Sri Anil V Gokak, a retired Officer of the Indian Administrative Service (Maharashtra cadre), is the Vice Chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. He had held important positions in the Government of Maharashtra and later in the Government of India in various capacities such as Secretary, Department of Telecommunications; Secretary, Department of Fertilizers.

1. My wife and I saw Baba for the first time in August 1969; we had accompanied our parents: Baba materialized a beautiful necklace for my wife and asked her to wear it; He said that He had performed our marriage afresh and gave the necklace as a present to mark the occasion! Then He materialized a big apple and asked my wife to eat it! My wife had a most thrilling experience.

2. One day, when my father had come to Mumbai, he told me how Baba compared His miracles to visiting cards, and that the miracles are only an introduction to Him. Then, around the year 1973, there was a fierce controversy on whether Baba was God or not. When some of the rationalists asked Baba whether He was God, He said, "I am God, you are also God. The only difference between you and Me is, I am aware of My Divinity, whereas you are not."

3. My mother was extremely unwell and my wife and I came down from New Delhi to Bangalore to look after her. She was suffering from severe pleurisy and the doctors had, on the basis of X-ray reports, opined that she would survive only for three months. When the subject was broached with Baba, He gave her vibhuti and said that everything would be all right, and that no operation would be necessary. When the X-ray was taken again, the doctors said that the danger was no longer there. My mother lived for 18 long years thereafter!

'I Give You What You Want'

4. The second stage of my understanding of Baba is related to the statement that Baba makes very often. He says that He gives us what we want; so that we may want what He has come to I give us. I started pondering over the significance of the pronouncement.

From the year 1990 onwards, a new dimension appeared in my perception and understanding of Baba as Lokanath when Bhagavan Baba undertook massive projects such as the Sri Sathya Sai Super-specialty Hospital to cater to the medical needs of the people in rural areas, and the Drinking Water Supply Project for the drought prone region of Anantapur District. Baba extended the scope of the water supply project and has covered Mahaboobnagar and Medak Districts and also Chennai City under similar schemes. East Godavari and West Godavari Districts are also being covered under similar schemes now. Such schemes have not been taken up on such a large scale by any Non-Governmental Organisations in the country.

The compassion shown by Baba to the poor is unparalleled. This made me feel that Baba had come to serve Daridranarayana, the poorest of the poor.

5. He translates His ideas into action by setting an example. Like a magnet He attracts people belonging to different faiths from different parts of the World. His is the philosophy of pluralism based on equal respect for all religions as exemplified in the Sarva Dharma emblem. He wants all to follow their own religions and makes them better Hindus, better Christians, better Muslims, better Jews, better Buddhists, and better Jains.

I understood much better the significance of His message:

There is only one caste, the caste of humanity; there is only one religion, the religion of love; there is only one language, the language of the heart; and there is only one God, He is omnipresent.