My first pilgrimage to Sathya Sai Baba was in February, 1990. I had
read The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist only two months previously
and had a great yearning to see Baba and experience him for myself.
A group of ninety were leaving at that time, so I booked to go with
I was totally stunned by my first sight of Swami. He was so beautiful,
so graceful and so full of love that I wept unashamedly. My heart
was captured and I felt without a doubt that he was who he said he
was. Everytime darshan was over, I could not bear to see him disappear
After a lovely week of darshans at Brindavan, our leader informed
us that we were going to travel on to Prasanthi Nilayam as Swami was
leaving for Madras to attend an important function.
On arrival, we were allotted flats with four sharing as the ashram
was not crowded due to Swami’s absence. A feeling of peace and tranquility
permeated the whole atmosphere and I felt a great sense of love.
It was a Thursday morning. My roommates had returned to our flat while
I remained lingering at the grocery stall to finish my drink.
I was in a state of reverie, when suddenly, I looked up and realised
that everyone had disappeared! There wasn’t a person in sight!
I couldn’t imagine what was going on so I got up to leave. However,
before I could do so, I felt a strong `pulling’ sensation in my chest
urging me to go toward the photo stall.
As I stood looking at the photos, a man appeared beside me, out of
nowhere, and began talking to the owner in his native tongue in a
rather gruff and animated fashion. He kept pointing to a particular
photograph and seemed to be giving him instructions about it.
As I gazed at this man, I realised that I hadn’t seen anyone like
him around the ashram, with his strange clothes and a kerchief tied
When I reverted my attention back to the stall owner, this `stranger’
disappeared into the blue and was nowhere to be seen! Needless to
say, I was rather dumbfounded.
The owner then asked me if I knew what this particular photo was and
when I replied that I did not, he proceeded to tell me that it was
a photo of the Atma Lingam.
He said that Swami had produced nine of these lingams from within
himself on Maha Sivarathri in February, 1968, and had given one lingam
to a devotee living in the ashram.
This was a healing-Lingam which Swami had re-energized in 1971, and
if I wished to see it, the devotee revealed its presence on Thursdays
at 11 a.m. The shop owner then gave me the building and flat number
of `said’ devotee. But as we were leaving on Saturday, this was the
only day we could see the Lingam.
I purchased a copy of the photo and dashed back to the flat to tell
my roommates what had happened.
It was then 10:45 a.m. so we hurried to the building and started to
climb the stairs. A young man was coming down and asked if we were
going up to see the Lingam. He then told us not to bother as the devotee
was ill and her son was not showing it to anyone.
We were very disappointed and turned to leave when again, I had this
`pulling’ sensation in my chest. I suggested we go up anyway and ask
A lovely gentleman answered the door, who was obviously the devotee’s
son. We asked if we could view the Lingam and I relayed what had happened
at the photo stall. He replied that his mother was very ill. However,
after studying us for some long moments, he asked our names and where
we were from.
Finally, he said we could come back at 8 p.m. if we promised not to
tell anyone else as he did not want a crowd. We were overjoyed!
That evening we were part of a small group which had gathered at the
Her son told us that we would each take a turn kneeling at the puja
altar and he would instruct us how to hold the Lingam.
As we took our turn, he asked each person their name and made an amusing
remark for each name. When it was my turn he just stared at me and
said, `very happy, very happy.’
He showed us how to hold the Lingam and then place it wherever we
had pain while we asked Swami for healing. Afterwards, he gave each
of us vibhuti and told us to `eat,’ then we drank some of the Lingam
water, and to end the ceremony, we were offered Kum-Kum for our forehead.
The Lingam was very beautiful, composed of a silvery metal, small
in shape, about a quarter-of-an-inch high. It sat in the lap of a
coiled cobra with entended hood which was also made of the same metal.
After the ceremony, we felt extremely blessed and quietly departed
most `happy’ indeed for having experienced this special Grace from
I felt especially happy to have been Swami’s guiding instrument in
bringing my roommates to see this healing Lingam as one of them had
a long-standing battle with cancer and another had a collapsed lung.
Many months later, when I felt that I could share this experience
with a few friends, I was told that the `stranger’ at the photo stall
could well have been Swami in his previous form as Shirdi Baba, and
that when everyone had `disappeared’, I had, in reality, been lifted
into another state of consciousness. Well, who can know for sure…
_ Elaine James,Dorset