Holistic Living - Miracle of Love
by Prabhath P
-Justice P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India
The first time I saw Bhagvan Sathya Sai Baba was on May 15, 1969. I was then the Chief
My life is my message and my message is love," declared Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in his birthday discourse on November 23, 1975, at his central ashram in Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh.
Adored by millions of people all over the world as Premaswarupa, or the embodiment of love, many come from afar, braving difficulties and waiting patiently, just to get a glimpse of the Baba (also called Swami by his devotees). For them, he is the ultimate avatar of Divine Love who has come to redeem the world populated by people whose hearts have become arid loveless deserts.
During his visit to Nairobi in 1968, Baba described the essence of his mission: "I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added lustre. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plans to attract disciples or devotees to my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of love, this virtue of love, this duty of love, this obligation of love."
The innumerable miracles attributed to Sathya Sai Baba and the matchless social service activities spurred by him make him a unique spiritual luminary. Despite stiff opposition from sceptics, the Sathya Sai movement is growing in geometric proportions and has become an unprecedented spiritual phenomenon in the world.
The media usually portrays Sai Baba as a miracle worker. Sceptics make accusations of magic tricks. But reputed westerner authors such as Samuel Sandweiss, Howard Murphet and Dr John S. Hislop, in their popular books on Baba, vouch that they had witnessed miracles that can`t be explained rationally.
According to Sandweiss: "Most of the miracles attributed to Jesus Christ have reportedly been accomplished by Sai Baba." Sandweiss describes Baba materialising a necklace. "Matter appeared out of thin air, right before my eyes."
Baba’s followers believe that he is beyond time and space, unbound by natural laws. They attest to Baba`s powers of materialisation, healing, telepathy, clairvoyance, multi-location, and the ability to control the elements and assume different forms. Baba is said to have stopped the floods of Chitravathi river in 1975 to save Puttaparthi. The simple wave of the hand with which he materialises things ranging from the sacred ash called vibhuti, sweets, jewellery and idols to books and flowers, is world famous.
Says N. Kasturi in Baba`s authorised biography Sathyam Sivam Sundaram: "Even as a child, Baba had the miraculous power of getting things from `nowhere`. He surprised his playmates by taking out peppermints and sweets from empty bags." An intriguing materialisation is the emergence of Lingas from Baba`s mouth during the Shivratri festival (discontinued since). He is reputed to do extra-corporeal journeys to cure his sick devotees by taking the illness upon himself. The vibhuti, which spontaneously appears from his pictures, is said to have healing properties. Baba is believed to have resurrected an elderly American, Walter Cowan, after he was declared dead by doctors, as documented by Hislop.
Baba has said: "Miracles are my visiting cards." Howard Murphet, in his book, Sai Baba: Man of Miracles, explains that Baba`s miracles "help us to a more profound spiritual understanding and to a greater conviction that we are in the presence of a Divine Avatar".
He says: "Teachings alone do not bring a large number of people to such understanding and conviction… it is always the miracles that get attention and create interest. And so, coming to the miracle-working teacher, the crowds listen to the divine message. They receive the Truth verbally, and also in the more subtle soul-to-soul way. Moreover, they learn from Bhagwan by the example of his life and in many other ways."
In Baba`s words: "These miracles are merely baits with which I lure the people towards me. Once their faith is firmly established, they begin to look beyond the miracles and slowly start stretching their hands out for what I have really come to give-knowledge and bliss."
Sai Baba has emphasised that his greatest miracle is his love. "Prema, love, is my distinctive mark, not the creation of material objects, or the granting of health and happiness by the exercise of will. You consider what you label `miracles` as the sign of the Divine. But prema, that welcomes you all, that rushes me to the presence of those who seek God, of those who suffer from handicaps on the pilgrim route, where they are, is the real sign."
Baba teaches that "Love lives by giving and forgiving; Self lives by getting and forgetting." Love is God and God is Love. This is the highest sadhana, the royal road to God. Prema Yoga is the Supreme Yoga. He tells us to never give up on love and let love come first. Then the direct realisation of our Truth will inevitably follow.
He emphasises: "The grace of God cannot be won through the gymnastics of reason, the contortions of yoga or the denials of asceticism. Love alone can win it. Love that needs no requital, love that knows no bargain, love that is paid gladly, as tribute to all loving, love that is unwavering. Love alone can overcome obstacles, however many and mighty... The achievement of ananda through prema-attaining highest bliss through the highest love-this is the teaching of Vedanta, for which all seekers compliment the sages of this land."
Baba`s teaching is all-inclusive. He wants the many religious faiths to co-exist and flourish. "All should develop the awareness that though names and forms may differ, the essential truth is one in all religions," exhorts Baba. "One should live the ideals propounded by the founders of one`s own religion. The foundation of all religions is morality. Morality is equated with selfless love."
from head to foot I am filled with love. It is this love that has attracted the whole world"
The Sarva Dharma Stupa was erected in Prasanthi Nilayam in 1975 to celebrate the unity of religions. The giant statues of Hanuman, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, Jesus and Zoaroaster near the Hill View Stadium in Puttaparthi convey this message.
Baba asserts the inherent divinity of humanity, and that becoming aware of this Truth is the goal of life. "You are the Infinite Universal Absolute. You have to get yourselves established firmly, unshakably in this awareness… Everyone of you can attain that state; it is your destiny, your duty to yourself," Baba has proclaimed. Love, Peace, Truth, Right Conduct and Non-Violence are the values for achieving spiritual transformation.
Psychotherapist Phyllis Krystal, in her book Let`s Thank God, concludes that each of Baba`s short and concise sayings are designed to help us take a small step in the direction of union with the God-self. Baba upholds the greatness of women: "Women have equal rights to attain godhood." The feminine is the foundation on which a peaceful and happy world is to be raised.
The real miracle
For Baba`s devotees, his unalloyed love that transforms hearts-a divine alchemy-is the greatest of all his miracles. John S. Hislop, the famous foreign devotee was experienced in different spiritual disciplines even before he heard of Sai Baba. He was with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and had learned Vipassana meditation from Thray Sithu U Ba Khin, in Burma. Yet he felt that his heart was dry, with little love left in it.
When he met Sathya Sai Baba, everything changed. In his book My Baba and I, Hislop writes: "It is difficult and probably impossible to express in words the effect upon myself of that first meeting with Baba. My entire being was profoundly affected and changed. Baba immediately became the centre of my life and has remained so ever since. In his presence, at that first meeting, the world fell away from me, my entire consciousness was drawn inward and, at a most subtle level of awareness, Baba appeared in my heart as love. Love was unmistakable and that Baba was this Love was equally unmistakable."
In his book, Sai Baba, The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist, Samuel Sandweiss, himself a psychiatrist, describes his friend`s experience. Lila had gone to the hospital for a breast biopsy. Seeing her distraught emotional state, her hospital roommate gave her a prayer and she read it just before the surgery. The biopsy showed no serious problems. Later when she met Sai Baba, he suddenly turned to Lila and recited the prayer that had been given to her in the hospital. He repeated it word for word, moved his hands in the air and a large japamala (necklace) made of 108 crystal beads manifested, which he threw to Lila. Before the trip began, Lila had confided to Samuel that if Baba materialised anything for her, she would want a japamala. The one Baba created matched exactly the one she had described. Lila was stunned and broke into tears. "No, no; you must be strong!" Baba exclaimed. "I try, I try," she said. "Don`t try," he replied "Do!" Sandweiss, initially sceptical, was first unsettled, but over time was unmade and then remade in the light of spirit.
"What attracted me to Swami most is his love," says Laura Brainard, an intuitive healer from the US. She first learned about Baba from a magazine article, when she was ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. Baba appeared in her dream and promised that her illness would be healed. Her unflinching belief in Baba helped her to overcome her illness over the years. "My relationship with Baba deepened over time, until my devotion had grown so strong that he became the centre of my life, and every cell in my body lived to serve him and his mission to bring the Golden Age to earth."
But the path with Baba is not all bliss and light, at least on the surface. Laura explains that when you sign your life over to Baba you often have to go through great tests and hardships. He will accelerate the clearing of your karma, and put you through challenging experiences to develop your character to the highest degree.
When you live in a dharmic way and start growing spiritually, Baba bestows his grace. Laura believes Baba`s most important message is that we are all divine just like him;
|You may say that progress is possible only through My Grace but though My Heart is soft as butter, it melts only when there is some warmth in your prayers|
The story of Ladd Bogdonoff, also from the US, is equally compelling. He was in the real-estate business and unfortunately one of his tenants turned out to be a drug dealer. By the time he evicted the criminal through a court order, he was nearly bankrupt and sick. All attempts to sell the property proved futile. The first miracle Ladd experienced with Sai Baba came at that time. His life was a total mess and he had completely surrendered to God. Mysteriously, a buyer turned up and paid more money than demanded. In his first interview, Baba singled him out and told him that he had a "mad, mad monkey mind", exploding his ego. In the second interview Baba materialised sweet halva. On eating it, a `soothing liquid light` filled his body, catapulting him into a higher state of consciousness where he experienced pure divine love and peace. "He was bestowing upon me one of the greatest gifts that a human being can experience in this lifetime," says Ladd.
The number is legion of Indian devotees who have experienced miracles and Baba`s grace and subsequently had their lives transformed. They readily relate their stories but most are unwillingly to be quoted in a magazine article to avoid feeding their ego. One who agreed to go on record is Lt Gen (retd) D. Swaroop, of DLF, Gurgaon. He relates a 1974 incident: "I was Brigadier then. I had a problem and was keen to meet Baba and took a flight from Delhi to Bangalore, hoping to meet him at Whitefield. But unexpectedly I met him in the plane at Hyderabad airport and had the good fortune to sit next to him. On his own, the Baba told me about my worry and what was to happen. When I asked him why he couldn`t bless me with the outcome I desired, he answered: `I cannot change anyone`s destiny. I can only pray to God to lessen his suffering and if the person believes in me, he will get the courage and guidance to pass through any difficult period.` From that time, his words became an article of faith for me."
"I am in you. You are in me. We cannot be separated." Devotees ardently believe in this promise of Baba. They feel that Baba is within everyone and can appear in their dreams to guide. He often plays loving pranks on his devotees, which they enjoy as an endearing human aspect of the avatar. For example, nobody knows for sure about his itinerary and he loves to mislead devotees about his travel plans to tease them. According to Baba, `Sa` means divine, `ai` means mother and `Baba,` father. He is the divine father and mother to his devotees.
Herald of the Golden Age
Sathya Sai Baba has declared that he is a purna avatar of the Divine and that his miracles are not mere yogic siddhis but natural divine power. His devotees consider him
|Thousands of devotees report vibhuti appearing on Sai Baba`s photographs in their homes|
In spite of sceptical attacks, a wide spectrum of humanity, ranging from scientists, public figures, leaders and government officials to the poorest and the sick, continues to be captivated by Baba. His discourses attract tens of thousands even in the most secluded village and foreign devotees arrive in ever-increasing numbers. "From head to foot I am filled with only love. It is this love that has attracted the whole world," says Baba. "He carries his message of love to the very vortex of disbelief and nihilism, like light penetrating into the very heart of darkness… He is, at the same time, profoundly unattached, accepting devotion and derision with equal unconcern," points out N. Kasturi.
The Sai Mission is to be culminated by his future incarnation Prema Sai Baba. In a rare interview given to R.K. Karanjia, editor of Blitz in September 1976, Sathya Sai Baba explained the nature of the unprecedented triple avatar: "The previous avatar, Shirdi Baba, laid the base for secular integration and gave mankind the message of duty as work. The mission of the present avatar is to make everybody realise that the same God or divinity resides in everyone. People should respect, love, and help each other, irrespective of colour or creed. Thus, all work can become a way of worship. Finally, Prema Sai, the third avatar, will promote the view that not only does God reside in everybody but also everybody is God. That will be the final wisdom that will enable every man and woman to go to God."
In 1963, Baba took on a devotee`s paralysis on himself. After miraculously curing himself, he announced in his Guru Purnima discourse that he was the combined incarnation of Shiva and Shakti while Shirdi Sai Baba was the incarnation of Shiva. He prophesied that he would return as Prema Sai Baba, an incarnation of Shakti, after his passing. Since this landmark declaration, the Sai movement began to grow rapidly.
Once, as early as 1947, when Baba`s brother Seshama Raju was pained by some negative comments in the press and wrote to him, Baba gave a historic reply meant for everybody. He said: "It is only the fruit-laden tree that receives the shower of stones from passers-by… the people too have to be pitied, rather than condemned. They do not know… so, they write all manner of things. If they only knew, they would not talk or write like that. We, too, should not attach any value to such comments and take them to heart…"
|The Triple Sai Avatar: Shirdi, Sathya and Prema Sai Baba|
Meditation on light
Baba has suggested the ancient meditation upon light, the Jyoti Meditation as a safe sitting meditation.
Have a lamp with a bright steady flame or a lit candle before you. Sit in Padmasana or any other comfortable asana in front of the flame. Look at the flame steadily. Then close your eyes and try to feel the flame inside you, between your eyebrows. From there let it descend into the lotus of your heart, in the centre of the chest, illumining the path.
When it enters the heart, imagine that the petals of the lotus buds open out, one by one, bathing every thought, feeling, emotion and impulse in the light and so removing darkness there. There is no space now for darkness to take refuge. It has to flee before the flame.
Imagine that the light becomes wider, bigger and brighter. Let it pervade the limbs; now these limbs can no more deal in dark, suspicious and wicked activities. These have become instruments of light and love.
Let the light reach up to the tongue, and falsehood, slander and spite vanish from it. Let it rise up to the eyes and the ears and destroy all the dark desires therein. Let your head be surcharged with light and all the wicked thoughts flee therefrom, for these are the denizens of darkness. Imagine that light in you more and more intensely and it will become so. Let it shine all around you and let it spread from you in ever-widening circles, taking in your loved ones, your kith and kin, your friends and companions, your enemies and rivals, strangers, all living beings, the entire world. Stay on in that thrill of witnessing light. If you adore God in any form, now try to visualise that form in the all-pervasive light, for light is God and God is light.
“I saw my Krishna in Swami" —Justice P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India
The first time I saw Bhagvan Sathya Sai Baba was on May 15, 1969. I was then the Chief Justice of Gujarat, and when I heard that he was coming to Ahmedabad, I got in touch with the organisers to ask for an audience. They later asked if I could have him at my home to stay. I was on vacation then, but I came down to Ahmedabad. We got a room fitted for Swami, and decorated the courtyard with rangoli—I was tremendously exhilarated and excited. The next morning I went right up to the aircraft to receive him.
The first sight of him was overwhelming. I’ve been a devotee of Krishna and when he alighted from the aircraft, I saw my Krishna in him. That meeting changed the course of my life. I began to feel for the first time that there was a living God guiding my footsteps. Unlike Krishna who is intangible, here was someone tangible you can look at and love. I have always been spiritually inclined. In Swami, I found the object of my spirituality.
That Dassera I went to Puttaparthi in the company of Justice Gopalswami Iyengar and his wife. Earlier, his wife had narrated an incident when she was advised to undergo an operation. She only did it after Shirdi Sai Baba appeared to her and told her that it would be safe. When we went to see Swami, the first thing he said when he saw Mrs Iyengar was: ‘‘Didn’t I tell you the operation would be successful?’’ There was no way he could have known about it.
Later we witnessed Swami perform vibhuti abhisheka over the statue of Shirdi Sai Baba. His attendant would hold the jar upside down, Swami would put his hand in it and an avalanche of vibhuti would descend over the statue. The minute he withdrew his hand, the vibhuti would stop falling although the jar continued to be upside down. It was amazing.
However, Swami’s most important contribution is his message of love and service. The course of human life is to realise the divinity within. Love and service are the two instruments for this attainment.
Although I have always had a spiritual bent of mind, his presence has given me tremendous strength and push. For instance, in the past 25 years, I have never got angry. The same divinity is in everybody. I have no right to get angry. Also, when you realise that divinity is the only thing worth attaining, all the other attachments drop. The loss of money would not hurt me, because it would be the Lord’s will.
Swami has looked after me and protected me many times. Last year, in Geneva, I was standing below a light with a shade. Suddenly the shade shattered into a hundred pieces that flew all over the room, but not one touched me. Another time, I had a swelling in my foot when I went to Puttaparthi to ring in my birthday on December 21. The hospital there diagnosed it as a fracture. When I met Swami for his blessings on the 21st, he put his hand three times on the foot. The next day the foot was almost healed and in a few days I was back to normal.
I consider Swami’s presence in my life to be a great blessing.
-As told to Suma Varughese
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