba elaborates on this truth:
"The Atman is the inner core, it is the reality that has to be contemplated upon... When Krishna advises Arjuna to surrender all activity to 'Me' and to take refuge in 'Me', it is but an exhortation to spend every moment in the awareness of the real Me, the Atman, the Swaswaroopa."
Baba says in Prema Vahini:
"Only through love can faith become steady; only through faith can knowledge be gained; only through knowledge can Parabhakti (complete devotion, self-surrender) be ensured and only through Parabhakti can the Lord be realized. "
"Jnanadevathu Kaivalayam, " says the Gîtâ (knowledge alone can confer freedom). Bhakti clarifies the vision, cleanses the mind, strengthens self-control and purifies thought, so that the Lord may be reflected clear and complete in the heart. Regarding the age-old controversy on the relative status of the three paths - Bhakti, Karma and Jnana - that lead to God, Baba writes,
"I do not agree that Bhakti, Karma and Jnana are separate. I do not place any one before the other, nor will I accept a mixture of the three. Karma is Bhakti; Bhakti is Jnana. A piece of candy has taste, weight and shape; the three cannot be separated. Each bit has all the three; we do not find shape in one bit, weight in another and sweetness in the third. When the candy is placed on the tongue, the taste, the weight and the shape are simultaneously experienced. Similarly, Jnana, Karma and Bhakti may be truly experienced only as one whole. "
Karma is love in action, Jnana is love experienced and Bhakti is love universally shared. Thus Baba dismisses in one stroke all disputations about the superiority of any one of these disciplines over the other.
Cups of Many Shapes
Baba has silenced traducers of idol worship too. He says that no one can adore the nameless, formless absolute principle, without sacrificing one's alloy in the crucible of devotion to that same principle in a mentally cognisable and acceptable form.
"No one can be a Nirguna Jnani (knower of the attributeless) without being a Saguna Bhakta (worshipper of the attributeful) " He says.
"Iswara anugrahadeva pumsam adwaitha vasana," says Sankara: It is only through God's own grace that one can comprehend Him as being without name and form.
In 'Prema Vahini' Baba says, "Idols serve the same purpose as metaphors and similes in poetry. They illustrate and illumine the Divine. "
He has also said that idols are only artistic and attractive containers which people use for quaffing the nectar of divine effulgence.
"You cannot quaff it without a cup. One person may like to drink the delight in a 'blue cowherd boy of Brindavan (Vrindâvana)' cup, while another may relish it in a cup depicting the ecstatic 'cosmic dancer' (Lord Shiva) of Kailas. The choice may depend on either hereditary predilection, or on personal choice, or on a wave of spiritual awareness. Whatever the reason or the shape of the vessel, it serves the same high purpose - to help imbibe the joy, the power, the love, the wisdom and the splendor of the one divine entity. "
In the Bhakti Sutra, Nârada has said that a bhakta (devotee) has no worldly worries for he has surrendered himself to the Lord.
Baba writes, "This does not mean that he would sit quiet. Service of man, for the bhakta, is service of God, for he sees God in every man. Free from the alternating waves of like and dislike, worry and exaltation, the bhakta sees the divine as the motivator in himself and in others. He is ever-engaged in good deeds for such is his basic nature. In whatever he does, thinks or speaks, he promotes lokasangraha (the welfare of mankind). He has no worry or disappointment, because for him it is God who provides, performs, proposes, plans and dispenses. "
While the monthly serials of 'Prema Vahini ' in the Sanathana Sarathi were percolating like fresh water into desiccated hearts, another series of Baba's articles was published in the same magazine to remove the weeds of doubt growing wild therein. They were collectively entitled 'Sandeha Nivarini'. Even in His teens and twenties, Baba took delight in prodding those who gathered at His feet to ask Him questions on spiritual matters. These became the cues for dissertations, short and long, with many an interspersed parable, poem or song, to lead the questioners from darkness to light.
Questions Answered
I remember many such question-answer sessions taking place on the Chitravathi sands. Dayananda Sagar (a lawyer), Vittal Rao (a sylviculturist), V. Hanumantha Rao (a civilian officer), and a few others, were prolific interrogators. Many brought their doubts before Baba and prayed for solutions. There were pundits and sadhakas from Venkatagiri, Yerpedu, Vyasasram, Thiruvannamalai (Ramanasram), Pondicherry, Kanhangad and Varkalai Narayanaguru Asram. They returned happy and restful, for their problems received Baba's clear analysis, deep diagnosis, intimate unravelling and effective remedy. There was, one day, a hoary monk from Rishikesh who asked Baba with a touch of nonchalant conceit, how to escape the coils of mâyâ. Baba answered,
"M âyâ does not exist, until you look for it. Don't look for it, it won't affect you. The image of your face is inside the well only when you peep to discover whether it is there."
The monk confessed to me later it was a reply he had never received so far, and it had solved for him a doubt that had haunted him for years.
In 'Sandeha Nivarini ' Baba says,
"I am happy when anyone asks Me about things he has not understood. Of course, you have every right." Then he asks the pupil, "But are you reflecting on the answers I give and are you practising what has been told to you, with the conviction born of faith?... What am I here for? Is it not for explaining to you things you do not know? Ask me without hesitation or fear. I am always ready to answer. Only, the enquiry must be earnest, emerging out of a genuine desire to know and to practise what is good. "
It can be revealed now that the 'bhakta' who visits Baba with questions - personal, philosophic and religious - in every chapter of 'Sandeha Nivarini ', is a creation of the divine pen. Baba reveals through this character, His infinite compassion towards the Samsayatma, the person afflicted with doubts. He poses the problems and provides the answers. He writes,
"bhakta! I converse with you about every point you place before Me, and allow many to take part in this conversation. The sun's light falls upon the mirror, the light from the mirror upon the walls of the bungalow and the light from the walls upon the eye. Similarly, this 'Sandeha Nivarini' has been planned in order that the illumination of My teaching may fall upon you and thence on to the pages of the Sanathana Sarathi, so that the effulgence may illuminate the world and bring light and harmony into the heart of mankind. "
Dharma Is the Refuge
The next book to be serialized in the pages of the Sanathana Sarathi was 'Dharma Vahini'. Baba says,
"Dharma is like the river Saraswati, flowing unseen beneath the deeper levels of human consciousness, feeding the roots of activity, filling the springs of thought, cleansing the slushy eddies of feeling. When the river runs dry or is clogged by greed and hate, the avatar comes to let in a torrent of grace and restore its fresh, free flow. "
Buddha declared that Dharma is the very basis of good life. He insisted that everyone should surrender to its dictates so that the misery that is ever at the heels of life may be avoided. Ashoka, the historic emperor, sweetened every law of his empire with Dharma. He inscribed on rock and pillar his exhortations:
"Hitherto my people and my forefathers went on Vihara yatras (pleasure trips); hereafter I propose only Dharma yatras (pilgrimages). Hitherto they gave Dana (charity, usually in the form of money); hereafter they must give Dharma dana (the gift of the knowledge of Dharma). Hitherto they sought Dig vijaya (conquest of territory); hereafter I exhort them to relish Dharma vijaya (the triumph of righteousness)."
Ashoka knew that Dharma sustains, strengthens and saves.
"Why should man take to the path of Dharma ?" asked Schopenhauer, and then replied to himself, "To preach morality is easy; to lay the foundation for morality is not." Faith in God, who rewards the good and punishes the bad, was a stout bulwark of Dharma for ages. But secularism has undermined this faith. Baba, however, in 'Dharma Vahini' has installed Dharma on an unshakable foundation as the unity of all life, indeed, of creation:
"Whoever conquers the ego and overcomes the natural tendency to regard the body and its furniture as his true self, is surely on the path of Dharma, for he would soon discover the truth behind all this scintillating multiplicity. He would realise that the objective world is like a gem-studded veil over Brahman, which is the one and only truth. Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahman (All is verily Brahman). When man is aware of this truth, there will be no 'other': all will be 'you'. Since you love yourself most, your love will flow in full measure towards all and encompass the living and the non-living. "
As a red indian chief wrote to the president of the United States of America in 1855,
"Every part of this earth is sacred to my people - every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the woods, every clearing and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people."
Dharma has to be built on this deep understanding of the depths of being.
"Build your life," says Baba, "on the atmic plinth, the faith that you are a wave upon the ocean of bliss, a spark of the cosmic intelligence." Then He asks, "When you worship an idol, what is it that you really do? First, a form of God is imprinted on your mind. After that you meditate on His power, grace and omnipresence, and project these qualities upon the idol, thus enabling your consciousness to transcend it and become unaware of the lithic substance before you... In the same manner, imprint onto your consciousness that form of God which delights you most and fills you with illumination, and project that form on every man, beast, bird and insect, on every tree and plant, on every rock and rill; this Sadhana will make you true, good and beautiful. "
This is the fundamental norm: Atmic awareness - the unceasing remembrance of the one appearing to be many. And to the question, "Am I my brother's keeper ?" often asked by those wearing 'I-glasses', Baba answers, "You are your brother; his health is your health; your holiness is his. There is no difference or distinction. If you swim, he swims; if he sinks, it is you who sink. "
The Source of Power
Baba does not agree with the dictum, 'knowledge is power', for knowledge may induce conceit, competition and conflict. Instead He always emphasises that 'Character is Power ' and, elaborating upon the basis of character, He quotes the Bhagavad Gîtâ (Ch. 12, verses 13-19):
"The man of character hates none, is kind and compassionate, free from egotism, treats pleasure and pain with equal unconcern, behaves ever with forbearance, is ever content, self-restrained and steady in his conviction of the unity of the universe. He has no feeling of harassment from the world nor does he in any way harass the world. He has no trace of anger, fear, anxiety or exultation, nor is he bound by the chains of infatuation or vengeance. He neither craves nor grieves, but passes unscathed through good repute and bad, welcoming both, heat and cold. He is satisfied with fortune, be it good or bad, and has no home which he is loath to leave. "
Seva has two invaluable consequences: the negation of the ego and the experience of kinship. Baba reminds us that even charity is cruelty unless one heart meets another in warm fraternity. The fragrance of love and the sweetness of sincerity must sanctify every act of Seva. Baba teaches us in the book 'Prasanthi Vahini ', how Dharma can lighten the travails of family life and how social life can become healthier and happier through the regulation of relationships according to Dharma. Masters and servants, elders and youngsters, teachers and students - all can benefit if Dharma prevails.
But the ancient academies of Dharma have now become hotbeds of greed and jealousy. "Beautiful groves and fields are becoming thorny jungles with no viable path, " says Baba. He lays down in some detail how parents can preserve and promote the culture of this land and save Dharma from pollution. He pleads for a revival of the status of the village temple as a reservoir of Dharma. He says, "It can, if maintained on ancient lines, circulate sanctity and vitality through every vein and nerve of the social organism. "
It is always richly rewarding to delve into the significance of the names that Baba sometimes gives to people or things. His residence at Puttaparthi, constructed in 1948-50, was named Prasanthi Nilayam (the Abode of Supreme Peace). All beings have to obtain it, sometime, somewhere; each has to build it for himself with His guidance and grace. Baba has cautioned the humanitarians and the philanthropists of this era that people today do not yearn for toys and trinkets which feed avid appetites; they yearn rather for the glory of God, peace on earth and goodwill among men. They need calm contentment rather than loud sensationalism. W.M. Dixon said in his Gifford Lectures, "In the new Garden of Eden, there will be good roads and water supply, unlimited picture houses, unstinted soft drinks, excellent sanitation, humane slaughtering, and the best of schools, wireless installations, free concerts and lectures for all. There will be no far horizon and invincible hopes. We shall cease to think of birth and death, of the Infinite, of God, and the sublime secrets of the universe. I am not much in love with these sixpenny Utopias." Baba has been insisting that those who draw five-year plans for dams, powerhouses, railway lines and factories must also provide adequate correctives for the devastation of traditional values which will follow the vast accession of pettiness and profit. People intoxicated with sudden prosperity and disheartened at the loss of traditions need Prasanthi and Prema to confer courage and equanimity.
Baba's book, 'Prasanthi Vahini ', gives us the key to the treasure-house of that peace which escapes understanding and defies logic, namely Prasanthi, which the Gîtâ calls the goal of human endeavor. Santhi means 'peace'; 'pra', the prefix, means 'larger, superior'. Prasanthi is Santhi unaffected by desire, greed, hatred or anger. It is not curtailed by adversity or multiplied by windfalls. Baba says that we must cultivate the three virtues of Viveka (intelligence), Vairagya (detachment) and Vichakshana (discrimination) in order to equip ourselves with Prasanthi. He prescribes the Viveka Chudamani, composed by Sankara, as the text which can develop in us these three virtues. Baba says,
"Like children playing with dolls you, too, call some beings elephants and others horses, some friends and others enemies, and spend your entire life in such make-believe. Once you realise that without the spirit they are all just the same inert substance, the notion of 'many' and the diversity of name and form, both disappear and there can be no liking or disliking any more... You laugh and weep, love and hate, live in joy, sorrow, anger and fascination, but all these varied reactions do not make the objective world less unreal. "
Vairagya gets a new meaning in 'Prasanthi Vahini '. Raga means 'attachment' and Vairagya comes when you realise that the stone to which you were attached is really God. The 'stoneness' is like a veil cast by your ignorance upon what is really of the same substance as you yourself. The Vairagya that results from this illumination is lasting and most sublime.
Eight Disciplines
Baba has also commented favourably in this book on the eight traditional stages of spiritual education, but He has given each of them wider and deeper meaning. The first discipline is y ama, which includes non-violence, honesty, celibacy and non-acceptance of gifts. Baba says, "This is the meaning usually given to this word. But I would say that Yama is really the giving up of attachment to the body and the senses."
The second discipline is n iyama, which is described in ra jayoga texts as 'physical purity, mental exaltation, austerity, steadfast study and the attitude of surrender to God.' But Baba explains it in the following manner: "n iyama is steady prema fixed on god, the Supreme Oversoul, regardless of time, place and circumstances. "
Asana, the next discipline, lays down the place, time and postures for the s adhaka engaged in meditation, to help him gain steadiness and stability. Baba has clarified it with a simple formula: "The best posture is u dasina " (the posture of full relaxation and complete detachment). In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali recommends s thira sukha a sanam (a steady, comfortable style of sitting). Baba writes, "I am telling you the same thing in other words, that the most effective asana is the one least affected by the external world, and udasina means 'unaffected.' "
About p ranayam Baba says, "In yoga, this step is explained as breath control. But the control of the vital airs is possible only for those who are aware that the world is an amalgam of truth and falsehood. The picture of the universe in the mind's eye will be like letters written long ago by lead pencils, now hazy, indistinct, indecipherable and giving impression half true and half false. Only a person aware of this peculiarity of creation can command the vital airs to obey his will. "
Baba also elaborates upon and clarifies the fifth stage called pratyahara, or the withdrawal of the senses of perception from the external world in order to free the mind for uninterrupted meditation on the inner one. How can this be done? The awareness that the external world is born of maya and sustained by m aya, will provide the motive force to withdraw the senses. According to Baba, no other achievement can accomplish this task. So here, too, the acquisition of wisdom is a vital prerequisite.
Baba continues,
"Patanjali declared that when the chittha is established in one thought, it is called dharana. I would say that dharana implies more than mere negation of the multiple activity of the chittha... Treat your chittha like a little child; caress it into good ways, leading it with tenderness. Gradually make it aware that all that is 'seen' is illusion, superimposition, make-believe. Remove its fears with love reprimands and focus its attention on the goal. "
Dhyana, the next stage, has a book for itself from the pen of Baba. Suffice it here to say that He reveals to us that dhyana is an uninterrupted dwelling of the consciousness within the consciousness itself. And the final stage of samadhi - the savikalpa, where there is but a trace of the knower, the to-be-known and the knowledge, and the nirvikalpa, where even this trace is effaced - is like the ocean, into which the consciousness finally merges. That is the goal where supreme peace reigns.
For the people of the world today, Prasanthi Nilayam has become a place where they can bask in the warmth of such a peace. On Christmas Day, when mankind celebrates the advent of the Son of God to establish 'peace on earth and goodwill among men', hundreds of Christians from overseas gather at Prasanthi Nilayam to share with fellow Christians from India the presence of Baba, who has come on that same divine mission and is engaged in transforming man into an instrument for fulfilling that mission. He has directed every unit of the Sathya Sai Seva organisation to close each session with the prayer, Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu (May happiness and prosperity reign everywhere). But He has also warned them,
"While repeating the prayer, if you do think ill of others or look down upon anyone, if you cannot tolerate difference of dress, language, faith or temperament, you can never promote peace. Your hearts have become pits of hatred, greed and jealousy. But from this day on, while your tongues pray for peace, let your hands be engaged in service and your hearts dwell in love. "
Prescriptions for Peace
"Today, quacks with new fangled ideas lay down rules for dhyana," says Baba. Each one has his own special prescription and claims that his system can confer more benefit than that of others. But none have themselves experienced its sweetness or sanctity. That is the real reason why dhyana has drawn on itself the cynical laughter of many. My intention is to instruct such people and guide them onto the right path. "
Baba goes on to reveal in these words the origin of His book, 'Dhyana Vahini ':
"Even the most potent drug will not cure when it is only extolled in elaborate phrases at the bedside of the patient. The drug must be taken in and allowed to work its way into the blood stream. Your reading what I write on dhyana will not make it easier. The mind is a mad pleasure-seeker, running after mirages seen through the inefficient and, therefore, deceptive senses of perception. The multifarious desires that infect the mind have to be quelled and the mind focussed on Ananda only. Of course, when the mind is enlightened that God is the highest Ananda, it will itself turn to God. When knowledge is accepted as the master and given charge of the reins, when the mind is denied the food that breeds depravity, when the senses are tamed by firmness and faith, dhyana will surely lead you to that Goal. "
Baba distinguishes between concentration, contemplation and meditation. Concentration is an unwavering determination in one's daily life, in the realm of the senses, the feelings and the intellect. Contemplation is achieved when the senses withdraw for some time and attachment to the objective world slackens. "When you have completely broken away from all attachment, you enter a state of meditation," says Baba.
Baba gives the guidelines for meditation and mind control in 'Dhyana Vahini '. He says that dhyana is a life-sustaining as dhanya (food). "The methods vary greatly," says Paul Brunton, who has tried quite a few, "but they generally consist of physical asceticism and worldly renunciation, together with attempts to induce a contemplative mood by disciplining, during fixed periods, the confused drift of thoughts and impressions which make up man's inner existence." Baba explains the choice of place, posture, timetable and the curriculum, but lays greater stress on the compassion of the Lord who responds to the prayer embodied as dhyana. Since God assumes, for the sake of the sadhaka, the name and form that he meditates on, Baba assures us that dhyana need never be a barter endeavor; the summit can be reached by perseverance, for He raises up to Himself the struggling and the exhausted.
Baba warns us against nine enemies that waylay the earnest sadhaka. Three of them are physical: adulterous urges, greed to possess things or gain exclusive love and the tendency to injure living beings; three are verbal: delight in causing panic by false alarm, speaking lies and spreading scandal; and three are mental: craving for what belongs to others, envy and cynicism. Baba directs that meditation on the form be accompanied by an unbroken absorption of the sweetness of the name by which that form is identified. When the form slips from attention, the name will soon bring it back; when the name drops from awareness, the form will restore it to the mind. "Thus, the constant presence of God in the consciousness is ensured," says Baba.
Blossoms of Bliss
Mention can be made here of a small book, 'Dialogues with the Divine', brought out by the Maharashtra Branch of the Prashanthi Vidwanmahasabha, an all-india academy of scholars and sadhakas founded by Baba. "This work has," as Baba writes, "blossomed out of the bliss that V.S. Page has earned and enjoyed in his inner-self," when he sat at the feet of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and questioned him with humility on various problems arising out of his studies and spiritual practices. Baba tells him,
"Nothing can be attained without ceaseless practice. So every moment you should remember God and be happy in the thought. Then only will you be able to attain peace. Are we not at peace when one thought ceases and another does not arise? You have to wait for that gap, be at one with that peace. Then that peace will become continuous and lasting.
"Thoughts ever rise and subside as ripples on the surface of water. You have to look at the mass of water, not merely at the ripples. Similarly, the Atman ever dwells in peace; but man fails to realise this, and remains ever absorbed in the vacillations of the mind. Nityavadhan (constant vigilance) is needed to ignore the waves and watch the water... Restlessness is but the rise and fall of the wave on the ocean that you are. "
The next Vahini to be published serially in the Sanathana Sarathi was the 'Jnana Vahini ' (Stream of Wisdom).
"Whenever the gross and even the subtle are transcended, when the intelligence is clarified, when the self is free from feelings, impulses and instincts, what remains in the consciousness is the true self only. The person, then, is one with the eternal truth, the one beyond everything. He becomes Brahman or Paramatman, " says Baba.
This awareness is the acme of ananda. In the Taittiriya Upanishad it is declared that "from ananda all this is born, through ananda all this lives, in ananda all this is merged, and in ananda all this rests." The greater the awareness of Paramatman the more the ananda. Baba summarises the truth in one sentence:
"Awareness is life," and then goes on to reveal, "all men are Divine like Myself; the only difference is that they are yet unaware of their divinity. They have come into this karmic prison through the karmas of many lives. I have taken to this mortal form out of My own free will. They are bound to the body while I am free of this bondage. "
Another of the Vahinis is the 'Upanishad Vahini', a synoptic review of the ten principal Upanishads, with a prologue and an epilogue on the rare text called the Brahmanubhava Upanishad. These Upanishads are esoteric and highly cryptic, but they elucidate the highest truths discernible to the intellect of man.
Baba stopped short of the fifth form in high school, when He was fourteen years of age. He did not read books or learn from any teacher. He is wisdom incarnate. He is poet, pundit, linguist, educationalist, artist, mystic - the best in each field. In His discourses He quotes freely from the Bible, the Koran, the poems of the Sufis, the dialogues of Socrates, the sayings of Johnson, the dicta of Herbert Spencer, Kant and Karl Marx, and from the myths and legends of ancient cultures. He quotes from the Upanishads and reveals new significances in the utterances of the sages, to the astonishment of the savants who have too long been content with arid dialectics they have treasured.
On fifteen evenings Baba held a gathering of over five thousand students and scholars at Brindavan spellbound by His elegant and eloquent analysis of the Vedic word, Brahman, which means, as Baba writes in the 'Jnana Vahini ', 'big, enlarged, gross, high', since it comes from the root 'brh '. He carefully untied the knots which pegged that portentous word to a cluster of irrelevancies and misconceptions. He traced the genealogy of the word from its roots to the tallest branch and the tiniest twig. He ransacked without compunction the nooks and corners of vedic texts to expose the excrescences that had gathered on that word as it rolled down the corridor of time. On subsequent evenings, for another fortnight, Baba spoke on another vedic word, Bharat. He elaborated upon the origin and migrations of the word among peoples and through the texts. Baba has declared more than once, that the revival of vedic studies and research, with the aim of reviving the practice of vedic ideals, is one of His plans for rehabilitating man.
The Flow of the Upanishad
Baba, therefore, decided on a small book on the Upanishads, in order to rivet the attention of the world to the efficacy of vedanta. As editor of the magazine which published serially the chapters of this book, I had an amazing experience every month for a whole year. After despatching the magazine on the 16th of the month, I would go to Him for the next part of the series. Announcing the name of the Upanishad Himself, He would ask me to wait for a while in His room and proceed along the veranda with a notebook and pen, towards the room where there stood a table with a chair by its side and nothing else besides. Once, it was the turn of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad to be summarised and simplified. It is the biggest and the profoundest of the ten. I am certain that Baba had never read it or consulted others who could talk on it. And there was no copy available anywhere within miles. But forty minutes after he moved out with the pen and the notebook as His sole possessions, I could descend the eighteen steps from His room with a ten-page dissertation on the truths this Upanishad enshrined! I peeped into the script as I walked towards the press and my eyes fell on the Telugu words which said, "The grandeur of the intellect of the Sage Yajnavalkya is impressively evident in this Upanishad." I told myself, "The grandeur of the omniscient teacher that Baba is, is now impressively evident to me."
Vedic literature is classified as ritualistic, consecrational and metaphysical (karma, upasana and jnana), and the Upanishads are grouped under the third category. But Baba says that each principal Upanishad deals with all the three and is, therefore, instructive for all types of sadhakas. Besides special rites described in most of them, the adoration of preceptors or deities is also recommended. Baba says, "The Upanishads enshrine the whisperings of God to man." About the ten on which Sankara and other scholar-saints have written detailed expositions, Baba says,
"Humanity stands to gain or fall by these ten... They are the synthesis of human thought, experience and aspiration at their highest. They confirm the possibility of human perfectibility. They declare and demonstrate that man can secure the awareness of God as His reality if only he casts off the veil of ignorance that he now delights to wear. "
Gita Retold
Baba's 'Geetha Vahini ' is the Bhagavad Gîtâ retold in order to save modern man from the myopia of egoistic materialism. He has declared that He has come to unify and clarify, fructify and fortify the holy aspirations of man. The doubts and delusions which torment us while we are engaged in the 'Battle of Kurukshetra ' with our outer and inner kith and kin, are treated here with love and sympathy by Sai Krishna, who also provides us with the answers.
I was once taken by an octogenarian pundit, a professor of sanskrit and a retired inspector of sanskrit schools in the state of Orissa, to the Gita Mandir that he had built at Puri. He had spent all his earnings on the construction of this memorial. The temple is in the form of a magnificent chariot, over twenty feet in height, complete with wheels and horses. He had explained to me, with a glint in his eye and a tremor in his voice, the symbols he had got carved around the chariot. The figures represented various steps in sadhana and stages of spiritual achievement. There was Hanuman on the flag of the pole fixed atop the chariot. And when we stood in front of the chariot. And looked up, I could see two mysteriously real statues seated upon it - the Lord, and His disciple who was just awakening from his self-inflicted stupor! It was a moment of thrill for me. I had not expected such a satisfying impact. I saw the disarming smile on the countenance of the Lord when He recognised the dawn of self-knowledge on the doubting and dismay-ridden mind of His disciple.
His hand extended lovingly towards Arjuna as if He wished to draw him closer to Himself, and on that hand I could see, resting upon His palm, the book of books - the 'Geetha Vahini ' of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba ! I saw Sai Krishna comforting, consoling and convincing Arjuna.
The pundit knew that Baba's 'Geetha Vahini ' was not a resume or a commentary or an abridgement. It was the voice of Krishna Himself, ringing over the clash of hate and greed and calling us into more worthwhile victories.
We are encouraged in 'Geetha Vahini' to offer Baba the prayer He puts into the heart of Arjuna: "As you are guiding this chariot, guide me also and show me the way," for He is in fact the charioteer installed in everybody. The Gîtâ as expounded by Baba, is a textbook of yoga and a guide for sadhana. It is a yogasastra and brahmavidya rolled into one. Through simile and story, sneer and laughter, banter and reprimand, question and counter-question, Baba pours into us the nectar of wisdom.
At Kurukshetra, Krishna said that the mind and its vagaries can be tamed by abhyasa (discipline) and vairagya (detachment). In 'Geetha Vahini ' Sai Krishna adds vichara (discriminative reasoning). Baba also analyses the concepts of kshetra, yajna, yoga and maya and sheds light on many corners which the lamps of the ancient masters did not illumine. The ideal of nishkama karma (selfless action) gets a glow of heroism when He interprets it as a conscious refusal of the fruits of activity, a courageous turning away from both triumph and failure.
There are many passages in 'Geetha Vahini ' of self-revelation by Baba, where it becomes difficult to determine who is speaking to us so intimately - Krishna or Sai. "How can I ever forget him who never forgets Me?" is the question. "Forgetting is a human frailty. Let me tell you: There is no need for yoga or tapas, or even jnana. I only ask you to fix your mind on Me, dedicate it to Me. That is all I demand, and all that you need to do."
This is the promise of grace which all Arjunas can hope to receive: Grace revives us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It revives us when we totter through the dark alleys of a meaningless and empty life. It revives us when our disgust for our own being, our indifference, our weakness, our hostility and our total lack of direction and composure have become intolerable. It revives us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when stale compulsions reign within us as they have done for decades, and when despair destroys all happiness and courage. Sometimes, at that moment, a wave of light breaks into our darkness, like the voice which Tillich describes in his book, 'The New Being' saying, 'You are accepted.'
'Geetha Vahini ' also condemns fanatic, blinkered gurus and pompous exponents of the Gîtâ, whose oratory sounds hollow because they do not themselves practise what the Gîtâ preaches.
The Gîtâ is the central gem in the crest-jewel of the great Indian epic, the Mahâbhârata. Sage Vyâsa wove this intricate tapestry of sublime heroism - physical, mental, moral and spiritual. He had also codified the vedic hymns and rituals. He prepared a magnificent garland of aphorisms summarising the basic philosophic truths. In spite of his encyclopaedic scholarship and great creative skill in the realm of thought, Vyâsa was afflicted by a deep, inner sadness. He had no sweetness or peace left in him. Nârada, the sage who propagated the validity of devotion as a means of achieving bliss, had advised Vyâsa to describe the glories of God who had incarnated as Krishna. The exposition that did emerge from this advice is called the Bhâgavata Purâna. And Baba has given it to us again in a sweeter and a more concise form, as 'Bhagavatha Vahini '.
Sentence of Death
Baba's 'Bhagavatha Vahini ' flows clear and cool, straight from the page to the heart. The book contains 338 pages, the first 270 and the last 90 of which thrill us by the narration of the Leelas of Krishna and of the dedicatory acts of those who received His grace, while about 40 pages are devoted to the vast regions mapped by Vyâsa under the compulsions of scholastic norms. As a result, 'Bhagavatha Vahini ' is not just a book; it is a tonic, a balm, a pilgrimage, a hallelujah, a clarion call, a beacon light. It is designed by Baba to loosen our bondage from the trivial and to tame the wildness of our minds. Vyâsa's son, Suka, had recited the Bhagavata for the benefit of King Parikshith, who had been cursed to die at the end of seven days. The recitation occupied those seven days. Since the king had filled his mind with this narrative of the glory of the Lord, he died with the name of God on his lips and the form of God before his eyes. Each one of us is under such a 'sentence of death', only we do not know when death will confront us. The 'Bhagavatha Vahini' can save all those who choose to be free from the fear of death and prepare them for passing beyond the realm of life, cheerfully and hopefully.
Remembering the Past
The latest of the Vahinis to emerge from Baba's pen is a lucid narrative of Rama's life, the 'Ramakatha Rasavahini '. Baba has announced that He is the same Rama come again to carry out His mission through His horde of followers. Drawn by His love, we have the same good fortune now to share in His task of remoulding man after His image.
While recounting the incidents in His life as Râma, Baba has included in His narrative certain details of dialogues and diversions not contemplated by Valmiki or any subsequent author. He mentions many additional events and encounters which fill the lacuna that have long disturbed admirers of the Ramâyana. The controversy over whether Râma is to be reckoned as an historic prince or as God incarnate, has been set to rest by Baba. 'Ramakatha Rasavahini ' is the very nectar of the epic.
Letters from Him
The Avatar's pen writes letters to persons anguished by doubt or defeated by disaster. These letters carry His love and mercy into their hearts and heal the wounds that fester there. Invariably, they feed and foster the springs of spiritual striving and help in the growth of love.
No occasion is too routine, too trite or too grand for Him to play His role as a teacher. Writing to a couple on the occasion of their marriage, He tells them,
"You are not just boy and girl coming together. You are Shiva-Sakthi, hyphenated, as truly as I am, the right and the left halves of the same body. May you be ever in the shade of joy and contentment; may you both float as one on the waves of ecstatic love; may you sway merrily on the flower-bedecked swing of faith held by the ropes of courage and confidence; may this boat which you are boarding this day, be loaded with happy comradeship and festivity, health and wholesomeness, to reach safe and smooth at the lotus feet of the Lord. Row it forward, both of you, with the oars of self-surrender and service, and let its sails be filled with the breeze of grace. "
In a letter to a devotee on his sixtieth birthday. He writes,
"Awaken! Sathya Sai who resides in your heart as your loving Mai (Mother), is heaping ananda on you. He is blessing you that you may have a long life, sound health, peace of mind, devotion to God, detachment from the transient objects of the world and success in the search for your own truth, your reality. May you, your children and your grandchildren be happy and prosperous; may you spread delight all around you; may you achieve the role of the witness content in the contemplation of the manifold leelas of God; may you ever be in good and godly company and may your hours be spent in the recapitulation of the glories of God. Here, hold forth your palm and receive this Amrita that I am offering, the amrita of love. No nectar can be sweeter and more invigorating. "
Sai Will Save You
To a ninety-year-old devotee fast sinking into the lap of the Lord, He wrote,
"Narasamma, accept My blessings. Sai is in your heart; He will not move away. Say 'Sai' with every breath; spend every moment repeating that name. Spend all your thoughts trying to picture Sai standing near you. Sai will save you. You will be merged in Sai. You will be in Sai eternally. "
It need not be said that a gentle calm descended upon the face of this blessed lady. Seconds before her death she chewed some vibhuti, miraculously dropped into her mouth by Sai, who gave her both darsan and prasad as promised.
His letters quicken the pulse, warm the heart and soothe the pain. A devotee wrote to Him that he had to sorrowfully forego his visit to Prasanthi Nilayam during the Dasara celebrations, because his mother was seriously ill. Some months earlier, the government had posted him as magistrate in a town only a few hundred miles from Prasanthi Nilayam, but he had prayed to Baba that he may be transferred even nearer. However, he was actually shunted to a place a thousand miles away on the Bay of Bengal, near the Orissa border! Baba wrote to him,
"I got your letter. I accept your prostrations. I am aware of the anguish which you communicate to Me. The anguish of separation from the One you really adore and love is the best sadhana. Be brisk in that sadhana. Continue yearning, more and more ardently. That is the best means of ensuring Sai's presence in your heart. I know you are happy only when you are in Sai. And, remember always, that your happiness is My daily food. My dear child! Why are you sad at not being able to serve Sai during the Dasara festival that is nearing fast. You are sorry that your mother's illness prevents you from coming to Me. Well, is not service to your mother, service rendered to Me? The mother who is called Ay-i, Thay-i and May-i is no other than Say-i. Serve her, and through that service, worship her. Why hesitate or doubt or grieve? All the time, ever with you as close and as alert as the eyelids to the eye, Sai is guarding you. He is where you are, accepting your day's puja, receiving your offerings and giving you the Ananda of grace. He will not forget you or give you up; He will never move out of your heart. Convey My blessings to your mother. Tell her on My behalf to fix her mind on the Atman as Râma, to the exclusion of every other thought. That is the strongest support, the most reliable refuge. That is the unshakeable, unseen base; the rest are but short-lived superstructures, mirages, castles in the air. Tell her to have the name always on the tongue and to meditate on God seated on the swing that oscillates in her heart. Tell her to picture God playing on the waves of Ananda inside her consciousness. That is the real sadhana which I teach every day. "Convey My blessings to your grihalakshmi (wife, also referred to as the goddess of prosperity and felicity presiding over the home). You can, very soon, be in the Presence and derive the Ananda you crave for. "
Sai - The Resident of Your Heart
He wrote to an old lady whose husband had died in an accident:
"Marriage binds two persons together as husband and wife. What were they to each other minutes before? The one would not have worried for the other if the wedding had not happened. Where was the son or the brother before conception? Life is an interlude between what was and what will be. During this interlude one should not lament over what cannot be helped or set right, but should seek God and take refuge in Him. Your husband lived a good life in the light of the Truth he had glimpsed. He did no wrong to anyone; he loved and served the suffering and the illiterate; he salvaged many families from penury and infamy; he helped many young people to go through college; many sick persons were saved by his timely donations; he was ever cheerful and spread cheer wherever he went; and, at last, God willed that he cast away the body that limited him. Of what use is it now to calculate what might have happened had he not gone to Madras that day?
"Your duty now is to sustain the greatness he earned, to follow the ideals that he had placed before himself. Your husband is here, in My presence, and he will be here forever as he had wished to be, even when alive. Swami will not allow him to be separated from His presence, he is now free from all bonds and boundaries.
"You are indeed fortunate that destiny drew you to him and gave you so many years of loving companionship with such a fine person. His thoughts were pure; there was no blemish of envy, hatred, or greed in him. So his place is with Me, forever. I am writing this letter to you in order to shower on you the cool rain of love. That rain will scotch the flames of grief that are now raging within you. Your husband is at Prasanthi Nilayam, in the presence of Sai, having attained that climax by his spiritual aspirations. "
The Gîtâ describes the Lord as the friend of all beings (sarva bhootha suhrd). These letters reveal that he is more reassuring than any father, more affectionate than any mother, more considerate than any kinsman and more just than any human authority. The blessing that Baba confers on lives dedicated to God who is enshrined within us is, invariably, everlasting life in Himself.
Words with Wings
Letter to Me
Let me take the liberty of allowing you to read one of the letters that Baba wrote to me (N. Kasturi) twenty-two years ago. It illustrates His omnipresence and His omniscience, as well as His boundless love - attributes that He has decided to demonstrate in this Avataric form in order to draw into the crucible of transformation the peoples of the world. I had returned to Bangalore after a long and arduous pilgrimage to the holy shrines on the Ganges, to Bodhgaya, Dakshineswar, Kamarpukur and Puri. I was urged to take my mother and wife on this pilgrimage by Baba Himself. He had blessed us the day we had set out, and assured us that we would have Him with us during our journey. He had said, "On three railway tickets, four shall travel." Baba, we knew, is the stowaway in every ark which breasts the deluge of delusion; He is the companion of all who progress on the road of pilgrimage.
When I had finished the assignment He had given me, I wrote to Him at Kodaikanal hill where He was staying at that time, expressing our gratitude and informing Him that all three of us had clear and tangible visions of Him at Rishikesh, Varanasi and Gaya. In the reply that I received, Baba wrote,
"Your letter reached Me at Kodaikanal in time, but since we came down to Madras that very day, I could not send you a reply. I reached Madras on the 25th, around midnight. (The letter is dated 26th.) I am happy that you have returned full of joy after visiting the holy places with your Mathru Devi (venerable mother). How can delay, disappointment or danger cross your path when Swami is ever with you? My name is not distinct from My form. The name recalls the form as soon as it is pronounced or heard. When the form is seen, the name comes into awareness that very moment. So, since the name is ever dancing on your tongue, the form, too, has to be before you and beside you. What need is there to mention this in your letter as a gift from Me? I have to manifest the form, whenever and wherever My name is remembered with faith or sung with devotion.
"You might say that those visions were boons of grace from Swami. No, I always say, 'Sadhana first, Sankalpa later'. That is the correct order. My Sankalpa or Will confers bliss only after assessing the depth of yearning in the devotee. Sadhana is the essential prerequisite. You were a professor and so you can understand this easily. You must have evaluated the written answers of your students. You evaluate and assign them marks only after careful scrutiny of what they have written, don't you? I, too, measure and weigh the sincerity and steadiness of the Sadhana you have imposed upon yourself and I frame My Sankalpa accordingly. Of course, many are not aware that the misery in which they find themselves can be negated by Sadhana.
"At Kodaikanal, thousands had gathered for the evening Bhajans. They were having darsan for the first time in their lives. It was their 'right' to get darsan that had brought Me to this hill station. For, as you know, I had not planned to come here. It all happened so suddenly.
'Your daughter was very upset the other night over her husband's health. His illness had taken a turn for the worse. I was there when your daughter wrote Me a letter about his condition. She posted it next morning to the Puttaparthi address. It has not reached Me yet, but I knew its contents even while it was being written. When Swami's grace is available in plenty, why fear? "
Dear Child!
Now I wish to quote from a letter written to a devotee who, due to desperate financial straits, had desired to flee the country and proceed to Malaysia, but later planned to commit suicide when his steamer ticket and travel documents were stolen by pickpockets inside the harbor area at Madras. This letter was written when Baba was twenty-three years of age:
"Pattabhi, dear devotee. Swami is writing to you; see, He is blessing you. Dear child, but what madness is this? What a letter you have written and left at home! It is foolish to be hasty. Think over your affairs calmly. Slow deliberation always reveals the true and the beneficial. Think of the crores of people the world over who are in conditions far worse than yours. Remember always, you have Me to guard you and guide you. How many of them have this fortune? Consider that. Are you the only victim of poverty and indebtedness? The step you are contemplating cannot give you rest or peace. It is not right. It is not manly to run away from responsibility. Listen to Me! Go back to your place, be bold and face the world with courage, for courage will set you free. It will conquer all obstacles. Give up your foolish plan to escape. "
And Pattabhi went back, recovered self-confidence and made a success of himself.
While with these individuals Baba is so gracious, He does not pardon or pass over indiscipline or ill-behavior among those He wants should lead exemplary lives. He wrote to a state president of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi:
"There is no use My writing about the Samithis. I have been saying that the next world should be gained by man's triumph over the fascinations and fancies of this world; but the members of the Organisation have given up all thought of future lives and the other world. They behave as if this life, this world, is the only one. To them, this seems the only measure, the only goal. For such persons, illumination can be only as faint as the glow-worm in the night. Though the stars twinkle in the sky and appear as tiny specks when compared in brightness to the moon, they are really much more brilliant. Each of them is a hundred suns rolled into one. But for the limited vision of ignorant onlookers, the star is a spark and the moon a huge source of light. Such men think of the future, because of its 'distance', as quite trivial, and of the present, due to its immediate 'proximity', as very important. They pay no attention to the stars but continue to be overawed by the moon. Civilisation today is concerned with the atom, but it ignores the Atman. "
Read this Aloud
When He is away from Prasanthi Nilayam for long, Baba often writes letters to be read aloud to the residents. Usually, they are sharp reminders of the need to respect the rules and regulation He has laid down for them.
"Blessings to all at the Mandir!" He writes. "Tell them all to fulfil their assigned duties and responsibilities. The daily schedule of puja, dhyana, bhajan, sankirtan and study should be followed punctually and with faithful devotion. People should move among one another with love and reverence. Of what benefit is sadhana if it is done without controlling jealousy, envy, pride, anger and malice? However long you may live in the ashram, these vices will undermine any merit you acquire. As the proof of the rain is in the dampness of the ground, so the proof of sadhana is in the subjugation of the senses. Give up all irrelevant and impertinent talk and activity. Cultivate self-examination and self-discovery and develop, through discipline, the inner eye. Make the best of this chance acquired as a result of your good actions in many previous lives. Of course, Swami's grace and love are always with you, but to earn them more and more, sadhana has to be done everyday, with greater and greater enthusiasm. The residents of Puttaparthi and Prasanthi Nilayam have to pave the way for mankind, so, they have to lead pious, humble and disciplined lives. "
Dear Boys
Now for some letters Bhagavân has written to be read out to the students of Sri Sathya Sai colleges. Since they have had the opportunity of a closer association with Baba, and more chances of listening to intimate expositions from Him on the unity at the base of this illusory multiplicity, these letters reveal the crux of Baba's teachings regarding the individual and the universal, the Atman and the Paramatman.
On Janmashtami (celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna) in 1974, He sent this letter to the college students at Brindavan. (It may be news to some, but it will not surprise His devotees to know that these letters are written by Baba Himself in English).
"Come, one and all," He writes, "and see in Me, yourself, for I see Myself in you all. You are My life, My breath, My soul. You are My forms, all. When I love you, I love Myself; when you love yourselves, you love Me. I have separated Myself from Myself, so that I may love Myself. My beloved ones, you are My Own Self. "
This is only further evidence supporting Baba's declaration that He created the universe of Himself, with one word, to become all this diversity (ekoham, bahusyam).
Let me quote from another letter where Baba indicates that He is the inner motivator: "My boys," He writes,
"the bird with you, the wings with Me; the foot with you, the path with Me; the eye with you, the form with Me; the thing with you, the dream with Me; the world with you, the heaven with Me - so are we bound, so are we free, so we begin and so we end, I in you and you in Me. "
Viewed superficially, it may appear epigrammatic effusion, but below the surface lies the treasure of truth: "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me" (John 14:11). Essentially man is but a fraction, a fragment, a fiction in search of a fact. God, alone, adds value to the zero by standing as an integer by its side.
Gustaf Stromberg from Mount Wilson writes, "The development of a living organism is in many ways like the building of a machine designed to perform a definite function in the future. A plan must first be made and this can only be made by an intelligent being, with his attention focussed not only on his past experience but also on the purpose for which the machine is constructed. Nature, apparently, has foresight and intelligence, and it is capable of highly organised activity. Since an impersonal nature cannot have such characteristics, we are led to the idea of a personal God." The letter of Baba mentioned above, is reminiscent of such a One.
The self and the Self
Now the letter unravelling the truth of each of us, addressed to the students on Janmashtami, Lord Krishna's birthday:
Dear boys,
In the world of today, so full of people who are selfish, unloving and unloved, the brand of atheism known as 'self-love' has spread to the extent of almost becoming a universal religion.
What is the Self? It is the Self that says 'not I', for if it says 'I', then it is the unreal self. The real Self is selfless, and has no thought either of or for itself. It is the Self that has now forgotten itself, because somehow, it can visualise itself only in others. It is the Self that loves selflessly, because pure love is but selfless affection. It is the Self that seeks the truth with selfless determination, because truth is selfless wisdom. It is the Self that is quiet, because in silence lies cessation from all worldliness. It is the Self in wordless meditation, because wordless meditation is the conquest of the mind through union with the Divine. It is the Self that does not judge, but evaluates. It does not compare, seek security, or even see itself. It is the Self that has completely absorbed itself and yet, in a strange and mystical fashion, it is more itself, more complete and more real than it has ever been. This is the real Self.
God is love, and love is selflessness. Selflessness is the abolition of all sense of the ego and separativeness, of all spurious identification with the isolationist life of that counterfeit thing called 'self'; self is separativeness, and separativeness is the denial of wholeness, holiness, God.
The denial of God is known as atheism. As can now be understood, atheism is not the denial of this or that religion or of this or that concept of God. It is rather the denial of a life of love, which is the nature of God, and the assertion of the life of the egoistic self. In short, real atheism is the denial of love and the assertion of selfishness.
The Godward process called 'self-sacrifice' is, in its essence, love. For God is love, and love alone can lead to Him. As the most godly act is one of love, the most godless act is one of hate.
But hate, which is separativeness, can arise only when there is selfishness. Thus it comes to pass, that the most godless, loveless, atheistic act, is the act of selfishness.
Love must be totally selfless to be Godward, to be Divine. Its criterion must be, 'the Beloved, first'; its technique must be 'your happiness before mine'. The way to happiness is to forget oneself and to remember God, Sai Krishna.
With Blessings and Love, Sri Sathya Sai
His Two Eyes
There is a mysterious episode concerning an Indian couple who live in America. The husband, Dr. Y.S. Thathachari, is a dedicated biophysicist who has worked for some years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after that at Stanford University and the University of California. As early as 1960 he suffered, as the doctors suspected, from rheumatoid arthritis. But the experts who examined him at Stanford - after dozens of X-rays, brain scans with radioactive mercury, a surgical excision, chemical tests and a biopsy of the scalp lesions (he had developed several bumps on the scalp) - declared that he had "aggressively malignant and metastasising tumors in the skull, the neck, the ribs and the hips, the cancer having the features of both ewings and retiaulum cell sarcoma." It was a death sentence enveloped in medical abracadabra! In a letter to me on this judgement, Thathachari wrote, "Thus after delivering blow after blow, the surgeon told me, 'Sir, miracles do happen. We hope such a miracle would happen to you.' " That was in 1962. The couple returned home to Madras to be in the midst of relatives, while trying out palliative therapies.
In January 1964, doctors at Madras discovered widespread destruction in the pelvic bones. Soon they pronounced that the liver was affected by the cancer. Let Thathachari complete the account of what transpired:
"In 1965, I felt like seeking the blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sri Sathya Sai Baba, following a chance reference by a friend. Baba blessed me and my wife and directed us to go back to Stanford, continuing the endoxan, if I wished to do so. In 1970, when I approached Him again, He asked me to discontinue all drugs and dietary supplements. He gave me an assurance of cure and dispelled that ever-present dread of recurrence." Thathachari is now pursuing his teaching assignment and research projects in America with undiminished zeal, thanks to the 'miracle' that happened. When asked how he brought about this most wondrous miracle that defied all medical predictions, Baba replied,
"All I did was to invest him with confidence and willpower to cure himself. It is My abounding love reciprocated by the intensity of the devotee's own faith, that finally produced the desired result. "
About three years ago Baba wrote to them,
"My dears! I know that though your bodies are far, far away, your thoughts are with Sai. That awareness and attachment is sufficient to keep Me near. Thoughts have no walls or boundaries; they can reach Me across the oceans. There is no one without Me; I am with and within every one.
"When only the body is near but the thoughts are afar, the situation is like frogs leaping around a lotus flower. But bees know of the ambrosia that the lotus is ready to give; they yearn to partake of its sweetness and ever hasten towards it. Bangaroo! (a word meaning 'gold', which is applied to a child who is charming and well-behaved.) You have Swami's grace in plenty. Where the Name is, there is the Form.
"Busy yourselves with the duties which are entrusted to you, in good spirit and fine health. Sai is ever by your side. He is the charioteer of the vehicle of your life. The ship of life, however heavily loaded with the cargo of joys and sorrows, can certainly arrive at the harbor of self-realisation, if it is propelled by holy mental energy. Repetition of the Name is the 'dug-dug-dug' of the pistons; the steering wheel is love; the anchor is faith. Continue the journey in confidence. Sai is always guarding you from harm and pain. You both are like His two eyes. Swami is constantly showering His compassion on you. He counsels you from within and corrects you. On your part, be immersed in the duties entrusted to you; remember, that is Swami's work. When you discharge your duties, convinced that the work is Mine, health and happiness will be added unto you. "
When a devotee, R. Lal, telegraphed from Bombay that he had a severe heart attack, Baba wrote to him, "It is not in any way connected with your heart. Do not exaggerate the small malfunction. Shiva-Shakthi is in your heart; that Shiva-Shakthi will not permit any infirmity or injury to affect it. Be happy. This day, Mother Sai is conferring on you the boon of Her love. That will grant you health, joy, peace, courage and contentment."
This is how He consoled a stricken Hindu wife:
"Mother, the news that your husband attained merger with the Divine came to you all of a sudden. It is quite natural that you were shocked at the accident which killed him, and feel miserably lonely and deserted. The daughters of Mother India do revere their husbands as their all, and are ever concerned about their health, honor and peace of mind. Yet one should not forget that the body is composite of diverse elements. It must disintegrate into those elements, however much one might guard it or lay claim over it. It is a feeble contraption, prone easily to be put out of action. A slip, a stumble, a hit, a sneeze, a little carelessness or a moment of recklessness, is enough to damage or destroy it. No one can avoid death, even if one manages to lengthen one's life by avoiding all these. Even avatars take birth resolving to die some day. When birth occurs, death has to follow. To grieve over death, which is an inevitable and inescapable consequence of birth, is not a sign of wisdom. "
About ten years ago, He wrote a letter to a devotee in Gujarat:
"Two fundamental messages ringing through Indian culture down the centuries are: 'Revere the mother as Divine. Revere the father as Divine.' These are sacred commands. When the parents are by-passed and hurt by disobedience, I am sure I, too, will soon be by-passed and disobeyed. When your son treats you as non-existent, how can he claim to revere Me? That claim is patently false.
"The Lord does not demand external grandeur; He examines only whether internal purity exists. A life lived badly is like a body without life. The body, in Sanskrit, is called Deha, meaning 'that which has to be consigned to flames'. A body belonging to a person who does not strive for inner purity can live only for that consummation, to justify that appellation. It serves no other purpose, and it cannot be blessed by the grace of the Lord."
"The value of education has to be measured in terms of the virtue it implants, because virtue, alone, ensures peace and joy. Without it a man is as good as dead, or even worse. Education must endow man with a sharp, discriminative capacity. But for your son, it is an ugly and vulgar acquisition. (sathya, dharma, santhi and prema are the cardinal virtues.) Sathya is what I teach; Dharma is the way I live; Santhi is the mark of My personality; Prema is My very nature. "
Sathya is what I teach; Dharma is the way I live; Santhi is the mark of My personality; Prema is My very nature.
The Will and the Way
Here are two more messages sent to the Hostel boys:
  1. 'Where there is a will there is a way' is absolutely true. At first the will is your own. It has to be strengthened by the assent of God; but until you convert it into the almighty will of God, you seem to be playing a particular game which you do not desire to give up. You can always change the game, if you so wish. You are not weak and helpless. All strength and power is within you. God-vision is yours the instant you will it with concentration. But you simply don't choose to do so.
    "Sai is not mocking, He is perfectly earnest. He is giving expression to the truths gathered from the depths of experience. 'trust in, and submission to the supreme will in all circumstances', means 'the vision of truth' or 'realisation of the eternal principle of all creation'. 'If God Wills' means, 'if you assert your own all-powerful will'. The real solution, therefore, is to awaken the inherent power and splendor of your soul. Do it, boys! You are verily the immortal truth, the great changeless reality. May victory ever be yours. With blessings, Baba."
  2. "Boys, through the awareness of the divine, alone, can we bring true peace to the world. There is no doubt that considerable effort is being made by great leaders of the world to bring about peace and harmony on the material plane. But Sai does not see any sign of their success.
    "The only way left for us is to turn our minds within ourselves and to find out that the true and everlasting basis, that supreme source from which, alone, we can bring true happiness and peace to the world. That basis is God, who is, in fact, dwelling in the hearts of every one of us. He is the universal spirit.
    "Every one of you is an embodiment of the divinity. You are Sath-Chith-Ananda, but have forgotten this truth. Realise it now. Meditate on the reality until your mind dissolves and you stand revealed as truth itself, and enjoy, as Sai has been enjoying, that eternal bliss. With blessings, Baba."
He Teaches through Letters
Pundit Veerabhadra Sarma is a renowned Vedic scholar. He can expound the sacred scriptures and hold vast gatherings spellbound for hours by the clarity, simplicity and sincerity of his Telugu oratory. He is also a leading minstrel of the popular Burrakatha musical recitals, and has composed a Sanskrit 'Sai Geetha ' and 'Puja Vidhana' on classical lines. He was chosen to be a member of the party that undertook the pilgrimage to Badrinath when Bhagavân decided to bless that holy Himalayan shrine.
In spite of these unique distinctions, his material poverty was so acute that one day he blamed Baba for 'neglecting him and heaping upon him misery after misery.' His wife, who could not bear this sacrilege, offered to write to Baba about the situation. She was certain that His blessings would clear the sky. But Sarma was adamant. 'No prayer should proceed from either of us to Baba, who has mercilessly betrayed our trust," he insisted. This was on 20th January 1962, at Kakinada, eight hundred miles from Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagavân, of course, sensed his pique and was aware of his obstinacy. So he wrote Sarma a letter Himself, which reached him on 23rd January 1962. Sarma revealed to me its contents. The letter is a miniature Gîtâ which reveals the love that Baba showers upon those who are misguided and move away from His fold, the courage He instils by revealing to the desperate their own inner treasure of strength and the course He lays down for their liberation from the entanglement of ignorance.
It reads thus:
"Dear child Veerabhadram! You are Bhadram (secure, happy, full of confidence and joy), aren't you? You might ask, 'What kind of Bhadram is this? Of course, that question is natural. When life flows clear and smooth with no hurdles to cross, to feel that it is so because of oneself and to forget God, and when that flow encounters obstacles and obstructions at every turn, to lament and lose heart - are these not signs of the intellectual frailty inherent in man? You, too, are human, dear Bhadram, therefore it is no wonder that you are overcome by depression and despair when troubles bother and obstruct you at every step.
"Though the life of man is basically a manifestation of immortality and an unbroken stream of ananda, he strays away from the awareness of the atman, the spring of that ananda, slavishly yielding to the vagaries of the mind, the intellect and the ego. Sinking and floating, rising and falling on the turbid waves of the sea of delusion, he is tossed between anxiety and calm, grief and joy, pain and pleasure. He is afflicted with the evanescence of the world and the unreality of his desires.
"Why are you confounded and confused by this false panorama? Remember, you are thereby despising and denying your own atmic identity. You have stored in your brain the Vedas, the Sastras, the Purânas, the Ithihasas and the Upanishads, but you behave like a dull boor. You bewail your lot and weep at your plight as if you had no resources to fall back upon. This attitude is not worthy of the learning you have accumulated. You have to draw strength and courage therefrom and further the blossoming of holy, heartening thoughts.
"Should this one single trouble - want of money - make you stoop in weakness and fear? You have with you the name which is the Dhanavanthri (Divine Physician) for all the ills and anxieties of man. Instead of letting that Name dance joyously on your tongue, why are you paying so much attention to what you call loss, grief and worry?"
"You are the repository of so many branches of scriptural scholarship, but you have neither realised their value nor attempted to experience the joy they can give you. This must be your prime goal. Instead, you are spending your days in the mere satisfaction of having acquired this knowledge, as if fluent oratory were the best purpose to which you could devote your learning. The result is that you are led into the baseless belief of being attacked by anxieties and adversities."
"Really speaking, these are all objective phenomena, passing clouds that are but a feature of the external nature. The ananda that the atman can confer on you cannot be lessened or hindered in the least. Have firm faith in this truth. Don't you know, bangaroo, the freedom, the delight and the tranquillity you can derive by contemplation of the ananda that the unbroken awareness of the atman can endow you with? Knowing this, even if you are confronted by the seemingly most insurmountable problem, how can you get entangled with or be affected by circumstances and phenomena in the objective world?"
"To preach to others is quite easy, but to put even a fraction of what is preached into actual practice and experience the felicity promised, is extremely difficult. You have been announcing in ringing tones that 'Swami knows everything; Swami is the unitive embodiment of all the names and forms by which man has adored God down the ages. But when problems overwhelm you, you forget to establish these truths in your own life."
"Don't I know? The other day, when you had been reduced to plead with your father for help and when you were about to proceed to where he resides, your wife suggested, 'we shall write to Swami about our troubles and losses', let Me ask why you told her, 'I won't allow this; you should not write'? I shall even tell you the reason. You thought she might inform Me about various other details. Don't I know? Can I know this only if she writes to Me? Foolish bangaroo!"
"Don't I know that you went to Ramachandrapuram to give a series of talks on the Gîtâ and returned with a minus balance? The Gîtâ discourses did not receive the response you expected because your talk was pervaded and polluted by the Burrakatha style that has long struck root in you. It cannot be easily overcome. Bear with it patiently and, with steady effort, be rid of it. If you desire that your Gîtâ lectures be appreciated, some improvements are called for. Without effecting them, why do you moan, be gloomy and dejected, blaming your scholarship and your experience as mere useless loads.
"Well, for Me, who is fostering all these worlds, fostering you and your family is no burden. I am giving you these series of troubles in order to teach you some lessons. Study is not all important. Practising what you have learnt is very necessary. My purpose is to bring to your notice this facet of the process of learning."
"Let Me tell you this. He who plants a sapling cannot but water it; if he had no will to water it, he would not have planted it at all. This is the identifying principle of the jiva and the atman, the individual and the universal, man and god. You had written and published that the name of Swami is dancing and the form of Swami is being adored in home after home. And by this little vision, you were filled with ananda. But know now, that the name of Sai will arouse ecstatic delight filling the entire world, nay, every inch of it. People now sing 'All is Sai-full, this world is Baba-full.' This fullness will be realised, without doubt. Be bold; be in bliss; take up the burden of the duties assigned to you. Seek realisation through the four stages leading man to God - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha."
"When you resolve to progress on these lines, the Lord of Parthi will Himself be available to you to lift you and liberate you. Therefore, bangaroo, seek and gain your own motivating principle. I will never give you up. I will not forget you, no, never."
"You have been maligning the rich; give up this erroneous habit. Not only the rich but you should not dishonor any one in any way. If they are bloated in their ego, they will suffer. How can it affect you? Remember, Sai resides in all; so maligning another means maligning Sai Himself."
"Convey my blessings to your wife and children. I have written this long letter out of the compassion and love that I bear towards you. Be ever in joy; be ever intent on practice and experience. The Resident of your heart, Sai."
Telegraphic Words
Bhagavân conveys a world of meaning, an ocean of grace or a Gîtâ of wisdom, even through a short telegram. When Walter Cowan, whom He had revived from death, passed away at last, nineteen months after his 'coming back', Baba's telegram to his wife, Elsie, from Prasanthi Nilayam declared, "Walter arrived here in good shape" ! Dwell on that sentence for a while. Walter had uttered, "Baba! Baba!" just before he passed away, for he was filled with years of grateful devotion. And soon after, Baba announced that Walter's soul had arrived. Similarly, when Narayana Bhat of Alike was killed in a motor accident, Baba had sent a message to his mother which read, "Narayana Bhat has merged in Me."
Sai Baba autographs books, pictures and photographs, while walking between the rows of seated devotees and visitors. Very often He simply writes His name as we know it; at other times, He may write 'Blessings ' or 'Blessings with Love '. Once, when someone reached out with a photograph of His having a dark background to be autographed, He borrowed a pen and wrote with it in a white script, the blue-black ink in the pen obligingly turning white. Thus, the method, style and content of His message - all are uniquely elevating.
Words Do His Will
Baba's words are known to cure not only every type of disease or ailment, but also to effect a miraculous change of attitude towards truth in the most incorrigible persons.
Sri M.K. Mishra, a mining engineer from Morena district in Madhya Pradesh, writes,
"Some of the northern districts of this state - Bhind, Morena, Gwalior, Shivpuri and Datia - and some adjoining districts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, were infested with dacoits since the dawn of India's independence. The governments of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan tried their utmost to decimate them, but in vain. The dacoits were virtually in control of these districts. In 1960, Acharya Vinobha Bhave toured this region in order to persuade the dacoits to give up their life of crime. He was able to persuade a few of them to surrender. In October 1971, Madho Singh, who was the leader of the most prominent gang, approached Sri Jaya Prakash Narain to persuade him to take up the unfinished work of Acharya Vinobha Bhave. With the help of the Sarvodaya workers, J.P. contacted various gangs of dacoits. Ultimately his efforts bore fruit and about four hundred dacoits agreed to surrender.
"One problem that was agitating the minds of the dacoits as well as the sarvodays leaders, was whether the dacoits should make an open confession of their crimes. Some sarvodaya leaders advised the dacoits to contest the criminal cases started against them in court. The dacoits were also of the same view."
"On 23rd August 1972, Srimati Prabhavati asked Sri Hem Dev Sharma, secretary of the shanti mission in Gwalior, to bring a copy of the Hindi translation of Part II of 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram ', written by professor Kasturi. Sri Hem Dev Sharma's neighbor was a devotee of Baba, so he was able to procure the book from her. On that day, J.P. addressed the dacoits and read out the story of Kalpagiri as narrated in chapter six ['with wounded wings'] of this book. Bhagavân's advice to Kalpagiri, who had committed heinous murders and who was roaming about disguised as a sannyasi, to go to the police to make a clean-breast confession and undergo cheerfully the punishment he may be awarded, was listened to by the hard-boiled dacoits. It touched their hearts deeply, and convinced them that their real salvation lay not in refuting their misdeeds or trying to secure acquittals from law courts but in confessing them humbly in a spirit of repentance."
Selected Excerpts From This Discourse
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