AURA OF DIVINITY
The spiritual elements connecting mankind have been regenerated again and again at crucial moments throughout history by Messiahs, Prophets and Avatars. This phenomenon of spiritual regeneration is occurring again in our time. Those with ears to hear are beginning to listen. The voice is that of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Revered by millions as a Divine Incarnation, an Avatar. While described by the London Times as "the most impressive holy man in centuries," he himself says his life is his message. He lives it openly and invites the scrutiny of those who would believe, not through blind faith, but through inquiry and reason.
The South Indian village of Puttaparthi is nestled along the Chitravardi River at the foot of a circle of barren hills, 127 miles north of Bangalore. Puttaparthi is too small to be found on any map. It is miles from the nearest highway and approachable only over unpaved roads.
The village is blessed with three temples and a mosque. Its people live their lives and farm the land much as their ancestors have done over the past centuries. At sunrise on the morning of November 23, 1926 the prayers of a simple Hindu woman were answered when she gave birth to a son. Witnesses recall untouched musical instruments resounding on their own in the house and a mysterious cobra, a traditional sign of divinity, was later found under the newborn baby’s bed. The child was named Sathya Nariahana Raju.
As he grew, it became apparent that young Sathya, whose name means "truth" in Sanskrit, was different from other children. He was helpful to the villagers doing work unselfishly. Called "Guru" by his playmates he led them in devotional songs before school and fascinated and amused them by materializing candy, pencils and playthings from an empty bag. The miraculous ability to create objects, transform matter and heal the sick, which manifested spontaneously in the child, has continued for years to amaze all who experience it.
In May of 1940, 13 year old Sathya put aside his schoolbooks and announced to his stunned family that he was the reincarnation of a holy man named Sai Baba of Shirdi. While unknown in the region of Puttaparthi, Sai Baba of Shirdi was revered in the north by Moslems and Hindus. He dressed as a Moslem but wore ash on his forehead in the Hindu custom. He slept one night in a mosque, the next in a temple. At a time and place where religious rivalries have caused wars, he achieved peace and mutual respect between the faiths by his examples. As he was dying Sai Baba of Shirdi told his followers he would reincarnate in 8 years.
Eight years later, Sathya Nariahana was born. After revealing his identity in 1940, young Sathya told his parents he belonged with them no longer. Explaining his devotees were calling and it was time for him to go. He left school in October of his 13th year and began to gather followers around him. At first there were few disciples and he lived in comparative obscurity. As more and more began to recognize his exceptional nature, he said to them. "You have easy access to me now. A few years hence, you will have to get a glimpse of me standing miles away. There will be such crowds."
The young man’s fame spread throughout the region. When Sathya reached the age of 20, his elder brother, a schoolteacher in a neighboring township, wrote him a letter expressing concern in "the dangers inherent in fame and public attention." Sathya responded to these concerns in a letter written May 25, 1947 in which he said, in part:
"My dear one,
Let me tell you it is impossible to plum the hearts and discover the natures of those who have acquired spiritual wisdom. We have to stick to our own right path, without getting affected by popular appraisal. It is not the way of the great to swell when people offer worship and shrink when the people ask for help. They themselves know the path they must tread. Their wisdom regulates and makes their acts holy. Self-reliance, beneficial actions, these too are their special marks. Why should you be affected by worry as long as you are listening to these two? After all the praise and blame of the populous do not touch the reality. They can only touch the outer physical frame.
I have a task to foster all of mankind and ensure they live lives full of bliss. I will not give up my mission nor my determination. I know I will carry them out. I treat the honor and the dishonor, the fame and blame that may be the consequence with equal equanimity. I act and move only for the sake of mankind. No one can comprehend my glory, whoever he is, whatever his methods of inquiry, however long his attempt. You can yourself see the full glory in the coming years. I have no need to write these words, I write them because I felt you would be pained if I do not reply.
So it was that in 1947, Sathya Sai Baba gave his elder brother a prophetic glimpse into the future. In the early years there was no ashram at Puttaparthi. Then in 1950 construction of a prayer hall began at the foot of the hills on the outskirts of the village. Soon other buildings were added and a name was given, Prashanthi Nilayam, the Abode of Peace. Although the prayer hall would be changed in later years, Sai Baba still lives there in the two small rooms built for him at this time. The early ashram was large enough to accommodate the increasing number of devotees who found themselves drawn to this young man. During the 1960’s as Sai Babas name spread throughout India, religious festivals regularly attracted 20-30,000 followers to this remote spot. Hindus of differing sects, Seeks, Moslems and Christians; people who remembered well the religious wars following the partition of their country by the British in 1947, less than 20 year before, now came to experience healing and unifying power of Sai Babas message of universal love. By the 1970’s people from all over the world had begun go visit Prashanthi Nilayam and it became necessary to rebuild much of the ashram to accommodate the vast numbers. Up to 100,000 on a festival day.
The personal freedom of a carefree village boy gradually had become the confinement of one without privacy. Watched constantly by devotees hoping for a look or a word, a willing captive of the love he inspired. What has intrigued observers of Sai Babas life is not only how his birth completed the prophecy of Sai Baba of Shirdi and his life has carried out the prophecy in his letter to his brother, but how his life has to a remarkable degree, also fulfilled a scriptural prophecy made more than 5000 years ago.
In the Mahabharata, the ancient Hindu testament, Lord Vishnu, the protector and preserver of the universe foretold of a Kali-yuga (the 4th cycle of 4 eras, or yugas), corresponding to our present age, which would be marked by moral and spiritual decline, by political corruption, oppression, dishonesty, crime and the prevalence of falsehood. Lord Vishnu said:
"When evil is rampant upon earth I will take birth in the family of a virtuous man and assume a human body to restore tranquillity by the extermination of evils. In the coming Kali age of sin, I will assume a human avatar form that is dark in color. I will be born in a family in South India. This avatar will possess great energy, great intellect and great powers. Material objects needed for this avatars mission will be at his disposal as soon as he will think of them. He will be victorious with the strength of virtue. He will restore order and peace in the world. This avatar will inaugurate a new era of truth and will be surrounded by spiritual people. He will roam over the earth adored by the spiritual people. The people of this Earth will imitate this avatars conduct and there will be prosperity and peace. Men will once more betake themselves to the practice of religious rights, educational centers for the cultivation of Brahmic lore and temples will reappear again everywhere. Ashrams will be filled with men of truth. Rulers of the earth will govern their kingdoms virtuously. The avatar will have an illustrious reputation."
This prophecy is corroborated in the ancient classic scripture the Vishnu Paranaha which also mentions that this avatar will display super human powers in establishing the new age of truth. It adds…"his parents will be devotes of Lord Vishnu and will reside in the village worshipping the cow herd form of Lord Krishna." In fact, Sathya’s mother and grandmother worshipped the aspect of Vishnu called Sathya Nariahana for months before he was born. And Puttaparthi village was formally Golapali, meaning "home of the cow herds." So it is that the life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba appears to be fulfilling ancient prophecies and scriptures.
The city of Bombay is India, in fact, the world in microcosm. It contains the sophistication of contemporary life over a layer of poverty and need which reflects the timelessness of the human condition. The spiritual teachings of Sathya Sai Baba are addressed with directness and simplicity to the hearts of all people. The difficulty lies not in understanding them but in putting them into practice in daily life.
In August of 1976 Sathya Sai Baba granted his first interview to a member of the press. The interviewer was R. K. Karengia, editor of a weekly magazine called "Blitz," printed in Bombay with a circulation in the millions. The circumstances surrounding the interview are important in view of the spirit of inquiry with which Sai Baba encourages everyone to come to him. Karengia was an avowed Marxist and considered himself a sophisticated Atheist with no use or regard for the spiritual traditions of his country. "Blitz" magazine reflected his attitude.
His decision to travel to South India to visit Sai Baba, was the result of a challenge by a college who confronted Karengia with the fact that it was inconsistent to consider himself an objective reporter, when he had formed his opinions about Sathya Sai Baba without ever have seen him or met him. Karengia agreed and made plans to go to Sai Babas ashram. During the course of his visit, he was granted an interview. Later he wrote…
"Baba not only radiated powerful emanations of what I can only describe as spiritual love and grace, but went on to amaze me with knowledge of the most intimate developments affecting my life and work. He appeared to also know beforehand the questions I had planned to ask. As soon as I began asking one, he would stop me with a gentle tap on the knee to begin answering it. I never completed a question. Still I got all the answers."
This experience convinced Karengia of the truth of Babas words and inspired profound changes in his life. Much of the following narration has been drawn from Sai Babas responses during that interview.
"God is man and man is God. All of us have something of God, the divine spark within us. All men are divine, like myself, but with a spirit embodied in human flesh and bone. The only difference is that they are unaware of this Godhood. They have come in this karmic prison through the mistakes of many lives. I have taken this mortal form out of my own free will. They are bound to the body while I am free of this bondage. The main difference is that they are shoved hither and thither by desire, but I have no desire except the Supreme one, to make them desireless. Whenever strife, discord, and disharmony overwhelm the world, God incarnates in human form to show mankind the way to love, harmony and peace. The avatar takes a human form and behaves in a human way so that humanity can feel kinship with divinity. At the same time he rises to Godly heights so that mankind also can aspire to reach God.
The realization of the indwelling God as the motivator of life is the task for which avatars come in human form. Therefore in my present avatar I have come armed with the fullness of the power of the formless God to correct mankind, raise human consciousness and put people back on the right path of truth, righteousness, peace and love, to divinity. The vibhuti ash I materialize is a manifestation of divinity with a potent significance as well as symbolization. It is symbolic of the cosmic immortal and infinite nature of all forms of God, Atman or the spirit. That is, all that is left when everything worldly, transient and changeable has burnt away. In the first place it is symbolic of the life/death cycle in which everything ultimately reduces itself to ash. For dust thou art and unto dust shall thou shall returneth. Ash or dust is the final condition of things. It cannot undergo any further change. In the spiritual context, vibhuti constitutes a warning to the receiver to give up desire, burn all passions, attachments and temptations in the fires of worship which make one pure in thought word and deed.
It is in order to press home this lesson I materialize ash for those that come to me with love and devotion. Like the other materialization’s it also acts as a talisman, healing the sick and giving protection to those who need it. It is a symbol of divinity, quite different from magic tricks. My powers to protect, heal, save people and materialize objects originate in God and can be used only by an avatar."
An avatar is known by 16 signs. The first 15 are: control of the 5 functions of the body, control of the 5 senses of the body. and control of the 5 elements of nature. These qualities are attainable through spiritual practices and disciplines. It is the 16th quality, unattainable through human evolution and existing only in the dissent of a divine incarnation, which brings Sathya Sai Babas miraculous powers into perspective. Called omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, it is infinite consciousness. Einstein recognized the law in nature which said, "Energy equal matter multiplied by the square root of the speed of light." Thus science proved the ancient Yogic precept that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin. And it began to recognize matter as condensed energy moving along a continuum of constantly changing form. The transformation of matter to energy and energy into matter occurs at the speed of light in the realm of light, that same light which has been perceived throughout time, in all religions, as divine energy.
An avatar is able to materialize and dematerialize objects, to direct his awareness throughout the cosmos, to move with the speed of light and to use the power of light in his mission. Unencumbered by demands of the body or laws of nature, his consciousness is at one with the primal energy of creation and is therefore infinite. To one with infinite consciousness, free even from space and time, what may appear to us as miraculous is the simple interplay of primary forces.
"The miracles I perform belong to the boundless power of God, so far as I am concerned they are evidence of my divinity. It is not by any means an exhibition of divinity. All performances of magic, as you know, are done for the sake of income. These are tricks of the magician’s trade. That constitutes a kind of legalized cheating, the transfer of an object from one place to another, the trick of the hand which goes unnoticed. They involve no Siddhi (deep, spiritual practice) or miraculous power. What I do is quite a different act of creation. It is neither magic, nor is it Siddhi power either. For one thing I seek no return. For another I do not cheat people by transferring objects, but I create them. Again I do so not because of any need or desire of exhibition of my powers. For me this is a kind of visiting card to convince people of my love for them and to secure their devotion in return. Since love is formless, I use materialization as evidence of my love. It is merely a symbol. Most people desire talismans symbolic of my protection, so I provide them. When they are in trouble, they feel the grip of the ring, bracelet or watch to remember me and call to me to their rescue so that I can help them. On the other hand if I give them something they can not wear, they are likely to store it and forget about it. These trinkets or talismans give people a sense of security or protection they need in a time of trouble or crisis. And create a symbolic link covering the long distances between them and myself. When the devotes need me, these objects flash the message, as if by wireless, and I instantly come to their rescue.
I can cure, save, even rescue people providing they are in a spiritually receptive condition. It is like the positive and negative currents of electricity. My capacity to heal can be compared to the positive current. Your devotion to me is the negative current. Once the two come together, the devotion provides what is called the miracle of healing. It is mans mind that is really responsible for his illness or health. He himself is the cause, or motivator, of either. So when it comes to healing or curing, the necessary faith has to be created within his mind for the purpose, all I do is invest him with the confidence, will and power to cure himself. It is my abounding love reciprocated by the intensity of the devotes faith in me that produces the desired result.
The Godliness which is present in every body, in the form of a little spark, exists within me as the full flame. It is my mission to develop every little spark of God in everyone to the fullness of the divine flame. The first imperative of this development is that the receiver of the grace also provides from his or her side, the devotion necessary to the consummation. Those who carry the presence of Baba in their heart like an indwelling God, belong to this kind of devotee. They come to me, see me, and hear me, experience my love for them and receive it with devotion. Thus they become part of me and my divinity. To the doubting or confused ones, I give this illustration. Those that which to secure pearls from the sea have to dive deep to fetch them. It does not help them to dabble among the shallow waves near the shore and say that the seas have no pearls and that the stories about them are false. Likewise, if a person wants to secure the love and grace of this avatar, he must also dive deep and get submerged in Sai Baba, then and only then will he become one with me and carry me in his inner most heart.
Today evil is so widespread that humanity itself would be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust in the event of a world war. It is to prevent such a catastrophe that this avatar has come to raise human consciousness and save the world from disaster. There are two ways in which an avatar can help people avert collimates, an instant solution as against a long-term one. An instant solution would go against the fundamental quality of nature itself as well as the karmic law of cause and effect. Most people live in the material world of their ego and desire, which is governed by this law. They reap the fruits of their actions. This brings about their evolution or de-evolution. If the avatar intervenes to instantly solve their problems it would stop all action, developments, even evolution. This solution can be ruled out because it totally negates the natural laws.
The other more effect alternative presents a long-term solution where the avatar leads the people themselves to a higher level of consciousness to enable them to understand the truth of spiritual laws. This will relate them back to nature and the karmic law of causation. They will then transcend the cycle of cause and effect, in which today they are involved as victims, and thereby command and control the natural forces to be able to avert collimates like earthquakes, flood, droughts, famine and epidemics. If the avatar brings collimates to an immediate end, which and I can and do when there is a great need, the whole drama of creation with its karmic law will collapse. These collimates occur not because of what God has made of man, but really because of what man has made of man. Therefore man has to be unmade and remade with his ego destroyed and replaced by a transcendent consciousness so that he may rise above the karmic cycle to command nature and avert its collimates. This is the work of the avatar, which I am presently doing."
Wherever Sathya Sai Baba goes, he is followed by the sound of devotional songs called budgins. He says that in our time, chanting the name of God is the surest way to control the vagaries of the mind and doing so diminishes the pull of ego and strengthens spiritual resolve. The key words of budgins are mantras, Sanskrit names of God used in ancient names and told of in the scriptures, which had power to concretize their meanings. Chanting a mantra created a vibration, which attracted it’s corresponding condition. Thus, singing in praise of Divinity in whatever form or aspect, brings the human consciousness closer to an actual experience of that Divine Awareness. On special occasions Sai Baba, himself, leads the signing.
Each year a traditional 9 day festival called Dasarah is observed throughout India and at Prashanthi Nilayam. Sai Baba has said his miracles do not have great intrinsic values in themselves but the experience of them shakes people, awakening them from complacency and turning them to the spiritual life. Perhaps the most dramatic of the miracles is the Vibhuti Avusakum, the manifestation of vibhuti on a large scale, which takes place during Dasarah.
(The following paragraph is spoken by R. K. Karengia. While he speaks, scenes are shown of exactly what he is describing. The idol mentioned is approximately 3 feet tall.)
"After the morning ceremony, crowds gather to the auditorium then Baba spoke on the significance of the Vibhuti Avushakum. This follows the usual pattern on such occasions familiar to the devotees. The silver idol of Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Babas previous incarnation, was bathed and wiped dry. A jeweled necklace was produced by Baba by the wave of his hand. The wooden vessel in the shape of a flower vase was held upside down overhead. Baba started churning this thing with his hand inserted into it, throwing out large quantities of vibhuti, pouring from nowhere as it were and covering the idol with an exquisite franken. When Baba took out his hand from the upturned vase for a short while, low and behold, the vibhuti stopped pouring down as thought to convince the spectators that the empty vessel needed the Divine hand for it to produce the vibhuti. The flow that seems capable of being unending, starts all over again as soon as Baba puts his hand into the vase. It is on such occasion that logic fails us, in the confusion not realizing that he who can produce the vibhuti at will out of an empty vessel, can also stop it at will. We begin to wonder more when the flow stops and when it resumes."
Vibhuti can be found materializing from photos of Shirdi Sai Baba and Sathya Sai Baba in homes of devotees in India and other parts of the world. In the budgin room of Mr. Krupana in Bangalore, many photos have been shedding vibhuti for over a decade. Mr. Krupana comments on this phenomenon:
"Yes, I am a devote of Baba. I live here with my wife. My cousins family lives here. There is nothing special about this house. Where ever I am, I carry pictures of Sai Baba. Where ever I go, the vibhuti starts in the pictures I hold. Everyone can see. Many people have seen ashes falling. It’s meant only for distribution, not for stocking. We give away everything. A pinch of vibhuti in a half glass of water is medicine for any diseases. The main thing is faith. You must have faith in the vibhuti. You must have faith in Baba, then it does cure all diseases."
Following two trips to India to observe and document Sai Baba’s miracles, Dr. Carolos Osis of the American Society for Psychical Research wrote:
"I have been an active researcher for 25 years and have traveled widely and no where have I found phenomenon which points so clearly and forcibly to spiritual reality as do the daily miracles around Baba."
Even so, the question of Sai Baba’s relationship to science continues to be raised. In the press interview with R.K. Carengia, Sai Baba spoke to that question.
"The formula that nothing can be created out of nothing is appropriate to the limited field and dimension of science. It does not at all apply to the transcendental field and dimension of spirituality. In the latter field anything can be created by the Supreme Will. All that exists can be made to disappear and what does not exist can be made to appear."
When asked how the universe was created, Sai Baba speaking in the context of the Eternal Divine Principle, said:
"There was no one to know who I am until I created the universe at my pleasure with one word. Immediately, mountains rose up. Immediately rivers started running. Earth below and sky overhead. Oceans, seas, lands and watersheds, sun, moon, desert sands, sprang up from nowhere to prove my existence. Then came all forms of human beings, beasts and birds, hearing, speaking and flying. The first place was granted to mankind and my knowledge was placed in his mind."
Most scientists who study the structure and evolution of the universe agree that the spiritual accounts of creation in imagining an initial void may be uncannily close to the truth. They believe the universe is the expanding remnant of a huge fireball which was created 20 billion years ago by the explosion of space itself.
All our scriptures assert that God is present in everyone. The only thing that is manifest and common to the whole world and in fact governs and directs the entire universe is Divinity. Nothing else really exists, except Divinity. For these planets and stars to keep to their paths so strictly and not move even a little from the orbit that that has been given to them, in order to do that there must be some sacred divine strength behind all this.
15 miles east from the city of Bangalore, on the railway line to Madras, lies Whitefield where Sai Baba has a residence called Brindavan. Here at Brindavan, Sai Baba walks daily among those who gather on the grounds of the compound as he gives darshan. Translated as "the site and presence of a holy man," this constant accessibility is a welcome surprise to those who come expecting such a towering figure of spirituality to be remote and somehow unapproachable.
While accepting letters asking for help and guidance, both physical and spiritual, he emphasizes repeatedly that he wants nothing from them but love. By a gentle wave of his hand Sai Baba materializes vibhuti giving it as a blessing and for healing. Sai Baba says:
"Come to me with empty hands and I shall fill them with gifts and grace. If your hands are full, what am I to fill them with? Bring to me all the evil in you and leaving that here, take from me what I have, love. Learn the capacity to see all as moved and motivated by one supreme God. Why fear when I am here? All your sins are forgiven the moment you get my darshan. I shall carry all your burdens. Take as much bliss as you can from me and leave with me all your sorrows."
Adjacent to the residence is the Sathya Sai College of Science, Arts and Commerce for men. It is here that the nationwide education program begun in the late 1960’s is flourishing. The construction of these schools and colleges is financed by a central educational trust established through the State Bank of India, which accepts contributions solely for this purpose. This college is the nucleus of a growing number of educational facilities throughout the country. In the years since opening, the Sai colleges have come to be acknowledged among India’s finest. The students regularly rank predominately in the yearly national achievement exams. Sai Babas educational program is for future citizens who will live not as monastics or hermits, but as householders, conducting the affairs of the world. Sai Baba sees the future of India tied to a renaissance in education. Much of his time has been devoted to the establishment of elementary schools and colleges.
(Sai Baba): "These students will be able to take their places as future leaders of India, equipped to bring India’s masses out of poverty and disease. The character of the children must be made strong and pure. Give them all the confidence they need to become good, honest, self-reliant children. It is not enough that they learn something by which the can make a living. The manner of living is more important than the standard of living."
At the inauguration of the College of Arts and Science for women at Anandapour in 1971, Sai Baba said:
"This is a college, an institution that imparts education and prepares the rising generation to be better women and better citizens. Education must open the eyes and enable them to recognize the one behind the many. When that one is known, the many can be known easily and clearly. Pursue the vast, the cosmic, the all inclusive truth. Do not be satisfied with paltry, trivial scraps of information. Seek the knower behind the knowing process. That is the real victory."
While speaking to a group of students visiting the ashram Baba said:
"You must learn to become a new type of leader who has passed through the crucible of service as a devotion, as a spiritual practice. Leaders who have passed through schools and college and mastered the problems of the present and the future in the light of the past, leaders who appreciate the traditions and culture of this country. Education aims, among other things, at giving instruction in the laws and properties of matter. It must also train the student in a thorough understanding of the laws and constituents of the human personality and promote his power of discrimination. Education is no education unless it extracts the milk of human kindness, kinship and brotherhood and makes for a universal diffusion of this feeling.
Administering at this same time an intensive as well as extensive knowledge of the true nature of man and the human society. Education should also be useful to men and women in their daily lives. A well disciplined and integrated life on the part of students can alone save them and the society from ruin. There is no other remedy. The process of education has become a trade, which results in politics without principle, education without character, science without humanity, and commerce without morality, which are useless and positively dangerous.
A regular course in the discipline of meditation must also be given so that you may realize the depths of your own personality and its infinite possibilities for ensuring peace and happiness. You must be able to withdraw into yourself and meditate on your own true nature and the truth of that nature. It is the right of every seeker from every land, that is the wealth that will really save man from misery. All the rest are mere shadows, mirages, castles in the air. They drop with the body that valued them."
Sai Baba often presides over the marriage ceremonies of devotees. He materializes from his hand the sacred symbolic thread as part of the ceremony:
"Before getting married, each of your love was separate, now all of your love will come together and blossom for the better. Marriage means your life, not just a few days, weeks or years. God has created this union of marriage. It is for self-control that two individuals get married. It is to kill the ego that two souls are brought together so they can learn to adjust to one another and forget their egos. The most important thing is understanding, then adjustment becomes something very easy later on. Both of you have got to understand each other. Do not think in the past, live in the moment and do ones best. This is a sacred bond and it is a promise that you are making to each other because the wife is half of the husband and the husband is half of the wife. Half plus half is not two, but one. Before marriage you were an individual "I", now you are not "I", but "we." In all difficulties, all joy, all sorrow and all the pleasures of life, you are not individualized. Now "I" plus "I" becomes "we". We, this is the real sacred promise. Today there is the tendency of separation, not coming together. Life is full of troubles and challenges. You should not separate because of that but rather face them together. Now when trouble comes, even if it is small trouble, it causes separation. That should not be the tendency. One should adjust. This is giving ones heart to the other."
Sai Baba repeatedly emphasizes the unity underlying the religions of the world:
"Let the different faiths exist. Let them flourish. Let the glory of God be sung in all the languages in a variety of tunes. That should be the ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid so far as they do not extinguish the flame of unity. I have not come to speak on behalf of any particular religion. I have not come on any mission of publicity for any sect or creed or cause. Nor have I have come to collect followers for any doctrine. I have to come to tell you of this universal unitary faith, this path of love, this duty of love, this obligation to love."
In the West, India is believed to have many Gods, while in fact the Vedanta acknowledges one God with limitless attributes. The qualities when singled out for reverence or praise, are given individual names and forms, nevertheless they are still part of the one boundless God. There is Vishnu, the Lord as preserver and protector, who is all pervading, who incarnates in succeeding ages to protect the righteous and uplift the fallen. Also Shiva, the aspect of God in the engaged in the emergence, disintegration and destruction of the universe. He who signifies auspiciousness, happiness and prosperity.
"There is only one God and he is omnipresent, but to concentrate on the omnipresent, some fixed point or preliminary form is needed, and to conceive of the Divine as present everywhere, at all times, the mind of man is clarified and purified by means of certain psychological processes called sadhanas. This is the reason why not only among the followers of Hinduism but even among Christians, regular rituals are prescribed for the worship of images of God. Cynics question the validity of the type of adoration they say it will only confirm faith in a superstition. "Can God be a stone or a piece of paper?" they ask. This attitude is not correct. By adhering to the traditionally laid down worship many aspirants have obtained the vision of the omnipresent and stay in that incommunicable bliss. The omnipresent is not absent in the icon or the picture. We do not reduce God and shut him up in a stone image. We affirm and realize that he is in the icon also. We raise the image to the dimensions of the absolute, we expand the picture far beyond its frame and through the process of sadhana, we become aware that the picture too can be made a tool for the mind to escape from it’s limitations."
The birth of Christ is another holy day that is celebrated at Sai Babas residence, illuminating his teaching that "Truth is one" and all faiths are facets of that truth. Christianity and Hinduism share the imagery of the Lord tending his human flock. Jesus Christ as the herder of the sheep of Israel and Lord Krishna as the cow-herd boy of Brindavan. It was during one such Christmas celebration that Sai Baba spoke about Christ.
"Jesus was a master born for a purpose, with a mission of restoring love and charity. He had no attachment to the self. He never paid head to sorrow, or pain, joy or gain. He responded to the call of anguish, peace and brotherhood. He went about the land preaching the lesson of love and poured out his life in the libation in the sacrifice to humanity. He searched for the Divine in the objective world in nature but he soon released that nature is a kaleidoscope picture created by ones own imagination and sought God within himself. Here in India, his stay in the Himalayan monasteries brought him greater success. From the attitude of being a messenger of God, he declared that he was the son of God. Later as the Atman consciousness became stabilized, Jesus could declare ‘I and my father are one.’"
(The Atman is the Hindu term for "our Self, expressed as our soul or ego.")
Physical objects manifested by Sai Baba frequently represent the religion or belief of the recipient. Dr. John Hispla, head of the Sathya Sai Council of the Americas, relates a unique experience when Sai Baba created a unique crucifix and presented it to him.
"We were in India in the Vandehar forest at the time of Marah Shivaatre and the swami was driving around through the forest with several people to locate a place where the ceremony could be held and we finally found a dry river bottom. That evening, we all came back again got out of the cars and started to walk down the slope of the hill toward the dry river bottom. I happen to be walking beside swami and we passed a small bush. Swami picked off two twigs and held them in the form of a cross and said "Hispla, what is that?" I said "Well swami, it’s a cross." He then put the two twigs in the palm of his hands and blew three times on his hand. When he opened his hands, there was this cross. He said this is Christ as he really and truly was, not as artists and historians have pictured him. (A picture of this cross is shown and on it is an image of a frail, gaunt Jesus nailed to the cross.) His stomach is all drawn in through several days of no food and so on. So I looked at it and I said "So Swami, what is that hole at the top of the cross?" He said "That is the hole that was made in the cross to hang the cross on a standard." And he said "Furthermore, the wood of the cross is a piece of the actual cross upon which Christ was crucified. Then he added "I can tell you, it took a little time and trouble to find a piece of that wood after some 2000 years."
"Life without desire brings divinity to man and those who seek my grace must shed desire and greed. Riches provide a fatal temptation. They are the source and cause of human bondage. The desire to raise the standard of life can never be satisfied. It leads to multiplication of wants and consequent troubles and frustrations. Life without desire means the realization of the pure, genuine self that is the soul. Bound to desire, the self degenerates into selfishness. The soul turns into ego. The way to self-realization is to cleanse the self of this ego of selfishness. Then you reach a state of consciousness beyond the mind or intellect, revealing the true self that is God. The mind is like a cloth that covers and stifles consciousness, the threads of which are desires. If we give up the desires, the threads fall and the cloth disappears revealing our true nature. This is what the Vedanta means when it enjoins "One must get rid of the ego to realize oneself." One has therefore to rise beyond the mind to consciousness to achieve self-realization. To gain the infinite, universal soul, the embodied self must break out of the puny, finite little prison individuality. Desire belongs to the senses, the brain, the mind. Once you become free of it you realize the self, Atman, consciousness, enlightenment and become one with the cosmic power. Self-realization is God realization, thus man reaches God.
Those who want to understand me are welcome here. It is the spirit of the investigation that is important. I do not call people here so they may bow to a God. I want them to come, see, hear, study, observe, experience and realize Baba, then only will they understand me and appreciate the avatar."
Not only has Sathya Sai Baba prophesied the course and duration of his life, he has said that just as he was born 8 years after the death of Shirdi Sai Baba, so his third incarnation, called Prema Sai, will be born 8 years after his own passing.
"The previous avatar, Shirdi Sai laid the base for secular integration and gave mankind the message of duty that is work. The mission of the present avatar is to make everyone realize that since the same God or divinity resides in everyone, people should respect, love and help each other irrespectful of cast, color or creed. Thus every work can become an act of worship. Finally, Prema Sai, the third avatar shall promote the message that not only does God reside in everyone, but that everyone himself is God. That will be the final wisdom which will enable every man and woman to rise to be God.
In all the universe, there is no other planet that has human life or a similar life form. Human life is very sacred and must be appreciated as having the highest value. All life may aspire to human birth but only through the human birth may God be realized. Here and now is the opportunity to realize the absolute goal of life. The purpose of this triple incarnation is to unite all mankind into one family with the establishment of the divinity. That is the Atmic reality in every man and woman, which is the basis on which the entire cosmic design rests. Once this is realized, the common divine heritage that binds man to man and man to God will become apparent and Love shall prevail as the guiding light of the universe."
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