WHO IS SAI BABA? by Ram Das Awle
((Giles' note - Some of this may seem over the top. I have deliberately left the text alone. While I have personally experienced plenty of 'impossibly' lucky things, I have not been in Baba's presence nor experienced any of the astonishing things recounted here. So for all I know Awle is understating these experiences. It strikes me forcibly, however, that even if ten percent is true, everything Baba himself says is worth listening to!; and, heaven help us, acting upon!))
[Copyright 2001. Dated August 2001. This material may be downloaded, reproduced and distributed freely, as long as the source is clearly attributed. It is from http://www.saibaba-aclearview.com/contents2.html ]
Who is Baba? Testimony of the Modern Day Masters
One of the greatest Saints of this century was a woman named Anandamoyi Ma. (The name translates as 'Bliss-permeated Mother.' There's a photo of her, standing next to Paramahansa Yogananda, in Autobiography of a Yogi.) She was so pure and filled with God that she was widely considered to be a Divine Incarnation herself: there seemed to be nothing in her but God, and her words were Truth itself. According to one of her closest Western devotees, over the years she had often been asked, "Who is this Sathya Sai Baba we keep hearing about?" But for many years she never gave an answer. In the last year of her life, however, the question came up again, and this time she gave the following response: "This body will speak on this question only once; don't ask again. Sathya Sai Baba is the most powerful incarnation of God ever to come to the Earth. And there won't be another at His level for another sixty centuries."
That amazing testimony was recently strengthened for me when I went to one of Anandamoyi Ma's ashrams in the Himalayas. When I shared the preceding quote with a Swami there7, he said that Anandamoyi Ma had then added, "It's no wonder you keep hearing about Sai Baba. He is the Avatar of this Yuga!" (Avatar means Incarnation of God; a Yuga is an era lasting many thousands of years.)
Other Saints have given similar testimony. Shortly before he left his physical body behind, Paramahansa Yogananda was approached by one of his close American disciples, a woman. "Master," she said, "I know you are planning on leaving your body. You must take me with you! You are my God!" "Nonsense," replied Yogananda. "God is God; I am your Guru." "But Master, if you leave without me, I will commit suicide!" "Enough of that foolishness! God Himself is now incarnate on Earth, in South India. His name is Sai Baba. When I leave you are going to live with Him." (His prediction proved correct; after Yogananda's death, that devotee spent the rest of her life at Sai Baba's ashram.)8
Mata Amritanandamayi (also known as Ammachi), Herself considered to be an incarnation of the Divine Mother, was once asked, "Who is Sai Baba?" She replied, "Avatar. Perfect from birth."
On the day after Sai Baba's birth (November 23, 1926), Sri Aurobindo, another great Saint of this century, broke a long period of silence to announce, "Twenty-fourth November, 1926, was the descent of Krishna into the physical. A power infallible shall lead the thought, in earthly hearts kindle the Immortal's Fire, even the multitude shall hear the voice!"10 It seems obvious at this point that his announcement of Krishna's physical re-embodiment was referring to the birth of Sathya Sai Baba. Mother Krishnabai, the Self-Realized disciple of Swami Ramdas (the great Saint from Kerala), told her devotees, "Sai Baba is an Avatar, a full incarnation of Krishna. He is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva together in one form!" She recommended they spend as much time in His presence as possible.11
Swami Satchidananda, the Enlightened sage who currently runs Anandashram in Kerala, was recently asked about the allegations against Sai Baba. He replied, "Forget about it. He is God!"
Karunamayi (also known as Vijayeshwari Devi, considered by many to be a living incarnation of the Goddess Sarasvati) recently told one of her close devotees, "Sai Baba and Amma [meaning herself] are both watching over you." Apparently she also knows who Baba is!
Yogi Ramsuratkumar made it clear on numerous occasions that Sai Baba is an incarnation of God. He often asked visitors from Baba's ashram, "You've left God to see this beggar?"13 (Of course, that "beggar" was himself merged in the all-pervading Consciousness; the beauty of his attainment was matched only by his humility.)
Shiva Balayogi, another of the great Gurus of the last century, was once asked about Sai Baba. He replied, "Sathya Sai Baba is an Avatar."
Master El Moya and Master Kuthumi, two of the great Ascended Masters behind the founding of the Theosophical Movement, also declared Sai Baba to be an Avatar. According to author Howard Murphet, in the book "The Light Will Set You Free" these Masters have stated, "Avatar Sai Baba is carrying the Divine consciousness in the world today."
Maitreya, the mysterious Master who has been miraculously appearing before people in various places around the globe throughout the last two decades, has said (through his spokesman, Benjamin Creme) that He (Maitreya) is the planetary Avatar, while Sai Baba is the Universal Avatar.16
Testimony from Gopalakrishna Baba, Devi Amma, "Little Heart" and Vasantha Sai appears later in the website.
As mentioned in Part 1, there is a prophecy written by Mohammed which clearly predicts the coming of Sathya Sai Baba. In God Descends to Earth, Sanjay Kant states: According to an article published in "Two World's" Magazine of London, an Iranian writer was irresistibly drawn to a huge volume in Tehran. This book, called The Ocean of Light, is in 25 volumes. It is claimed to be the collection of the discourses of Prophet Mohammed. Volume 13 of these discourses is called "Mehedi Moud" in Arabic, meaning "The Great Teacher that was promised."17
The detailed description Mohammed gives of this "Great Teacher" and "Master of the World" fits Sathya Sai Baba perfectly: "His hair will be profuse. There will be a gap between His front teeth. He will have a mole on his left cheek. He will not have a beard but will be clean shaven. His clothing will be like a flame." (Sai Baba wears orange.) "His body will be small." (Sai Baba is barely five feet tall.) "His legs and feet will be like those of a young girl." (Baba's feet are unusually small.) "He will give gifts that are light in weight." (Baba most frequently gives rings, pendants and watches.) "He will go around among his devotees and touch their heads with his hand. Many of His devotees will have a dot on their forehead. They will gather under a large tree." (For many years in His Whitefield ashram, Baba gave darshan under a large tree.) "So as not to be deceived, you should know that the Master of the World will bring things out of His body, through His mouth." (For many years - including the last three - on the holy day of Maha Shivaratri, Sai Baba has brought forth out of His mouth a 'Shiva Linam', an egg-sized sacred stone which had formed within His body.) "All the teachings of all religions of the world will be in his heart from birth. All the science and knowledge of the world from the beginning of time will be in his heart." (In interviews with scientists and professors over the years, Baba has amply demonstrated full mastery of all fields of knowledge.) "All things which you will ask of God, He (the Master of the World) will give you. All the treasures are under his feet. Every eye that sees him will be happy, not only humans but disembodied souls. He will live 95 years." (Sai Baba has said that His current incarnation will last for 95 years; this means he will leave his present body around 2020 A.D.) "In the last 20 years of his life he will be the 'King of the whole world', but at that time only two-thirds of the people of the world will believe in him."18 (Sai Baba has literally millions of devotees worldwide. At His 70th birthday party, over three million people came to celebrate.)
I recently met an Iranian man who told me that he has studied The Ocean of Light in detail, in the original, and assured me that the preceding quotes are indeed in the prophecy (along with others which point directly to Sai Baba). After years of study, he is personally certain that the prophecy refers only to Sathya Sai Baba.
Baba Takes Venkateshwara's Place
I was recently a partial witness to an incident which provides another powerful clue to Baba's identity. One of the most famous shrines in India is the hilltop temple to Lord Venkateshwara (a form of Vishnu), in Tirupathi, Tamil Nadu. Venkateshwara is considered by many Hindus to be the Supreme Lord, and the idol in this temple is known all over India for the powerful blessings it bestows. As with many of the sub-sects in Hinduism, there is an understandable quality of exclusivity in the devotees of that shrine, especially among the priests who perform the worship; for generations their families have been single-mindedly devoted to Venkateshwara alone. One day in late November, 1998, the priests were performing a special pada puja (foot worship) ceremony to the Venkateshwara idol, when suddenly the idol's feet were transformed before their eyes into the feet of a living man. Looking up, they beheld, in place of the Venkateshwara idol, the living form of Sathya Sai Baba. "If you want full darshan," He told them, "come to Whitefield next week!" Baba then disappeared, leaving Venkateshwara in His place.
I was in Sai Baba's Whitefield Ashram on December 6th, 1998, the day the priests from Tirupathi, dozens of them, arrived to receive the full darshan of the living God who had appeared before them in their shrine. (To help the Western reader understand the dynamics of the event, it might be a bit like a group of Catholic Bishops coming to bow before a Protestant, and acknowledging that Christ was incarnate in that form...)
Hundreds of Thousands of Angels
And then there's the experience I had at Baba's ashram in 1996. In the middle of His Christmas discourse, Baba waved His hand and materialized a small gold-covered book - bringing a gasp of amazement from the crowd of 50,000, me among them! (I was seated very close to Baba - and was certain it was a genuine miracle.) That night at around 9 o'clock I heard that Baba had announced earlier that angels would be flying above the ashram that evening. I looked into the sky, but didn't see anything unusual, so guessed I'd missed the show. However, a couple of nights later, two friends came running up to me on the street and said, "Ram Das, the angels are back! Come on, you've got to see them!" So I followed them up to a rooftop, away from the lights of the ashram, lay down and looked up... And in the sky above us was one of the most astonishing sights I've ever seen: hundreds of thousands of self-luminous beings flying through the air, zipping around at great speed in what seemed to be an ecstatic dance of joy! They looked a little like shooting stars - yet they were closer to the Earth, and moving not in straight lines (as asteroids, or any similar phenomena would be) but in curves and curlicues. Considering Baba's earlier announcement, I didn't see any reason to doubt that these glowing beings were indeed angels, celestial helpers in His world mission: no other phenomena I knew of could explain the sight. Sometimes two would pair up for a while as they zipped about, and they seemed to be pouring forth from some invisible gate above the ashram, where I guessed they had maybe just received Baba's darshan and instructions for their work... The event had an unquestionably supernatural exuberance about it that left all three of us gasping in amazement. It was probably the most inspiring sight I've ever witnessed, ringing out more clearly than a thousand manifested rings the divine identity of Sathya Sai Baba. Why would so many angels congregate in such an extraordinary way, other than to have the darshan of God?
The Amrit-Oozing Amulets In an orphanage in South India, there is an ongoing miracle pertaining to two thumb-nail sized slivers of porcelain, one bearing the likeness of Sathya Sai Baba, the second depicting Shirdi Sai Baba. Given to the manager of the orphanage by Sai Baba over twenty years ago, they have been miraculously oozing amrit (a honey-like jasmine nectar) ever since. I decided to visit the place, and see the famous miracle for myself. The manager of the orphanage scooped one of the amulets out of a dish with a spoon, and put it in the palm of my right hand. It was nothing but a thin piece of porcelain with Baba's face painted on it - there was no place for any mechanism to hide. I watched like a hawk as a few drops of amrit trickled from the amulet into my palm - but this meant nothing, it had just been sitting in a dish of amrit. Yet amrit continued trickling from it until my palm was full, and with the spoon, the manager scooped the amrit from that hand and poured it into my left palm. As amrit continued to trickle from the amulet over a period of several minutes, he repeated this procedure four times, until finally my left hand was overflowing with amrit - and the amrit was still trickling into my right palm! Even the most adamant skeptic, witnessing what I saw that day, would have to admit it was a miracle. (I tasted the nectar: it's definitely not of this world!)
A Lingam, Specially Delivered
From the Amarnath Cave A couple of years ago Baba gave me a special gift, in a highly unusual way; I think you'll agree the story lends weight to my assertion of Baba's divinity. A man named Rouf (pronounced "Roof"), who owns one of the shops near Baba's ashram, saw me on the street one day and told me he'd had a "Baba dream" about me, and that he had something to give me. I was a bit put off, but several weeks later finally paid him a visit, and as we sipped sweet tea in his shop, he told me his story: "Last summer I went on a pilgrimage to some holy places up North. Hardwar, Rishikesh, Kashmir, and then the Amarnath Cave, in Himalayas. It's closed eight months a year from snow, no way to get in. And in this cave, you've heard of it? There's this naturally formed Lingam, a huge one, made of ice. [A Lingam is an elliptical symbol of the Supreme Being, used in the worship of Lord Shiva.] Shiva and Parvati actually lived in this cave - it's one of the holiest shrines in India. So I'm sitting outside this cave - and suddenly these two white birds... What are they called? Doves. Two doves flew out of the cave. And as they flew over my head, one of them dropped something in my lap. And in that moment, I heard, 'This is for Ram Das.'" "Wait," I said incredulously. "You heard that inside, from God? Or from the bird?" "Yes, yes," he replied, with the affirmative Indian head wobble. "The bird." Rouf reached down and unwrapped a small package, and then held up the precious object: a radiant red Lingam. "Ruby!" he said. "A ruby Lingam."
"A Prema Lingam!" I replied, awed at the beautiful cosmic egg God had given. (Prema means 'Divine Love'.)
"Yes." Rouf held it up to the light and smiled. "But the problem was," he continued, "I didn't know who is this Ram Das. I had forgot your name. So I prayed for two weeks, every day, "Baba, who is this Lingam for? Who is this Ram Das?" Finally, one night Baba came in my dream. He showed me you, and said, 'This is Ram Das. Give it to him.'"
Rouf handed me the Lingam, which fit beautifully in the palm of my hand. I was speechless - what a bizarre story! Like something out of Tolkein, except the "Lord of the Rings" who had sent this was the supreme Lord of Love, incarnate in human form! What an amazing leela - what a gift!
I held the sacred object to my chest for a while, drawing in its energy, and then said, "You know, Rouf, there's another interesting aspect to this. In the book I'm working on, there's a ladder of concepts you can climb to reach the Truth. Once you climb it, you then step off the ladder onto the Roof - the Supreme Reality, where no mind exists, where no concepts can ever reach. So in my book, the word 'Roof' is equated with the Supreme Being. And this gift has come to me from the 'Rouf'!"
God bless Rouf for passing the Lingam on to me, without the slightest hint of request for payment of any kind. May he ever live up to his high name!
Clearly, Sai Baba stops at nothing to express His love for His devotees... Is it not obvious, He is an incarnation of God?
Baba's Own Words And what does Baba Himself say? "The totality of Divine Energy has come unto humanity as Sathya Sai. This is a human form in which every Divine Entity, every Divine Principle, that is to say all the names and forms ascribed by man to God are manifest."19 He says He is the Father who sent Jesus - but then adds that we are also God, but have forgotten:
"You as body, mind or soul are a dream. But what you really are is pure existence, knowledge, bliss. You are the God of this universe."
He declares that He knows the entire past and future of every one of us, as well as our every thought - and frequently proves this assertion by revealing intimate knowledge of the innermost thoughts and personal lives of His devotees. His continuous flow, for over six decades, of miraculous manifestations, and instantaneous healings of 'incurable' maladies such as cancer, paralysis and blindness, is, to my knowledge, unparalleled in the history of the world. I've also read a number of well-documented accounts of Baba bringing people back from the dead, including a Nepalese woman named Bharosa Adhikari, and an elderly American named Walter Cowan, whose resurrection is beautifully described in My Baba and I, by Dr. John Hislop. Another such account, regarding an Indian devotee named V. Radhakrishna, follows later in the website.
Over the years, many people have reported that Sai Baba has appeared before them in various places around the globe in a living form - yet He has 'physically' left India only once. One example is Connie Shaw, the American author and lecturer, who states in her book Wake Up Laughing that Baba has appeared in her home in Colorado over fifty times! At one point He appeared in the middle of the night, waking her from sleep with a tap on the shoulder, to request that she take over the presidency of a local Sai Center. Since the center was mainly comprised of Indians and she felt it would be inappropriate for a Westerner to lead them, she refused His request. The next night He came again, and again she refused. When He appeared for the third consecutive night she finally relented and agreed to lead the center. When she reluctantly told the president of the Center about the apparitions, he confessed that on the same three nights Baba had appeared in his home as well, requesting that he resign so Connie could take his place!
Another example is James Sinclair, an American businessman who had never heard of Sai Baba, and who saw, on two occasions, an orange-robed man with an afro appearing and disappearing in his house in the USA. Inquiring at a spiritual book store if any living Master fit the description, he was shown a photo of Sai Baba, whom he instantly recognized as the man in his home. When Sinclair finally made it to Baba's ashram, the first thing Baba said to him was, "I came to you twice!"
Four Great Miracle Stories
Here are four representative stories, from among the thousands I've heard and read, which reveal a glimpse of Sai Baba's divine power, compassion and sense of humor. The first is the account of Bhagwandas Daswani, a prosperous businessman of Hong Kong (reprinted from Face to Face with God, by V.I.K. Sarin, former senior journalist at one of India's leading newspapers):
"On May 10, 1977, I was struck with a massive heart attack. I was admitted to the Queen Mary Hospital on May 11, and I learned later that at 4 a.m. on the same day Baba had called my son, who was studying in Swami's College at Whitefield, and told him, "Go to Hong Kong immediately, as your father is having a little heart trouble."
Daswani said, "I actually died for two minutes and was revived by doctors."
Although Daswani came around, there was no improvement in his condition and he was confined to the Intensive Care Unit. On May 20, he suffered a relapse and started hemorrhaging from the anus. He was losing about four pints of blood a day. He had drips in both arms and a pad over his heart. The hemorrhaging continued for three days and by May 24, his family had lost hope for his life, and so had the team of doctors.
"On the morning of May 25, at exactly 4:10 a.m.," recalled Daswani, "Sathya Sai Baba walked through the wall of the room and sat on the bed. He showered vibhuti all over me. The vibhuti came pouring out of his hand in a never-ending flow. With the vibhuti bath I suddenly felt a surge of strength all through my body. I was completely baffled by the appearance of Baba in the room, and thought I was dreaming or hallucinating. I therefore said, 'Baba are you really here or am I dreaming?' He said, 'I am here all right. What would you like me to do?' I said, 'Just put me on that couch over there next to the bed, so that I know I am not dreaming.' He then lifted me up as though I was a feather and placed me on the couch. The drips in my arm remained intact, nothing was disturbed. Baba then left the same way as he had come.
"I then rang the night bell to call the staff nurse. A horde of nurses came rushing into the room. Their astonishment was beyond description. 'How did you get here?' they asked. 'I walked,' I said, aware that it would be impossible for them to believe the truth. 'Who has been in here? And what is all this dust all over the bed, and all over you?' they asked. I said, 'Don't ask me. Just collect that dust and put it in a paper bag for me.' They did this and collected one and a half kilograms of vibhuti.
"I began to improve rapidly after this, and the doctors and the staff kept questioning me as to what had happened. Finally an Indian doctor showed up and he said to me, 'Look, I am an Indian. You can tell me what happened.' I told him, and he kept my secret. On May 29 I was able to walk by myself to another ward. I made a complete recovery, and what is more, my diabetes has disappeared and my blood sugar is normal. I owe my eternal gratitude to Bhagavan Baba."
Here is the testimony of Kitty Lamonte of Scotland (as related in Divine Glory, by V. Balu & Shakuntala Balu):
"My story begins sometime last summer, when I first became aware of Baba. I was invited to visit some Indian friends of a friend of mine and they talked so lovingly and honestly about Baba that I decided to read more about him. I read 'The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist' [by Samuel Sandweiss], and in fact used it almost like a Bible, in that I read the writings of Baba everyday. "At this time I had something of a drinking problem and was consuming far more alcohol than was good for me, but was unable to stop. I decided that I would enlist the help of Baba, so for three nights I sat there with the book, Baba's photograph and the whisky. I poured my drink on the 27th November, at 11:45 p.m. and sat down to watch T.V. I put my hand on the book, looked at the photograph and said, 'You really will have to help me to stop this.' There was an almighty noise and the glass exploded into a million bits. It went everywhere in the room, it was under tables, on top of books in a bookcase and some of it was found by my housekeeper the following day, under the cushion I had been sitting on. . . .
"The most interesting thing for me happened two days later. I was on a train and had not been able to get the sound of this exploding glass out of my mind, when a voice in my head said, "Did you notice that not a bit of it touched you?" I cannot tell you the feeling of absolute joy I experienced at that moment. I suddenly realised that only a miracle could have stopped this glass from damaging me very badly. It was no more than a foot away from my face.
"I have now made a firm commitment to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, never to drink alcohol again."
One day Baba called a poor Muslim family in for an interview, and along with them, one Hindu man. (The person who told me this story heard it directly from the Hindu man.) A boy in the family was distraught because his two best friends had gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and his parents couldn't afford to send him along. (As a consolation, they'd brought him to see Sai Baba.) Baba started the interview by saying to the boy, "So, you want to go to Mecca." The boy burst into tears, and Baba then turned and spoke to the others for a while. The boy continued crying, and finally Baba turned to him and said, "You really want to go to Mecca, don't you!" Baba then tapped the wall of the interview room with His hand, and the wall disappeared - and in its place, a street scene from Saudi Arabia appeared. "Look, there are your two friends. Now go! You have half an hour." The boy walked into the street scene... and the wall reappeared. Baba spoke with the stunned family for another half an hour, and then tapped the wall again. The street scene reappeared - and the boy walked back into the interview room, proudly carrying some souvenirs from Mecca! A month later, when his friends returned home, the boy's parents asked them, "How long was he with you?" Confirming the boy's account, his friends replied, "Two weeks."
(Clearly Baba is a Master of both time and space - as well as being That which is beyond time and space! That's the fourth story I've heard about Sai Baba instantly transporting someone to a distant land through His interview room wall.)
Here is an account of the resurrection of V. Radhakrishna, as told by V.I.K. Sarin in Face to Face with God:
"The miracle took place in 1953. Radhakrishna was seriously ill with gastric ulcers and other complications, when he visited Puttaparthi [from his home town of Kuppam] in the hope that Baba would cure him. He was accompanied by his wife Radhamma and daughter Vijaya. On arrival at the ashram he was put straight to bed. Baba, who was then only 27 years old, visited him but made no attempt to heal him. Radhakrishna complained that he would rather die than continue to suffer the extreme pain he was in. Baba smiled but made no comments.
A few days later Radhakrishna went into a coma and his wife and daughter, who were at the bedside, heard the "death rattle" in his throat. Swami came and examined him, but still did nothing. An hour later Radhakrishna's breathing stopped. He turned blue, and then went cold and stiff. A male nurse pronounced him dead. Baba examined him again. "Don't worry," he said. "Everything will be all right." But he still made no attempt to revive him. The faith of the wife and daughter was put to severe test. The following day they sat loyally by the bedside anxiously awaiting any signs of returning life. But there was no indication of revival. Somehow the two women managed to cling on to a vestige of faith that in His own way and in His own time Swami would revive Radhakrishna. On the morning of the third day the body turned dark, quite stiff and began to smell. It was suggested to Radhamma that the "corpse" should be removed from the ashram, but she refused adamantly to countenance such action without the authority of Baba. His aides asked for instructions as to whether the body should be sent back to Kuppam or be cremated at Puttaparthi. Baba replied enigmatically, "We'll see."
The two women were in despair. They went to Baba and pleaded with Him. He simply said, "Have no fear. I am here." He did, however, promise to visit their room and examine Radhakrishna later. An hour went by, then two and there was no sign of Baba. It was then that Radhamma and Vijaya gave up hope. Then, suddenly, Swami appeared in the doorway of their room, calm and smiling. The two women burst into tears, like Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, weeping before their Lord who, they thought, had come too late.
Gently He asked them to leave the room, and as they moved out He closed the door behind them. They do not know - nor anyone else knows till this day - what really transpired in the next few minutes in that room where only Swami and the dead man were present. But in just a few minutes, Baba opened the door and beckoned the women in there, to see their loved one sitting up in bed and smiling! The stiffness of death had vanished and his natural colour was returning. Baba said to him, "Talk to them, they were worried." Radhakrishna, with a puzzled look said, "Why are you worried? I am all right!" He was not aware that he had been in a deathly coma. Swami then said to Radhamma, "I have given your husband back to you. Now give him a hot drink." Thereupon He blessed the family and left. The next day the patient was strong enough to walk. On the third day he wrote a seven-page letter to a relative in Italy. A few days after that the whole family returned to their home in Kuppam. Not only was Radhakrishna raised from the dead, but the gastric ulcers and the other complications were completely healed. It was a repetition of the raising of Lazarus."23
A Word About Baba's Manifestations Many Western scientists and researchers have investigated Baba's miraculous powers, and declared them to be genuine. Baba is probably most famous for His materializations of rings - and the frequent manifestations of vibhuti, kumkum and amrit which appear on His photographs in various places around the globe. [The photos below show examples of such manifestations from devotees' homes around the world.]
Yet vibhuti manifestations are only the beginning: He's manifested thousands of items, including deity statues, japa malas, lingams, gems, fine watches, all kinds of jewelry, photographs, puja items, at least one crucifix, and various kinds of food - sometimes in huge quantities. (When they first emerge from the ether, many of the deity statues are literally too hot to handle, as if the metal had just begun to cool from its molten state.) Baba often makes such items miraculously appear on the altars of His devotees in various locations around the world - and then later causes vibhuti or kumkum to form on them. I've heard that He once materialized a live monkey in His interview room. He assures us that these manifestations are no mere magic, nor even the siddhi of being able to psychically move objects from one place to another. His miracles occur by God's power, the same power that created the universe: the ability to will into being anything He wishes. (This has been proven on a number of occasions, such as the time a devotee handed Him a leaf and He returned the same leaf coated in gold, or the time he manifested an apple for a couple who had been trying unsuccessfully to have a child: when cut in two, the 'apple' turned out to be a passion-fruit on the inside. The couple ate it, and nine months later had their first child.)
False Materializations? Some people have accused Baba of "faking" materializations, saying, for instance, that they have seen Him clandestinely pull a ring from under His cushion and then wave His hand and pretend to miraculously manifest the ring. Although these stories may just be more lies from the jealous ones, let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that Baba does occasionally throw some cheap magic tricks in among His miracles, and allows a few devotees to glimpse His sleight of hand. What could be the reason for it?
First of all, there could be many devotees whom Baba wishes to bless with a faith-enhancing gift, who are simply not karmically ripe enough to receive a divinely manifested object. (Most souls in this age are immersed in dense worldly ignorance, and are neither spiritually ready nor karmically deserving to witness genuine miracles.) So, although Baba definitely has the power to manifest anything He wishes, and transform one object into another with a single puff of His breath (something He has proved time and time again for decades), for certain souls He might instead engage in a bit of beginner's magic, and pull a ring from under His cushion rather than materializing it. This would enable those devotees to receive the gifts from His hand that they craved, thereby giving their faith a boost, while satisfying the requirements of the Law of Karma.
By allowing one or more devotees to glimpse the trick, my guess is that Baba would simply be exposing a doubt that was already lurking within their minds, bringing it to the surface so it could be faced directly - and in the process giving them a severe test. I imagine He might be saying, 'So, you claim to be My devotee! But after all these years of experiencing my omniscience and omnipresence and witnessing my miracles first hand, and after hearing and reading thousands of accounts of the healings and blessings I have bestowed on others - you still doubt Me? Then perhaps you are not worthy to be My devotee. Here, you see? I am a fake! I have pulled the ring from under the cushion! Now, isn't it best you leave Me and begin denouncing Me to the world? Then other immature souls will also stay away. Very happy!'
When the doubting devotee is thus challenged, he will either make the choice to leave Baba, or else receive the grace to remember Baba's Divinity, infinite power and mischievous nature - and then cast aside all doubts and emerge with fully renewed faith. Using such a test, Baba can filter out devotees whose faith is only 'miracle deep' and shallow in true devotion and understanding, while retaining more mature devotees whose faith and devotion are based on a profound soul experience of who He is - a faith unshakable by such leelas. (I would guess that only those of the second variety are ready for the full-out quest for Self-Realization, the ultimate Gift, the one Baba took birth to give.) Another possible outcome: by shocking a devotee out of his 'miracle-based faith', Baba's tricky test could serve as a wake up call from the duality laden Guru-disciple dream, breaking the devotee's attachment to worship of the external Guru, and leaving him with no recourse but to put all his focus on the non-dual Atman - which is, after all, the true spiritual goal. Through that sudden shift of focus onto the Self within, the devotee just might find Baba in a whole new way; it could even propel him all the way to Enlightenment - to the permanent realization that Paramatma Sai is his own indwelling 'I'. And remember, to bring us to Enlightenment is the Guru's one essential task - their very raison d'etre - and they will accomplish that task 'by any means necessary', including lying, trickery, the breaking of taboos, and any other available method of shocking us out of our complacency and making us thoroughly miserable in our spiritual egos!
(Sometimes a painful whack from Zen Master Baba can be far more valuable than a miracle...)
One thing to keep in mind: intentionally bringing up doubts in the devotees' minds is a time-tested technique used by many Gurus; I have personally experienced it with Ammachi, and also read about Neem Karoli Baba using the same method. What better way to bring the devotee face to face with his own Doubting Thomas, and challenge him to rise above all doubts into the true Atmic quest, into unflinching faith, surrender and Divine Love?
Knowing Baba's playful Krishna nature, I certainly wouldn't put it past Him to be playing a few games with His materialization leelas. He is, after all, an embodiment of Mahamaya, the Creatrix of the whole cosmic illusion, the One who is fooling all beings! Yet He is also the supreme Truth, and the supreme bliss - and if we can learn to enjoy His mischievous games as much as He does, without insisting He play by our rules, I believe we'll have gone a long way towards attaining that bliss, which is our true eternal nature.
I know a young man from Mexico who witnessed what he thought was a fake materialization done by Baba. He went into anguish over the doubt it created in his mind, and secretly prayed that Baba would clear it away with something truly 'unfakable', such as making water pour out of His hand! The next day Baba called him in for a private interview, rolled up His sleeve and held out His down-turned hand - and suddenly, a stream of water poured out of His palm like water from a tap!
My friends, is it wise to doubt Him?
For those who have studied Sai Baba in depth and witnessed His materializations first hand, there can be no doubt that the vast majority of them are bona fide miracles. I and many of my friends have seen numerous unquestionably-genuine miracles up close: necklaces and watches literally popping out of the air beneath Baba's hand, right before our eyes. And there are thousands of believable stories. My fiancé's parents know an American woman for whom Baba once materialized a gold bangle during an interview. When she tried to put it on it was too small, and wouldn't fit over her hand, so Baba took it back, held it up for all to see, and blew on it - and the bangle instantly expanded to a much larger size, which easily fit over her hand! But then she said, "Swami, now it's too big - it'll fall off!" So He bent over and blew on it again - and the bangle instantly shrank into a perfect fit around her wrist.
(Can any of you guys do that?)
I recently heard a story about a young Australian whose group was called for an interview. He had forgotten his yellow 'group scarf', and in a panic considered running back to his room - he went half-way towards the exit, and then changed his mind and decided to risk being turned away at the interview room door. Baba graciously let him in, sans scarf, and during the course of the interview Baba materialized a ring for him, with the usual photo of Baba's face on it, which was passed around for all to see. After the interview, the young man went back to his room and took a nap, and when he woke up, he discovered that the photo on the ring had undergone a miraculous transformation: Baba was now pictured wearing a yellow scarf around His neck! (I heard the story from someone who was in the ashram at the time and saw the transformed ring himself.)
Do tell, doubters, how did Baba "fake" that one?
One thing to keep in mind: the gifts Baba give reflect the qualities of the people to whom they are given. Furthermore, what we see in the Sai Mirror (and receive therefrom) reflects primarily our own minds. Baba often manifests diamond rings, with surprisingly large diamonds set beautifully in gold; some of these rings have been valued at over a quarter of a million dollars. Yet one man, who has now taken to globally scandalizing Baba, also received a ring from Him - and when he took it to a jeweler for valuation, he was told it was not a diamond at all but merely a well-cut lump of glass! Is it any wonder Baba gave such a ring to one who would prove a completely false devotee? Of this I am sure: if Baba does occasionally engage in a bit of 'sleight of hand', it is only another piece of His maya - specifically designed to create negative rumors that will test His devotees and keep unripe souls from recognizing Who He is. Those who think they have 'caught the magician at his tricks' have actually been fooled by the Avatar's maya, and in the process proved themselves as yet unworthy to behold the glory of the living Incarnation of God.
His True Mission
In understanding Baba's miracles, it's important to remember His own words on the subject: He says that in comparison with His true mission, His miracles are "like a mosquito on an elephant's back." He repeats what Shirdi Sai Baba said so often: "I give them what they want, so they will want what I have to give!" He says He has come not to manifest rings or bless us with promotions and healings - the purpose for His incarnation is to usher in a new age of Divine Peace on Earth, and establish divine qualities in our hearts:
"This Sai has come in order to achieve the supreme task of uniting the entire mankind as one family through the bond of brotherhood, of affirming and illumining the Atmic Reality of each being in order to reveal the Divine, which is the basis on which the entire Cosmos rests. This Sai has come to instruct all to recognize the common Divine Heritage that binds man to man, so that man can rid himself of the animal and rise into the Divine, which is his goal. This Sai has come to show that Love - Prema - is the easiest way to reach the Divine."24
Baba says He has come to "avert the crisis that has come upon humanity", and usher in a new age of divine wisdom upon the Earth, a golden age of Love, peace and understanding - and He assures us that He will succeed. In the mid-1980's He told His students that He would be working directly with the minds of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to bring about a change in the world. I would guess it is no mere co-incidence that the fall of global communism occurred less than ten years after that statement was made! (As Baba said in the '70s when asked about Communism, "Communists? Come you next!") Now Baba has thousands of devotees from the former communist nations, spreading His message of Divine Love where such words were forbidden for decades. Surely Baba's work has made the world a better place; the Earth, by His plan, grown a hair closer to Planet Peace. Perhaps it will be with Prema Sai, Baba's next incarnation - due to be born in some lucky South Indian manger around 2028 - that the global level of spiritual knowledge will reach critical mass, and the Earth and its atmosphere finally be divinely transformed, into a Paramatma-sphere. May the day come soon!
A Taste of His Teachings
Baba's teachings cover many viewpoints, and seem to primarily be a resounding, world-emboldening 'Yes!' to all legitimate spiritual paths and the basic truths of all religions. Most of Baba's teachings focus on love - love for God and for all beings - as the essential core of spirituality: "Start the day with Love. Spend the day with Love. Fill the day with Love. End the day with Love. This is the way to God!" And this Love is to be given to everyone, always, without exception: "Love all, serve all! Help ever, hurt never!"
Yet as I explored His teachings more deeply, I found that He is also a Master of advaithic philosophy, and a strong exponent of the jnana path (the path of Atmic wisdom). "The main aim of human life is to acquire the knowledge of the Atman. This is the true Purushartha [goal of life]. Human life will find fulfillment only if this goal is attained." The various approaches are beautifully balanced in His discourses, with devotion and Atmic abidance given equal importance.
Baba also stresses the practice of what He calls the five primary human values, namely, Love, Truth, Peace, Righteousness, and Non-violence. In many of His discourses He asks us to dedicate all our actions to God and live in tireless selfless service to humanity. He also lays importance on the practice of kindness, and the use of sweet speech under all circumstances, saying, "You cannot always oblige; but you can always speak obligingly." Baba advocates daily meditation for all, as well as repetition of God's Names with love, devotional singing, and the practice of seeing and serving God within everyone, laying particular emphasis on continual remembrance of the Divine Reality. "Spirituality means constant integrated awareness."
Interestingly, He does not encourage His non-Hindu devotees to become Hindus, but rather, to use His teachings to become the best Christians, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists they can be. Many of the devotional songs sung at Baba's ashrams contain the names of Allah, Jesus, Zaroaster, Mahavir, Moses, Guru Nanak and the Buddha, in addition to the Hindu Avatars. It seems to be a clear a way of saying, 'Hear, O world! The Lord is One!' "There is only one Religion, the Religion of Love. There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity. There is only one language, the language of the Heart. There is only one God, and He is omnipresent."
As an aid to the realization of His primary teaching - that we are God - He often recommends use of the mantra 'So Ham' (meaning "I am He", or "I am God"). He has also offered His devotees the following maha-affirmation:
I am God! I am God! I am not different from God!
I am the eternal undifferentiated Absolute!
Grief and anxiety cannot effect me.
I am always content. Fear cannot enter me.
I am Satchidananda! I am pure Existence, Knowledge and Bliss.
I am Omnipotent! I am all-powerful; nothing is impossible for me!
I am Omniscient! I am all-knowing; there is nothing which is not known to me.
I am Omnipresent! I am present everywhere. I pervade this universe!
I am Krishna! I am Christ! I am Buddha!
I am Sai! I am Sai! I am Sai!
I am God! I am God! I am God!
(Try saying that ten times a day, and see how fast your life changes...!)
Baba Is Also a Perfect Jnani
I've noticed that many seekers on the jnana path tend to misunderstand Sai Baba, and look down on Him because of His miracles, believing they mean He is merely an un-Self-Realized 'showman' capturing immature hearts with yogic tricks. I would like to give a brief answer. If the testimony of Anandamoyi Ma and the other Saints quoted above can be trusted, Sai Baba is a full incarnation of God, the likes of which the world hasn't seen for thousands of years. Jesus and Sri Krishna also worked miracles frequently, didn't they? Does anyone imagine that means they weren't Self-Realized? Simply put, working miracles is one of the fundamental aspects of the Avatar's job. When God takes birth on Earth, He always comes with a huge mission to accomplish; Baba's mission seems to be to lift the Earth from an age of materialism and nuclear madness into one of divine understanding and peace - and to do this, He must establish faith in God in the hearts of millions of non-believers. Miracles are simply the most efficient way to accomplish this. (It is surely as true in today's world as in the days of Jesus: unless we see signs and wonders, we will not believe!) If someone miraculously materialized a necklace before your eyes, lovingly put it around your neck, and then told you the innermost secret of your heart - would it ever again be possible for you to doubt the existence of a higher Reality? Wouldn't those small miracles have gone a long way to proving God's love for you?
The advent of a Divine Incarnation such as Sai Baba might be a bit like when Alfred Hitchcock played a role in his own movies. Although Hitchcock wrote and directed the whole movie, his character on screen might be only an ice-cream salesman in the background, visible for a minute or so, and many in the audience wouldn't even notice the character. But those who recognized Hitchcock would say, 'That's not just a bit part - he's the author and director of the whole movie!' Similarly, there are those who look at Sai Baba and see only a 'miracle showman.' Look closer, my friends. He's written this movie, and cast you in your role! (But don't worry - your performance is getting rave reviews: 'Exquisite! As if God Himself were playing the part!') In addition to His role as Incarnation of God, the Avatar is also a Self-Realized Master; in fact, this is the Avatar's primary qualification. He is the Paramatman, the infinite expanse of pure Awareness in which the whole realm of time and space floats like a tiny bubble - and the Avatar will always be fully aware of His identity as the Paramatman; otherwise He could not be called an Avatar! I humbly submit that Sathya Sai Baba, miracles and all, is a perfect Jnani, and fully capable of leading a seeker on the jnana path (or any other path, for that matter) all the way to Self-Realization.
Baba and Ramana Maharshi
And speaking of Jnanis, at the moment of the death of Ramana Maharshi (one of the greatest Self-Realized Masters of the last century), and extraordinary event occurred in Baba's ashram, giving us a clue both to Baba's identity and His relationship with Ramana. A Sai devotee named Varadu reported what happened: "...the night when Ramana Maharshi passed away in Tiruvannamalai [14th April, 1950], I was with Swamiji [Sai Baba]. Krishna [another young devotee] and myself were both there. That evening, around 9:00, we continued whatever it was we were doing (I think we were doing a puja) when suddenly Swamiji looked up at us. There was a peculiar way of looking He has which means that He wants to go to His room. The moment Krishna and I went through the door into the room and closed it, Swami fell down. I was ready for it. Krishna and I both held hands, and Swami was lying across them. Then [He] rose up into the air, from our arms. He was as stiff as a board. He started murmuring - something about 'Maharshi has reached my lotus feet.' And then the sole of His right foot split open, and nearly two kilograms of beautiful, well-scented vibhuti poured out from the sole of His foot. I collected the vibhuti while [He] was still levitating in the air. Then [He] came down and returned to [His] senses and asked what [He] had said. I said, "Swamiji, this is what You said: 'Ramana Maharshi has passed away.' And this is what came out of Your feet." He said: "Put it into packets and give it out as prasadam." A day or two after this incident, we learned from the newspapers that [Ramana] Maharshi had died. It had been at the time that Swami said Maharshi had reached [His] feet."26 So, at the time of his death, Ramana Maharshi merged in Baba's feet! Is it not therefore clear that Sai Baba is a full embodiment of the Divine Self, the supreme Atmic Reality that Ramana had realized at the age of 17? Baba's Self-Realized Devotees Baba is said to have many Self-Realized devotees quietly doing His work in various locations around the globe. So far I've personally met four of them - and to my mind, nothing proves Baba's perfection more clearly than His divinized devotees. (As Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them." These are very sweet mangoes!)
The first is a man named Gopala Krishna Baba, who lives in a small Sai Baba temple in Bangalore. His parents were ardent Sai devotees, but from his early childhood Gopalakrishna was intensely drawn to the local Sri Ramakrishna Temple, where he would spend all his time absorbed in devotion and meditation, cherishing the dream of becoming a monk in the Sri Ramakrishna order. He became so immersed in God that he almost never felt the need to sleep, and would remain awake throughout the night repeating the Divine Name. In his mid-teens, when Gopalakrishna was alone in the house one day, vibhuti began miraculously manifesting on Sai Baba's photos in his parents' puja room, leaving a strong impression on the young man. Soon afterwards He visited Baba's ashram, and, as he tells it, "My heart instantly recognized in Sai Baba the same Divine Being who had lived as Sri Ramakrishna." His devotion for Baba soon became the overwhelming force in his life, and in the coming years he often visited Baba's ashrams, and received many blessings from Him. However, in 1990, when Gopalakrishna went to Baba's ashram for the Birthday celebrations, due to the massive crowds he was unable to see Baba the way he wished, and therefore told Baba internally, "Next year I will celebrate Your Birthday in my own home, so please come there to receive my worship!" Clearly the Lord was listening, for the next year on Baba's birthday, while Gopalakrishna was performing a puja in his home, Baba suddenly appeared before him in a living form, manifested a beautiful Lingam, and gave it to Gopalakrishna, an event witnessed by others. In those precious divine moments Baba told him, "Every Monday, perform worship to this Lingam. I am with you always."
And so it is. Gopalakrishna is now established in changeless Peace, knows the thoughts of all around him, and possesses many miraculous powers. His foremost Western disciple, a beautiful man from Holland, told me an interesting miracle story. It seems that on one of his first trips to India, he had come down with dysentery, and when he reported to Gopalakrishna that the medicine prescribed by a doctor could not be found in the local shops, Gopalakrishna simply waved his hand and instantly manifested a strip of the required tablets. Some people have reported that by drinking the water used in Gopalakrishna's worship of the Lingam they have been healed of long-standing diseases; others say they have had their personal problems solved, while others say that his grace has enabled them to find the most precious gem of all, peace of mind. It seems that Gopalakrishna Baba is a genuine wish-fulfilling tree.
Devi Amma The second great devotee is a woman named Devi Amma, who lives near Baba's ashram in Whitefield. She is radiant with saintly Love, and my intuition is that she is a fully-Realized Saint of the highest order. Devi Amma speaks fluent English, and tells delightful stories, often bubbling over with laughter. She humbly says that on the inner plane she often finds herself in a group of Spiritual Masters gathered around Sai Baba, saying it has been given her to keep one foot in that realm, and the other in our realm! She speaks with great familiarity about the various forms of God, and the ancient Sages and celestial beings, for it seems they visit her on a regular basis. "There are many levels of angels," she said to one questioner. "They look very beautiful, so beautiful! When they reach the highest level of angel, they become almost as beautiful as Lord Jesus." Devi Amma's life story is amazing. When she was 15, her uncle died unexpectedly, and the tragedy led her into deep introspection on the meaning of life. In the spontaneous meditations that followed, she began hearing the sound "OM", and soon after this, a blazing sun of spiritual light appeared in her room. From within that effulgence gradually emerged the form of a divine man with a radiant aura, who introduced himself as the ancient Sage Agastya, the first of the great Rishis. (She says, with all humor and humility, that in a previous incarnation she was Agastya's daughter.) Agastya declared that he was her Guru, and began appearing before her on a daily basis, instructing her in meditation and the secrets of spirituality, and by the age of 20 she had attained Enlightenment. One night, Sathya Sai Baba unexpectedly appeared in her room, His form repeatedly changing into the form of Lord Subramaniam (her family's chosen Deity) and then back into the form of Sai Baba, thus revealing His oneness with God. Some years later, when she finally saw Sai Baba in person, she had the same experience: "Sai Baba - Subramaniam! Sai Baba - Subramaniam!" She says that while Agastya is her Guru, Sai Baba is the Poornavatar, and is now working through her to bless and uplift humanity.
Little Heart The third great devotee is an Australian woman who calls herself "Little Heart." She says she attained union with Baba through the path of Love, and now sees God everywhere, and is always aware of her true Being as all-pervading Consciousness. She lives near Baba's Brindavan ashram, writes beautiful books, and gives sage advice, so to speak, to those with questions. I recently had an interview with her, in which she said, among other things, "A Poornavatar like Baba doesn't exactly come along at every tick of the clock!" (We are indeed fortunate to be alive at this time, and be aware of His presence on the Earth!)
Having lived a very full life in the world before coming to Baba, including two marriages and two divorces, Little Heart is in an unusually good position to know the struggles Westerners go through in making the transition to a life of spirituality. I always find it encouraging to meet a Self-Realized Westerner. (Yes, it is possible...!)
Sai Lakshmi Ma Then there is Sai Lakshmi Ma, who says that in 1980 Baba came into Her body and has never left. In the several hours I spent in her presence, I witnessed a steady stream of delightful miracles. As soon as she placed a garland on the altar, amrit began trickling from a large photo of Baba. Then she held her palm towards Baba's photo, and it was instantly filled with amrit, which was passed out to all. I had brought her a bag full of grapes and laid it in front of her altar; five minutes later she opened the bag, and showed me that a number of the grapes were now half-eaten, a sign that Baba had received the offering directly! She held up to Baba's photo some bananas which my friend had brought, and after ten seconds, showed us that each banana now had clear teeth marks in the skin! Another friend of mine put three laddus (sweets) on the altar in a bag. A few minutes later Sai Lakshmi Ma indicated he should open the bag - and one of the laddus had a large bite taken out of it! (The specially blessed food was passed out to all.) Necklaces handed to her for blessings were returned a minute later, smelling of rose perfume or dripping with amrit. Empty containers passed to her would be returned miraculously filled with vibhuti or kumkum. When questions were asked, her responses seemed to indicate that she was hearing Baba's answer directly and then passing it on. I was told that many people have received healings through her prayers to Baba. Although it wasn't clear whether or not she is fully Self-Realized, the miracles were definitely genuine. At the very least, she is a great servant of God, and an extraordinary channel for Sai Baba's blessings.
Vasantha Sai, Vijai Shankar & Others I've also read about an elderly woman in Madurai named Vasantha Sai, who has attained God-Realization through her intense devotion to Baba, whom she considers to be "the reincarnation of Sri Krishna." She says that Baba has told her internally that she is the reincarnation of Radha, the childhood consort of Lord Krishna; this identity has been confirmed by several 'palm-leaf prophecies.' She is now giving subtle help to many seekers. (My psychic friend Mary visited her and reported that she is truly a Saint, and does indeed have an Enlightened aura.)
I've also heard reports about a man named Vijai Shankar, based in Houston, who realized the Self through Baba's grace, and is now traveling the world teaching advaitha (the philosophy of non-duality) and Atmic abidance. In addition, I've heard that among Baba's devotees today is the reincarnation of Saint Francis, the reincarnation of Mira Bai, the reincarnation of Sarada Devi, the reincarnation of Swami Vivekananda, and the reincarnation of Paramahansa Yogananda! (Hey, could be...)
It's always inspiring to have the darshan of those who have reached life's goal by following my own chosen guide. Jai Sai Ram!
Baba's Charitable Works In addition to His ashrams, Sai Baba runs a vast network of charitable organizations, including two of the finest hospitals in India, where all services, including open heart surgery, are provided free of charge to all. The hospitals' success rate is phenomenal. Someone asked Baba, "Why do You build hospitals when you can cure anyone with Your miraculous powers?" He replied, "Yes, I can cure any disease instantly. But for that the person must have total faith in me. Most people in this age have more faith in doctors and operations than they have in God. So I give them what they have faith in. But it is My hand that does the operations!" (Hence the success rate!)
Baba's 'Super Specialty Hospital' in Puttaparthi
In addition, Baba has created a vast water supply system for a draught-stricken area in South India, and also founded an extremely high-quality, comprehensive educational system, from kindergarten to post-graduate levels, with all tuition provided at no cost. Each year the Sai Schools turn out the finest graduates in India, young men and women not only established in academic excellence, but rooted in self-discipline, integrity and spiritual wisdom. There are also Sri Sathya Sai schools operating in a number of other countries, and over five hundred schools around the globe utilizing Baba's "Education in Human Values" curriculum. A Sathya Sai School in Zambia has been dubbed "the Miracle School" by the Zambian press, because it accepts only students who have flunked out or been expelled by other schools, and yet consistently turns them into the best students in the nation. How is it done? The students do long periods of interfaith devotional singing each day, receive a steady dose of Baba's 'human values' curriculum, and are disciplined only with Love. (I'd bet they're also receiving huge doses of Baba's Grace, wouldn't you?)
Baba has recently constructed a beautiful College of Music near the Prashanti Nilayam ashram. (Does anyone else hear harp music?)
Ocean of Consciousness
Whenever I meditate deeply on Baba, I invariably find myself uplifted into infinitely expansive blissful Love; and daily, in His presence, there is a palpable deepening into the awesome silence of the Self. Even on rough days - when I've cut my neck shaving and I've got diarrhea again and I've splattered mud on my new white pants and the rickshaw driver's hit the speed bump at 30 kilometres-per-hour making my head bang on the rickshaw roof and I've cursed loudly just before arriving at the ashram - even then, there's always a dose of bliss and peace from my Baba's darshan. I never cease to be amazed - what a Master He is!
Those of us who have experienced Baba's Love and omniscient guidance, and seen the profound transformations brought about in our lives by His grace, can only bow in gratitude, and do our best to love Him and serve Him and worship Him within all. For Sai Baba is not a man; for me, He fully embodies the all-pervading God of Love (with a great sense of humor) who awakened me many years ago. I believe it can even be misleading to call Him "an incarnation of God" - for He is not that afro-crowned body in the orange robe giving darshan, the Guru who took birth in Puttaparthy. No. He is the all-pervading Ocean of Consciousness, the Substratum and Creator of all universes! That ochre-clad body we see before us is but a wave on the shoreless, all-encompassing Sea of Satchidananda, who Sai Baba is. In His words:
"I am neither Guru nor God. I am You; You are I; that is the truth. There is no distinction. The appearance of differences is the delusion. You are waves; I am the ocean. Know this and be free, be Divine."
His true form (and ours) is indeed all-embracing, and yet transcends all manifestation. As a full embodiment of that limitless Paramatma, Sai Baba is Holiness itself, and His every word and action are nothing less than Divine Love in motion, healing Grace flowing effortlessly into our parched and thirsty world. To that supreme Being, I bow.
Love Walking On Two Feet
A scientist named Dr. Baranowski, Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona and a specialist in Kirlian photography, once came to see Sai Baba. (Kirlian photography, or 'biomagnetic field radiation photography', is done with a special camera which photographs the energy bands around living beings; different colors in the biomagnetic field correspond to different emotional qualities. To quote Baranowski, "When a person is full of love the aura around him is blue and when the love is pronounced, it becomes pink.") Baranowski had scientifically trained himself to see auras, and with this trained vision was investigating the various holy men of India. Some years ago he gave a talk at the Prashanti Nilayam ashram on his experiences with Sai Baba. Some excerpts:
"I have met over a hundred holy men in India. Too many of these holy men are involved in their own personal egos. Their auras show mostly concern for themselves and their institutions. So [their auras] are only a foot broad or perhaps two feet. "I am not a devotee. I have come here as a scientist, to see this man Sai Baba. I saw him on Sunday, on the balcony giving darshan to the devotees singing below. The aura Baba projected was not that of a man. The white was more than twice the size of any man's, the blue was practically limitless, and there were gold and silver bands beyond even those, far behind this building right up to the horizon. There is no scientific explanation for this phenomenon.
"His aura is so strong that it is affecting me standing by the chair on which He is sitting. I can feel the effect and I've to wipe my arm, off and on, as you must have noticed. It is very difficult for me to admit. I am a scientist. I have given over six thousand lectures in all parts of the world but for the first time, believe me, my knees are shaking. The aura that emanates from Baba shows His Love for you. . . . If ever I can use the phrase that I have seen 'love walking on two feet,' it is here."
At this point Dr. Baranowski concluded his talk, and Sai Baba then delivered a discourse. When Baba had finished, Baranowski asked for permission to address the audience again. "I have been watching Baba, while He was addressing you. The pink aura that was manifesting was so vast and strong that it went even beyond the hall behind this chair. It filled this big hall, embracing all of you gathered here. . . I have watched Him for a week now, as He walked among you, morning and evening. I have seen His aura, pink in colour, go into the person He is talking to, or touching and returning to Him. . . His energy seems to be endless. . . In my estimation, He is exactly what He appears to be - LOVE. That is what He is."27
Who is Sai Baba? In His own words, "Sai Baba is Love, Love, Love!" He is the Creator of all universes, the Author, Producer and Director of the universal play... and He is the supreme Reality beyond even the word 'God', beyond any duality - prior to any creation, prior to time. He is the changeless eternal peace of Brahman.
And He is you. He's reading these words through your eyes right now.
And when you look at His photo, He's looking right back at you, seeing your entire heart, mind and soul, loving You with all the Love of God, and sending a ray of Divine Light to help you on your journey to Self-Realization. May His grace descend upon you now, like a million goose-down feathers in the snow.
I close with a poem , written by Baba to us all:
CHILDREN OF IMMORTALITY
Children of Immortality!
Remember that you are created In my image and likeness.
Live up to this image, in every way, in all planes.
Live like Masters!
Walk this earth with your heads held high,
Your spirits soaring...
Your hearts open to Love...
And believe in yourself and God within you.
Then all will go well.
Earth is but a manifestation of My Being.
Made out of My Life!
Wherever you look, I am there.
Wherever you walk, I am there.
Whomsoever you contact, I am that person.
I am in each, in all My Splendour.
See Me everywhere,
Talk to Me and love Me, Who am in each.
Then from each, I will respond
And bring you into Glory.
You cannot see Me in one place and not in another,
For I fill all space.
You cannot escape Me
Or do anything in secret,
For there are no secrets with Me.
Live... Live... Live... in perfect accordance With My laws, and wonders will ensue.
Think now. Does error clog the free flowing Essence of My Being through you?
Ask Me this moment to reveal to you your errors
In the silence of your meditation.
Let old memories well up in you,
From My subconscious in you...
Old patterns... Old forgotten feelings and thoughts.
Now plunge them into the Ocean of Light,
Burn them from the consciousness
So that you may be true emblems of My Being.
Right now, Visualize My burning flame
Rising higher and higher
As it burns through you.
It is a flame that is cooling,
Cleansing and healing,
That soothes the hidden sorrow...
And leaves you calmed and quiet.
Rest in my Love.
Let all that you have been through
In your many lives up to this day,
Melt away in My redeeming Light.
Children of My Being!
Dissolve your sorrows and fears in Me.
Let me efface All your karma.
Come back into My Consciousness, which is Your own true Consciousness.
Let your petty human self fade away, right now,
As you come to Me, who am your Inner Self.
You are now My radiant glorious Self...
No longer separate from Me.
Melt with Me... Merge with Me...!
Sathya Sai Baba
GLOSSARY of SANSKRIT TERMS Adharmic: unrighteous.
Advaitha: the philosophy of non-duality.
Amrit: a honey-like jasmine-flavored nectar.
Atman: Divine Self.
Atmic: pertaining to the Atman.
Avatar: Incarnation of God.
Ajna Chakra: the sacred energy center located at the 'third eye', in the center of the forehead.
Anahat Chakra: the sacred energy center located in the 'heart area.'
Brahma: Lord Brahma is the Creator, the first of the Hindu Trinity.
Brahman: the Supreme Reality; non-dual, formless pure Awareness.
Chakras: the seven sacred energy centers within the spine of man.
Darshan: Seeing a Saint. (In Sai Baba's ashrams, 'darshan' specifically refers to Baba's walking out among the devotees, giving everyone a chance to see His form.)
Darshan dreams: special dreams given by God to His devotees, in which a form of God appears.
Gopis: Lord Krishna's cowherd-girl devotees. Guru: spiritual teacher. With a capital 'G', the word implies a fully Self-Realized Divine Master.
Jnana: divine wisdom of the highest order. (One who truly has Jnana has reached the Goal of Life.)
Jnani: one who has attained full Realization of the Atman. The term is most often applied to those who have attained Realization via the path of Self-enquiry. Karma: the cosmic law of cause and affect; 'As you sow, so shall you reap.'
Kumkum: a red powder used in the worship of the Divine Mother.
Kundalini: the spiritual force latent within man, which remains dormant unless awakened through spiritual practices.
Leela: divine play, or sport. Many Hindus believe the whole universe is a 'leela', a play of God.
Lingam: a symbol of the Supreme Reality, used in the worship of Lord Shiva.
Maha: a prefix meaning 'great'.
Mahavatar: 'Great Divine Incarnation'.
Maya: The cosmic illusion; the power which veils the truth and keeps us stuck in bondage.
Moksa (also: Moksha): The final spiritual Liberation, i.e., Self-Realization.
Muladhara Chakra: the sacred energy center located at the base of the spine.
Nilayam: 'The abode of…'.
Pada Puja: foot-worship ceremony.
Paramatma: Supreme Divine Self.
Parashakti: a name of the Divine Mother, meaning 'Supreme Power'.
Parvati: one form of the Divine Mother. (Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva.)
Poornavatar: a full incarnation of God.
Prashanti: Supreme Peace.
Prema: Divine Love.
Puja: worship ceremony.
Purushartha: the spiritual Goal of Life, i.e., Self-Realization.
Puttaparthi: the town in Andhra Pradesh, South India, where Sai Baba's "Prashanti Nilayam" ashram is located.
Rishis: the ancient Hindu Sages.
Rasa dance: Krishna's dance with the Gopis, in which He manifested Himself into many different forms so He could personally dance with each Gopi.
Sadhaks: dedicated full-time spiritual seekers.
Sadhana: spiritual practices such as meditation, contemplation, Self-enquiry, and repetition of the Divine Name.
Sakti: Divine Power; also, a name of the Divine Mother.
Samadhi: a state of Yogic absorption in the Supreme Being, in which the mind is completely stilled.
Shirdi: the town in Maharashtra where Shirdi Sai Baba lived.
Siddhis: Yogic powers, i.e., the power to work miracles.
Subramaniam: The second son of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
Tantra: an ancient spiritual path. ('Right-handed tantra' involves worship of the Divine Mother through mantras and meditation, whereas 'Left-handed tantra' additionally involves the direct use of sexual energy and, sometimes, intoxicants, to awaken the spiritual power within man.)
Vasanas: mental tendencies; oft-repeated patterns of thought and action which create unwanted habits and mental bondage.
Venkateshwara: a form of Lord Vishnu, worshipped in Tirupathi, Tamil Nadu.
Vibhuti: 'sacred ash', often manifested by Sai Baba for His devotees. Vibhuti carries a spiritual and/or medicinal blessing.
Vishnu: the 'Preserver' in the great Hindu Trinity, 'Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.' Many Hindus worship Vishnu as the Supreme Lord.
Yoga: the many-branched science of attaining union with God.
Yogi: one who has attained union with God through the practice of Yoga.
: the sacred syllable "OM".
[Copyright 2001. Dated August 2001. This material may be downloaded, reproduced and distributed freely, as long as the source is clearly attributed. It is from http://www.saibaba-aclearview.com/contents2.html]