Today is the 83rd birthday of Sai Baba
The many miracles of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba
We leaned towards Bhagavan or Swami (as Bhagavan is affectionately called) in 1981 seeking solace, to put it in my wife's words, 'to save us from further calamity.' Our minds were fraught with distress when my daughter, just 10 years old, was subject to what I deemed was a needless operation.
We therefore in 1981 attended weekly bajan pooja for Bhagavan at a centre at Ratmalana, few doors away from where we then lived.
It was while venerating the Bhagavan at this centre that I was rid of two ailments which I did not know existed within me.
Severe pain in my crown
Late one evening, one day in November, 1981, I felt uneasy. I had a sleepy feeling and went to bed earlier than usual. I may have fallen asleep immediately.
Much later in the night I experienced a severe pain on the crown of my head. The spot that hurt me was very tender. With the tips of my fingers I could push in to the scalp. There appeared to be no hardness of the skull.
It scared me. I looked for my wife. I soon realised I was in another room lying on my son's bed. I hurried towards Swami's picture hanging in the hall, dipped my fingers in the pot of holy ash and rubbed the ash on the spot that hurt.
The pain instantly disappeared and the spot hardened. I returned to bed greatly relieved.
The following morning I felt quite normal. No uneasy feeling but when I rinsed my mouth a hard object fell into my mouth. I spat it out. It was floating in the water, a brown clay marble like object with red, white and brown lines running all over it, like a woolen thread ball.
On explaining this to my doctor later in the day he conjectured it could be a mass forming inside my head. I did suffer from an acute pain in the head for a long period in the past and doctor surmised this to be the reason. As time passed this could have grown in size leading to much discomfort.
In my teenage years my brother and I suffered from that wretched ailment - catarrh for several years. In 1998 my brother underwent surgery for removal of a brain tumour. I believe that in 1981 Bhagavan saved me from such a discomfort. I never experienced a headache of that nature after that.
Strangely for many years thereafter at times when I breathed I felt the fragrance of jasmine pervade my senses. This phenomenon lasted till 1992.
In 1981, arrangements were being made for Bhagavan to visit Sri Lanka in his physical form.
Coughed out blood
It was during this time that I faced another strange happening. Returning home from office one evening I coughed out blood and a few days later I again coughed out blood. With it an object, like a rusted pin came to my mouth. I pressed it on my palm and it broke in two. I then recalled that way back in 1979 a fish bone got stuck in my throat. Although I thought it had passed down it had apparently got embedded in the left-side of the throat and remained there for such a long period of time.
The two incidents left in me a strong impression that we are being blessed by attending weekly bajans.
January 31, 1996 was a fatal day in Sri Lanka. A lorry laden with explosives slammed in to the Central Bank building, setting the building ablaze and bringing down several floors.
That morning I was to go to the Central Bank to convey a message from Professor Haraldsson to a mutual friend working there. When this friend and I meet, we were in the habit of conversing seated in the foyer on the ground floor of the North Tower. The explosion left this foyer in ashes and all those who were in it perished.
The 9 a.m. bus I took that morning from Kadawatha did not leave as scheduled. Idling seated in it I operated my mobile phone. I was surprised when red ants came out of the phone as I pressed the keys. I blew them away and dialed again and more ants emerged. The bus had by now left for Fort.
This variety of red ants scare me. They nimble through delicate rubber and plastic components. I was compelled to change my plans for that day.
I got off the bus at the next town, Kiribathgoda, and took a bus plying via Dematagoda and Borella to the agent's office at Baudhaloka Mawatha, Bambalapitiya.
The technicians there opened the rear of the phone and found no trace of ants. However they undertook to service it for me. As I took a seat in the office a loud explosion rented the air. The doors and windows of the office rattled. A bomb had exploded somewhere. We soon learned that it had happened in Fort, eight kilometres away.
Time calculations indicated that had I not changed plans I would have been at the bank building or its vicinity at that moment. Had my mobile phone just gone out of order I would have still proceeded to Fort first and then to the agent's office. I was blessed with Swami's grace that morning. He knew my mind and my fear for that variety of ants to be the only way to scare me off from proceeding to Fort that day.
In 1982 I was assigned to work in Galle. My family and I together with the Amendra family started the Galle bajan centre at the Amendra home. I am glad the centre is still running to good purpose. During my stay in Galle I also initiated several service projects for the needy. "Service to man is service to god," Bhagavan says.
Translating into Sinhala
In 1989 while residing in Kandy I decided to translate in to Sinhala a book written by Professor Haraldsson. He, a professor of psychiatry, together with another scientist was nominated by the American Society of Psychical Research to investigate the psychic phenomena associated with Sathya Sai Baba. Their main task was to investigate the genuinety of the numerous materialisations of gold icons, rings, necklaces etc. and fruits, often out of season, which Swami materialises with the wave of his hand.
Bhagavan had no reason to allow himself to be investigated using the odd scientific instruments he was shown. But he very courteously allowed them to closely watch him and also to meet old and new devotees and others close to him in his young days.
The two scientists followed Swami for over eight years commencing 1974, often staying with him for months at a time on the many visits they made.
In 2001 when I met the professor, who had by now put into print his investigation, I asked him what he now thinks of Swami. "Baba has very strong powers. How does he do that?" he asked me. After such extensive research the professor has still not found the answer.
Swami in his 21st year in 1947 said; "Whoever you are. However much you try, no one can comprehend my glory."
When I under took to translate this book in 1989, it was a daunting task, which however, I completed within a period of one and a half years.
I would awake as early as 3 - 3.30 am, and work till 10.30 pm daily with short breaks and an evening walk. Kandy had cold nights. On some occasions I decide to sleep till dawn and I dream I am translating the book. Then I jump off the bed. One such occasion I felt a tap on my knee. I awoke to find the face of Swami bending over me.
I requested a young lady, whom I met on official duties, to transcribe my rough draft copies which she very obligingly did, chapter by chapter. On one occasion she had left about one third of the foolscap sheet blank. I rechecked the draft to see what was omitted but it was not so. The continuation followed at the beginning of the next sheet.
Then why the blank space?
I cross checked the original English version and noted that I had not translated a paragraph.
How could you explain this phenomenon?
These happenings are indicative of Bhagavan monitoring the work and being constantly around me. Such is Bhagavan's omnipresence.
In my first dharshan in 1990 in Brindhavan under the huge banyan tree, Swami gave me a broad smile as if he had met a known face. The series of events I describe throughout this article are indicative of the divine acquaintance I and my family were privileged to enjoy.
On the same dharshan that day as Swami was passing me I felt a wave of current run down my spine which lasted till he passed me. Swami says "I give you my energy." The aura about Swami, pink in colour extends far and wide which touches his devotees.
Jai Sai Ram.
- Terence Amarasekara
The essence of Baba's teachings
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. He is omnipresent.
These words of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba convey the crux of his message to us. It is this universal message, which portrays love, for there is no path to god except through love, which is expansion, inclusion and mutualisation. The individual has to be universalised, expanded into Vishvaswarupa.
Bhagawan propagates true love that expects no rewards; he wants love that transcends the boundaries of caste, class, race, language or religion.
Let us see the vision of God in the radiant smile of the needy, the sick, the hungry, the naked and the homeless. That is his message. At this hour of distress, when this planet Earth is a precarious place to live, Bhagawan Baba, our lord, has come to redeem us, to give us hope and solace.
What is significant of Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba is that people of all faiths, of all climes, of all castes, of all classes, of all age groups rally under one umbrella and say their own respective prayers in unison. There is unity in diversity.
According to Swami, all different forms of worship of God are products of human imagination. He questions whether we can put all pervasive God in a small temple, hold a small light to God who is in all beings. He wants his devotees to move further and feel that they are divine themselves. He stresses that inner feeling is essential. He firmly believes the goodness of I, which alone shall mitigate all the misery in the world and that all are embodiments of love. He preaches that love and service is the human religion.
Swami believes that right values can be inculcated in youths through sports. Let us recall a cricket ecounter years ago. Sunil Gavaskar was the organiser. Sachin Tendulkar and Arjuna Ranatunga were the captains. The World XI team comprised four Sri Lankan players - Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sanjeeva Ranatunga; four Pakistani players - Abdul Qadir, Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar. Two players came from Bangladesh, and one from England. Representing India was the national XI. It was cricket for love and was called Sri Sathya Sai Unity Cup. Swami says "Life is a game, play it."
To say Sai Baba is a cult is a misnomer. It is a mistaken belief. It is not a cult because Swami demands devotion to his teachings. It is not a cult because Sathya Sai Organisation believes in quality not quantity. It is not a cult because study of all religions and Baba's teachings are encouraged. It is not a cult because it encourages the followers to transform themselves through selfless service to their fellow men.
It is not a cult because Baba advises; "Continue your worship of your chosen god along the lines already familiar to you." Finally, it is not a cult because Sai Baba's five human values - Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence are found in any religion.
The regular performance of Paduka Pooja at Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre in Colombo is a significant form of worship, for the divine feet signifies the underlying unity of all religions. It calls for the installation of his lotus feet in our hearts. It, really, means complete surrender at his feet.
The 83rd birthday of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba falls on November 23. The celebration of the completion of 1000 full moon days of the divine incarnations is a unique and auspicious event.
- V. Varathasuntharam