A Silent Lesson – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

Shirdi Sai - a rare photo

A Silent Lesson

Teachings are given in many different ways by Sai Baba. He often  ‘disguises’ his teaching lessons by changing his personal form,  from beloved Sai to one we do not know! I have had this happen to me on 4-5 occassions. The ‘other’ ‘forms’ of Sai, are often strange or outlandish characters that one would not normally know or speak to. These characters appear to know everything about us. I find these experiences to be the most delightful of all the teaching experiences Sai gives.

SathyaSai Memories


My Dutch friend and I were sitting together one morning in the old darshan area,   the time –  between darshan and bhajans. We both had our purses. They were allowed back then.

I  remember the experience clearly because it was a few days before my flight home. I had been clearing out my room in the ashram, given away my entire collection of Swami photos and posters. I had one more photo in my purse and a packet of vibuthi that I decided should go to my friend. Although I loved being with Swami, I did not see him as my guru, nor did I want to keep photos or vibuthi or any form of attachment to him.

My friend was reluctant to take the vibuthi and the photograph but as I insisted, she took them and put them away into her purse.

Bhajans began and the old mandir- darhsan area, filled with an enormous crowd of ladies.  At the end of the bhajans, Swami came out and blessed everyone, then if I remember correctly, he returned to his upstairs room in the temple. As soon as the signal was given for us to rise and leave the darshan area, the ladies rose altogether and scrambled to leave by the main gate. The  horrendous rush caused chaos outside the gate. It was difficult to pass through without bumping into everyone…..

Once outside of the gate, a little old lady dressed in white approached. She tugged at my arm, and when I tried to loosen myself, she grabbed my hand, placing a small photograph of Shirdi Sai Baba into my palm.

“You keep this,” she said.

I turned to her and motioned that I did not want a photograph. She looked at me in a pained way but insisted I keep it. I remember her closing my fingers around the little photograph with much love. She gave me a beatific smile and disappeared back into the crowd.

I stood for a moment or two examining the photograph. When I turned it over, there was an interesting message on the other side.

“Look at me whole-heartedly and I, in turn, look at you similarly. Sitting in this Masjid, I speak the truth nothing but the truth. No Sadhanas, nor proficiency in the six Shastras are necessary. Have faith and confidence in your Guru. Believe fully, that Guru is the sole Actor and Doer. Blessed is he who knows the greatness of his Guru and thinks him to Be Hari. (God).”

What a surprise to read such a  message and what shocked me more was the photo of Shirdi Sai. The lady seemed to know how I felt and, by giving me the photo, she’d indicated my lack of faith in Swami. This had to be clearly the case, for the message on the backside of the photo also seemed to be telling me as much. It  most likely was an  indirect message from Swami himself.

Some years later I found the very same message in the Shri Sai Satcharita on page 98. The message is incorporated in the story of one, Mrs. Radhabai Deshamukh, who visited Shirdi to be with Sai Baba. She wanted Shirdi Sai to give her a mantra but he would not – and Shirdi Sai tells her during a long discussion how he himself, was not given a mantra only the unabated love of his guru.



Shirdi Sai photo – courtesy of The Internet.

The above picture was contributed by Sai Devotee Vengalam Praveen Reddy at the University of Dallas, USA.

The picture is claimed to have been sketched/taken the day before Baba’s samadhi though there is no supporting material.

Says Praveen,

“I could get this picture accidently when some one gave the picture for development in some picture lab and I was there when the person came to collect it. I requested and got a copy of that.”