By Prabhath P October 2003 For the millions of people across the globe who adore Sathya Sai Baba as the embodiment of love and as an avatar, he has come to redeem the world populated by hearts that have become arid loveless deserts ‘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 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. Why miracles? 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 you
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