One of my stories from the past.
Sai Baba stands for the unity of humankind, a unity that rests in the divine and in which he himself, is of the divine soul. He does not teach by discourses alone. He often gives guidance to devotees through other means, most of which is silent. He can for example make you sit down next to someone who is quite different from you. For example an old, toothless village woman, whose worn and wrinkled face has been scorched by the sun, who has rarely had a wash, who has known starvation and many other difficulties, and in some strange way Sai can make your body take on all of the feelings of the old woman. Or he can make a devotee, say one who prizes his intellect, go through a crucible until he or she sees that intellectual arrogance and a haughty attitude is quite childish and hollow, when faced with something altogether greater.
He can also take on different forms to drive lessons home to devotees about the unity of divinity. This brings me to an experience I had many years ago while on a prolonged visit to Prashanti Nilayam Ashram.
“One afternoon while waiting in line for a token number for darshan, out of nowhere a tiny, old and wrinkled Indian lady dressed in a thin white sari, came and sat behind me in my token line row. Her sparse greying hair was sharply pulled back into an untidy hair bun, giving her a wizardly appearance. I couldn’t help noticing she seems somewhat out of place there in the heavily European lines.
Then a surprise – she unexpectedly tapped me hard on my shoulder, I immediately turned around. The little old lady wanted to talk. “Our number is 30 – last line.” She muttered in perfect English.
“Oh! No!”, I responded, “It can’t be!” “Yes, yes, last line, last line.” She said again.
I pondered on how she could possibly know what number we had for we were seated near the end of our row, where we could not possibly know what number we’d drawn.
Another tap on my shoulder, “Photographs, you have photographs,” she said, while pointing to my handbag. “No, no,” I replied, “I don’t have photographs.” “Yes you do!” she insisted. “They are in your handbag. You look!”
I grudgingly glanced into my handbag and, yes, there hidden at the bottom, were four small photos; a selection I had bought that very morning. I didn’t want to show them to her but the old lady insisted. I handed her a small photograph of Swami seated in his chair. She smiled, took the photo, then began to kiss and talk to it fondly.
I sat watching her with slight amusement, marvelling at how she knew about the photos. I asked if she would like to keep the one she was kissing, she answered no then gave it back.. I urged her again to keep the photo but she wouldn’t accept it.
The strange conversation with the `all knowing lady’ continued until our line stood and moved into the darshan compound. While walking quickly along, I glanced over my shoulder to see if the old lady was still there but she had disappeared. I continued to look for her duringd darshan but she was not to be seen asnywhere.
Remarkably, that afternoon I received a wonderful darshan. When Swami passed by, he looked over and smiled ‘knowingly’. It was such a cheeky smile.
Finally in a recent story told by a prominent devotee, when seated on the verandah, he often felt the feelings of those around him. This is not unusal as my story describes. Another way of Sai teaching lessons to those who need to learn. 🙂