Good Thoughts and Good Deeds – Early Devotees

swamioneone

Here are a few writings from Charles Penn who visited Sai Baba in the 1960’s. First we have an introduction from Mr. Bozzani who knew The Penn’s and spent time in retreat with them. Then we have several wonderful reflections to pass on to our readers. I hope you enjoy the collection of writings of Charles Penn from that time….

Bozzani
Robert Bozzani

“Charles and Faith Penn were among the most wonderful people I met. I got to know them because they would come to the Sai get-togethers when we would have retreats and conferences. And all they would talk about was Love. They would have a meditation, and then they would get up and talk about the Love of Sathya Sai Baba and the poor.”

“I still remember distinctly, that first time at the retreat. I was very disturbed. I said, ‘What is this talk about love? Let’s get to work and make the changes necessary!’ I really laugh at myself when I think of it now, because I’ve understood over the years that it was the Penns’ message which was the most important of all! Understanding that message of Love was crucial to the perception and implementation of Baba’s teachings. In fact, Charles Penn was really the first in the United States to introduce Sathya Sai Baba to the United States, because he had come to Swami as early as 1969.”

– Mr. Robert A. Bozzani

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From the writings of Charles Penn’s book My Beloved

“After reading Sathya Sai Baba’s lifestory and thinking long and deeply about it, I decided to write to Sathya Sai Baba. Imagine my joy in receiving a letter from him directly in response to mine – the letter dated 16 July, 1965 and read in part – ”

Charles Penn
Charles Penn

“Dear Charles

Your letter, good thoughts, good deeds, always yield good fruits. Prayers are always answered – that is the rule. Your earnestness to help all those you meet, your activities, your interest in meditation and mind control have borne fruit. This contact is evidence of it.

The guru need not always come in an actual concrete form. He can prompt the higher impulses and urges through a friend, or a book or an event, which reveals the reality in a flash.  After this awakening, the rest is mostly in the hands of the aspirant. The guru can, at best, watch and guide. Do not get agitated or lose heart. You will be guided. However far you may be, geographically, I am as near to you as you are near to me dear Charles, in your sadhana and you can certainly attain shanthi.

You can prepare the edition of the book, for the american and english readers, whom you desire to serve. Whatever is done with sincere faith has my blessings. You can also keep up this correspondence. This proposal has been blessed, and it can be taken up.

Inform your sadhaka friends that i am with them. When the name is evoked, the name and the form are inseparable. This is the meaning of presence.

With blessings to you,

– Sri Sathya Sai Baba ”

FINDING GOD

My Journey to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba by Charles Penn

This is the autobiographical account of a devotee of 25 years, who also authored My Beloved and Sai Ram. Here, he relates his lifelong search for God and his road to Sathya Sai Baba. Swami guided the writer through the process of creating this book, and it is studded with many thought-provoking messages from Swami, as well as moving personal stories, such as the time Swami saved Penn from a 20-foot shark and the time Swami miraculously healed one of the author’s co-workers. Perhaps the book is best described by the eloquent title of the final chapter, ‘Yearning for God’s Grace’ – the source of our extract above.


The Night of Sai-lence, A Meditation – Early Devotees

This is delightful and a very special piece, a sort of xmas piece… and here is a Baba xmas photo to go with this.

Swami, Christmas, 2003

I am, at the moment, writing from Bangalore, while taking a small break from my ashram routine in Puttaparthi. Would like to pass on to you all, that the mandir is quite wonderous. The vibes are peaceful and Baba’s vitality is still very much evident there. Morning bhajans, together with the vedas, brings much calm and healing to all those who gather. I am quite amazed as to how much more I enjoy the mandir now that the crowds are gone and the old circus-like atmosphere time has passed. Now we have, at last, many more mediators and others who come here just to be close to Baba on a non physical level. He did say, years ago, that ‘first the brown monkeys will come, then the red monkeys will come, then the worldly people, and lastly the spiritual people. I feel his prophecy in that regard is now complete.

I’ve found or rather re- found the writings of Charles Penn, who was an early devotee of Baba’s. Must say i am enjoying re-reading his meditation’s and have decided to post several here on the blog for those people who cannot visit Puttaparthi or buy the book. I am not even sure the book is still in print.

Charles Penn

This small piece is called “The Night of Sai-lence” – a very poetic piece written sometime in the 1960’s. As an early devotee, Charles Penn enjoyed a closeness to Baba that most of us could only dream of. This ‘writing’ comes from his book “My Beloved“.

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The Night of Sai-lence – A Meditation

The lord’s divine temple in the heavens has existed in all of its’ majesty since the beginning of time.

Light from myriads of diamonds in all their brilliance brighten His sky where His lustrous pearl mirrors His gold orb. All are held together by His eternal night of Sailence, His kingdom, so vast, so splendid.god

Within His kingdom lives gods and goddesses created through His divine will, each manifested to His likeness for His joy. To them He gave brightness and He gave them darkness.

His Sailent night is deep, inspirational. It is then we can each become one with Him and He one with us. Sacrifice not even one of these Sailent nights, so filled with His sweet grace.

The nights that give us the chance to glorify Him and have Him open our divine heart to accept the love He showers upon us. Let us feel ourselves wafting freely in His playground where we may adore Him.

Wish not for the light of day to quicken for in it we become blinded to our real self. The ever-sweet Sailent night allows us to go deeper into our soul of souls to receive the stimulus of His awakening within. When we become one with Him, our countenance reveals the inner joy. With its radiance, we banish all fear. Never again can His presence be taken away. His light will burn forever more.

The Sailient night now awaits to caress us, to shower our path to Him with petals from the lotus that blossoms eternally. There within, we are what we truly are. Love. All of our yearnings end, for the wings of that love carry us ever forward to His greater heavens illumined by gems sending forth colours, reflecting from our eyes His wondrous light.

The earthly multitudes need weep no more, for their plight of day vanishes by night. The Sailent night is ours to seek the freedom we so long for in the light of day. As the night approaches, be eager for His hand to lead us to His kingdom. Let us be ever awake in the higher consciousness within, for that is the secret key to our beloved’s doorway to everlasting joy and freedom.

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Swami

 

(Amazon Uk shows several used copies as
 title: My Beloved
 Author: Charles Penn
 Date: 1981
 Unknown Binding: 136 pages
 Publisher: Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (1981)
 Language: English
 ASIN: B0007C82QK)

See The Divine In Everyone – Early Devotees

I bumped into Anil Kumar in Samadhi Road. He stopped and said, “do you want a photo?” I replied “yes!”

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

When you see the world with the eye of divine bliss, you will find bliss everywhere. If there is hatred in your vision, you will see hatred everywhere. Hence, change your vision to start with. Look at the world with the vision of peace, love, and compassion. Then the whole world will appear loving and peaceful. When your heart is filled with love, you will experience the Divine in the entire cosmos. See the Divine in everyone. Eschew hatred and ill will. After years of devotion, many still lack a broad outlook and an all-encompassing love. Embodiments of love! Promote love in your hearts incessantly, love that is immortal and infinite. – Baba

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

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Role of our life

You are only actors on the stage before the footlights. The Director, who knows the Play, who assigns the roles, who gives the cues, who calls you in and puts you on, is behind the curtain. You are a puppet; He holds the strings. If He must be seen, you have to be His ‘Sakhaa’ (friend) or ‘Bandhu’ (kinsman). Merely being an onlooker will not entitle you to approach Him and be in His Holy Company. Cultivate His Friendship or Kinship by the attitude of Love and dedicated Service. -Baba

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

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I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith – so that the Christian becomes a better Christian, the Muslim, a better Muslim, and the Hindu a better Hindu. -Baba

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

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Bear all and do nothing;

Hear all and say nothing;

Give all and take nothing; – Baba

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

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Party Time for Peter

★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

Love

Make your life a rose that speaks silently in the language of the heart. The Lord will be watching with a thousand eyes the least activity of man to discover any slight trace of selfless love sweetening it. Bear all and do nothing; Hear all and say nothing; Give all and take nothing; Serve all and be nothing. -Baba

I spend my time here during the winter months.
Here I find sanctury.

.★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

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  Serve all and be nothing. -Baba

.★ ★ ☾ ° ★. .

me? have been visiting Puttaparthi for 21 years.
many changes since my first visit. Time has
slipped by so quickly.

Anil’s shoes

Strange  story about the photo of Anil Kumar shoes. My camera would not work well on my recent  visit to PN. The focus kept jumping about and nothing could stop it, no matter how often i changed the settings. I had previously put the camera setting to “bracketing mode” (3 shots per click.) |I am not sure if I’d not left it there. Often, I captured the most appalling shots of people or ” parts” of people.  I had not aimed that camera towards Anil’s shoes. But there you are, here are his shoes.

“He Who Is Content”, A Sai Interview – Early Devotees

Namaste♥ ॐ♥Pranam♥ ॐ♥Namskar

My first interview was in a group in ’76 was at PN. Interviews are always unexpected and as soon as you are called, you feel a rush of emotions…excitement, gratitude, anticipation, and even a little nervousness.

As Baba was calling us all in (about 10), people were standing about not knowing where or when to sit. I had heard what the interview room looked like and as soon as I went in, I made a beeline to Swami’s chair and sat right next to the right of it while others were still milling about. I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity.

Swami is the ultimate host and puts everyone at ease. There was a big black man in a suit and tie believe it or not with a camera around his neck and look a bit bewildered. Swami walks up to him and points to the camera and asks, “Camera?” The man did not speak a word other than his native African language so didn’t understand. Again, “Camera?” He still didn’t understand. Swami turns from him a bit and asks, “How many?” while He extends his forefinger and starts counting people, “One, two, three, four”, then the bobbing finger turns into a wave of the hand then like a card dealer, fans out with His thumb 10 “business” cards with Swami’s photo and address on them. This was particularly humorous for me because I had six months before coming to India, worked as a dealer in Las Vegas.

So Swami starts handing out the cards to everyone and after He finished, He very humbly said, “Swami. No camera. No film.”

I was holding the card in between my thumb and forefinger, and when I changed to hold on the edges, I noticed my thumbprint on the font. The developer was still wet! 🙂

Later in the interview Swami asked the group, “Who is the wealthiest man in all the world?” and no one said a word. He was looking ahead at the group and not at me because I was sitting right next to Him on his right. After a long pause with no answer, He turned sharply at looked right at me with a look of “And what do you say?”

I had actually heard this the day before from a guy who was asked this in an interview so I replied, “He who has no desires Swami.” to which He emphatically replied while poking me in the cheek rather hard with His forefinger, “Wrong!. He who is content!”

Hmmm….I guess it doesn’t get any more direct than that, eh?

– Story given to me by a friend..

Namaste♥ ॐ♥Pranam♥ ॐ♥Namskar

~I really enjoyed  this small story and like most of those people who visited Baba in the early days, interviews were no problem. How lucky they were!

“The Long Wait” – Early Devotees

Conversation with Dana Gillespie, British singer, actress and song writer

The Journey to the Sai Baba and the Long Wait Thereafter

RS: Dana, as an artist, you’ve lived a full and exciting life. Now, where does the chapter on Sai Baba fit into the life story of Dana Gillespie?

DG: When I first read a book on Sai Baba, which was ‘Man of Miracles’, it was about 31 years ago, then I did something I never do. I instantly went to get a ticket. Actually, my father bought it for me. He said, “I have a feeling you’re meant to do this.” So three weeks later, I leap on a plane and head to India.

I had this feeling that Sai Baba was going to say when I got here, “Hello! I’ve been waiting for you. You are the chosen one.” But of course, not a bit of it. He ignored me for 12 years. I slept in the sheds, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, had extraordinary experiences, coincidences, things that a non-believer will go, “Well, that’s just a coincidence!” But you know, when you have Baba in your heart and you have faith, then you realize that nothing is a coincidence. I had quite a few unusual experiences.

And they were enough to keep me coming back sometimes twice a year to sit and be crushed at the back. My leg was bad. So, the first time I came here, I actually walked into the place and left in a wheelchair instead of being the other way around, because I was determined to sit cross-legged.

It was agony. And I often have walked using a walking stick when I’ve been here. I don’t mind. It’s just the body. I’m not bothered about it at all. Pain is a nuisance because it drains your energy and it can distract you from getting on with loftier, godlier thoughts.

But I have to thank this leg pain because every step I take, which is painful, I have to say ‘Sairam’. Every step going upstairs, I have to hold the railing or find somebody who might be on the step below me and I’ll put my hand on his shoulder and say ‘Sairam! Thank you’. So for that, I’m extremely grateful and I know that Sai Baba has said for every trouble we have, we should thank Him, because that makes us turn to Him more.

If I’d have had a ‘bed of roses’ life – a happy husband, and children, and the rest, which doesn’t go actually with the music business, I wouldn’t have wanted to find anything higher. I would’ve been content with the samsaric (worldly) view of life and that has never been my goal. I’ve wanted to fly free.
At the end of the forty minute programme, as a token of Divine appreciation, Bhagawan presented a beautiful memento, a replica of a Phoenix bird, to Ms. Gillespie. (The Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese etc.)

RS: Through these 12 years of anonymity in the ashram, as this westerner with red hair sitting at the back of the Sai Kulwant Hall, with no particular physical attention from Baba, what kept you coming back? Isn’t that a fairly long period of waiting?

He Fosters the Tender Faith with Subtle Experiences

DG: Well, He did little things, small things. One time, I left Bangalore for Puttaparthi and I had lost my passport. So, I thought, well, I’ve read this story about Swami who’s found somebody his traveller’s check or passport in Paris. I thought, “Well, I’ve got a choice – either I go back and they’ll think I’m stupid because I know I haven’t left it there or I go on and He will find it for me and something will happen.” So, I get to Puttaparthi and try and register for a shed accommodation but of course, I get an earful from the men at the accommodation office “How dare you …? Go to the police station!” And to make matters worse, my ticket was also in my passport.

I was desperate, thinking, “What am I going to do?” And then, a group of Austrians from Vienna said, “Oh, come in with us. We’ll smuggle you into the shed. Nobody’s gonna notice.”

So, I thought, “Right, okay.” And because I was really frazzled and shaking over this experience, I plonked down. I didn’t have a mosquito net. I couldn’t find a bed roll. I mean, I was completely unprepared for this occurrence. And I couldn’t find a torch and in the days, when you could do Omkaram, go round the mandir, I thought, “I’m gonna have to get up, I’m gonna have to ask Swami for help.”

I leapt out, ran outside and sat behind the mandir; it was all dark, and I was sitting there, there was nobody around. And then I managed to see, you know, under a bit of a light. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning! I had come out far too early. So I sink down on my knees and I go “Swami, You have to help me.” And I had my hand sitting there. And suddenly, a jasmine flower plopped out of nowhere. There was no wind, there was no jasmine flowers around. It just landed there and I heard this noise, really like a ‘plop’ as it appeared in existence and landed there. I thought, “My goodness! I know He’s gonna help me.” I had the faith, because I’ve always known everyone else is gonna let me down in life. Only God cannot. He has to be your best friend!

So I thought, “Well, I do not know how He’s going to do it but I know He’s going to do it.” And then, at the next darshan, I’m ignored, of course. Well then, I’m a bit disheartened.

And in those days, when you could walk up at the back, I always used to walk up there alone. They always said, “Don’t go. There’s snakes and scorpions.” But I used to think “Oh, if I sing bhajans, nothing’s going to bite me.”

I’m up there in this cool breeze and I’m watching the eagles flying around. And when I’m up there, I suddenly hear this – like a voice saying, “Go straight down now to the main street. Go now, NOW!” So, I rush down and as I’m going past the accommodation office, a man is coming out with my ticket and passport in his hand. And he’d found it. He tried to return it but because I wasn’t registered, they didn’t know who to give it to. So, we met, and in those days, that street was always very crowded.

RS: Did you find out where the man found out your passport and ticket?

DG: No, because I looked down to check if it was my name and when I looked up, he was gone. It was one of those great stories! And I’ve got another little one like that.

You know, when I first came here, the first thing that hit me about seeing Sai Baba was I must never eat an animal again. Meat is off the menu for me.

RS: It was instinctive?
Narrating the background story of another piece, “Play The Game, Be Happy”, the graceful singer explained that the piece was based on an Interview Room conversation with Bhagawan. Utilising an opportunity granted by The Lord, the singer had posed a “million dollar question” unto Bhagawan concerning life as to ‘what is the purpose? what is the meaning? … of life?’ and pat came His reply: “Play The Game; Be Happy!”, and thus a beautiful, meaningful song.

DG: Yeah. He was quite far away, He was always a bit of an orange dot in the distance, although there were less people. But it just hit me and I was looking to be a vegetarian, although I’ve never been that keen on meat. But it just hit me. So I came back full of beans from my first trip to Baba, saying to everyone, “I’m going to be… this is Mother Teresa, step aside… the spiritual life for me, I’m going to be fantastic, I’m helping little old ladies across the road, whether they want it or not.”

And I enrolled as a helper at the main cancer hospital, pushing trolleys and I was all trying to do good. And then, my father said, “I think you should go back again.” He had married again. He wanted me to take his wife, my stepmother.

We go back and in these 3 days, I’m trying to show her Puttaparthi. Somehow, all the wonderful things that I had wanted to be fell by the wayside. My promises were broken left, right, and center and I felt so miserable that my word was not my bond, to quote Shakespeare. I sat one day in the bhajan hall in Whitefield, actually, in floods of tears.

I was about 20 rows back and Swami’s up on the chair and everyone’s happy and He’s beating time with His right hand the whole time. He’s happy and I got my glasses on. So, I can see Him really clearly and I want to sink down low behind the woman in front of me. And my clothes were soaked with tears. I have never cried like that, it was like a tap had been turned on. And I now know when they break a coconut, you know, you’ve got to break the person so that the milk comes out from within.

This was my breaking point. I was a broken person totally dripping wet (from crying). And every now and then, Swami would look at me and He’d go like this as if to say, “Calm down!” and I kept thinking it was for the person behind me or in front. And He’s still beating time like that and then He’d come back and do this gesture to suggest “Calm down!” After this went on for 15 minutes, and by this time I was wringing wet with my clothes. I really couldn’t stop the tears…

And then I made the inner connection with Him and said, “Look, if You are everything I’ve read about and if You can know exactly what I’m feeling at this moment, I demand a sign.” And all I could see was that He’d never moved His left hand, He’d just been beating time with His right hand. So, I said, “Just beat with the left hand once for me.”

And He looked me straight in the eyes and went once with His left hand and then carried on with His right hand and never moved His left hand again. So, this was very good for me, because it made me realize His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence!

I’ve had to learn stage by stage and if He’d have welcomed me that first trip, going, “Yes, here you are! You’re the chosen one!”, I hate to think what my ego would’ve grown to, because I come from a profession where they judge you on your looks, which I’ve always thought was pathetic. I don’t judge anyone on how they look. I look at their heart.

source – copyrights: radiosai.org

Let Go, Let God – Early Devotees

Here is a wonderful “Sai teaching story” from Al Drucker. The same  can be found  on his website at http://www.atmapress.com/.  I never got an opportunity to speak to Al, although I heard much about him during my time in Prashanthi Nilayam. Al, was one of the first Westerners to arrive at Swami’s feet, and was given a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of Sai Baba’s ashram. He enjoyed a physical closeness that few people in later years could ever imagine. Luckily he has written down many of his accounts.

   

Let Go, Let God

Once I complained to Swami, “Swamiji, the spiritual path is so difficult.”

“No,” he said, “it is very easy, easier than anything else in the world.” He took his handkerchief and grasped it in his hand very tightly.

He said, “You see, this is difficult. But spiritual path is not this. Spiritual path is very easy.” He just opened his hand and the handkerchief fell down to the ground. “You see how easy it is. Letting go is easy. That is all there is to it.”

So when we reach the point when we want nothing else but God and to fill ourselves only with God, then we are on the spiritual path. And that is not really so difficult. All we have to do is just let go of everything else.

One time he came up to me on the verandah and asked, “Drucker, what do you want?” I laughed at his twist of my name and I answered his question, “Swamiji, I’m very content. I’m satisfied.”

“You mean you want nothing?” he asked, with some astonishment in his voice.

I said,”Swamiji, all I want is God!”

“That’s not NOTHING,” he said quite forcefully, “That’s EVERYTHING… that’s health, wealth, freedom, liberation, bliss…” And he continued on with a long list of good things. Then he added, “Nothing is there!” pointing to the world outside the ashram, “Everything is here! Everything!” and he pointed to my heart.

So, it is all already here within us, one hundred percent; nothing more needs to be given. Only the veil of ignorance must be removed. The room may have been dark for thousands of years, but the sunlight will always be waiting. Pull away the curtain and instantly the darkness will be replaced by a dazzling flood of light.

The Al Drucker Story – Early Devotees





The banning of devotees has been something associated with Sai Baba from way back during the early years. Most of you will remember he banished from his ashram, one Krishna, a young man at the time. Krishna, in particular, had enjoyed much closeness to Sai Baba. We can read the full details of Krishna in a popular devotee’s book  by Anyatha Saranam Nasthi – “Other Than You, Refuge There is None.”

We do not know why Sai Baba suddenly dismisses devotees, not only those physically close to him, but others too, from his sight. We only know he does banish people  from time to time. Perhaps the most famous to be banned is Al Drucker. His story  follows.

I’ve chosen Al Drucker’s story to share here because his knowledge and understanding of Sai Baba is quite unique. We can also read in other Sai Baba books, about Professor Kasturi who unfortunately was banned for five years. He was called back to Puttaparthi, and given the position of Ashram Manager, as well as that of Editor to the then newly created Sai magazine, Sanantha Sarathi.



Al Drucker:


In 1981, after I had made some fifteen or so trips to Sai Baba, he directed me to come and live at Prashanti Nilayam. So I went back to America and gave up everything. I sold or gave away all of my possessions and I was back at the ashram within a couple of months. At his direction I was to give up my U.S. citizenship and become an Indian citizen. My life in America was to be finished! So I started the process of Indian naturalisation and I arranged that I would become an Indian citizen on my 60th birthday, because that is a particularly auspicious day. I planned to go to Bangalore that day to be sworn in and also, a few days later, to deliver a paper at a conference of the heads of all the Indian universities on the Awareness Programme, six courses unique to Swami’s University, which covered the whole range of human knowledge – the humanities, the sciences, the arts, and the spiritual and religious history of the world – which all undergraduate students were required to take. I had had a hand in formulating the programme. Now at that time Swami was in Whitefield.

So that morning I was sitting in my room, working on my presentation, when a policeman knocked on the door and informed me that I was under arrest! Well, you call imagine the shock and disbelief that I felt. It seems that they had decided that I was a CIA agent and would pose a threat to the country if I became a citizen. The policeman had orders to take me to Anantapur. I insisted that I had to go and see Swami first. Well, amazingly, I got to see him. It’s a wonderful story and I cannot tell it all now, but I got to see Swami and he told me, despite my fervent objections, that, yes, I was CIA, and it would be best if I left the country! Then he explained that CIA really meant Constant Integrated Awareness, and that I should call the headman in Anantapur. I called this officer and to my astonishment he directly answered the phone, which is most remarkable in India. When I told him that Bhagavan had advised me to leave India, he gave me eight hours in which to leave the country. Now this is the day, my 60th birthday, on which I am supposed to become an Indian citizen and give up my U.S. citizenship and, in a moment, my life was totally turned around! I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have a ticket, I didn’t have an exit visa yet, somehow, Swami miraculously arranged for all of that and I ended up by flying to Germany, of all places. That was as far as I could go at that time with the funds that I had available. I stayed with some German Sai friends that I had met at the ashram. Now the husband was in the Wehrmacht, the German army, during the war and his wife was a leader of the girls’ side of the Hitler Youth movement. We spent an intense month together discussing the war and clearing out all our old karma. It was totally finished for us and we became very close friends. We put the whole war experience to rest.  In my talk yesterday I referred to the pure light that shines in the eyes of the children in Swami’s schools and I have a clear sense that many of these kids are the reincarnated souls of the beings that died in the gas ovens of Auchwitz, and that they are now with Baba and so have forgiven all that was done to them in the past!  I am really clear in my own mind that even if Adolf Hitler were sitting here in front of me now I would forgive him and see only the wholeness and the completeness and the perfection of his being, and not dwell on the horror of what he, in his madness, perpetrated on the world.

David: How long did it take you to recognise Sai Baba’s divinity. My path was a very slow one, requiring many visits, with much doubting and testing.  How was it for you?

Al: I loved Swami the first time that I saw him. I just loved him. As I said yesterday, the very first time that I saw Swami was in the Poornachandra Auditorium on the day of Mahashivaratri.  Just before he came out, I had this very powerful deja-vu experience of being back in Nazi Germany. There were the massed flags and the swastika symbols, which of course was the symbol of Nazi Germany, the slogans and banners on the walls, similar to what the Nazis used to do, and when Swami started speaking he was saying the same things that Hitler said! Then I woke up and realised that here was the ultimate of goodness that had come into consciousness, the ultimate in the totality of the history of the world as it is known in the West. There had not been a full avatar on the Earth since Lord Krishna, over five thousand years ago. I recognised that I had experienced both the ultimate of divine goodness and the ultimate of evil in my life. They both used some of the same outer forms, they both used some of the same expressions, they both used some of the same symbols and slogans, and they both used similar mannerisms. In the talk that Swami gave that day he said that it does us no good to go around digging ten metre holes in a field in our search for water. We can dig holes all over a field and still find nothing. He said that we must dig one hole, but dig it deeply, in order to find pure clear water. If we want to know the reality of this Sai Avatar, we must come close to him and dig deeply. The intensity of that experience was so powerful that it has remained with me ever since.

David: You’ve been so close to Swami, do you think it is because of your actions in past lives or in this life?

Al: I really do not know.  All I can say is that there is nothing that I am aware of in this life that would relate to that extraordinary privilege.

David: We both know of people, such as yourself, who were very close to Swami and then have suddenly fallen from grace and been banished from the ashram. I have this feeling that it is safer not to get too close to Swami. It’s almost like getting too close to the fire and getting burned. What are your feelings about this?

Al: When the devastating moment of incineration comes it is almost always totally unexpected, like the incident on my 60th birthday that I just spoke about. In some ways, it’s a lot like death. We think that death is something that happens to everybody but us! Here is another story with an unexpected result. One morning I got a message to report to the head office of the ashram. Remember that at the time I was a lecturer in the Sathya Sai Institute and, in fact. I was the only Westerner there. Swami also had told me to do study circles for the residents in the ashram and for the staff and students at the University. I also gave talks to the Westerners who visited the ashram. So there were many opportunities for me to slip up and to make a mistake, but in this particular incident even the mistake was missing. I had done nothing wrong. Anyway, I went down to the office, it was just before morning darshan, and waited for the manager of the office to arrive. He was coming straight from seeing Swami, since they have breakfast together. He walked up to me and said, “Pack up your things and leave. You have to be out of here by noon!” I said, “Out of here, what do you mean?” He replied, “You are being told to go. You’ve got to go.”  Now this is after I’ve been there three years.  I asked, “What is this all about?” but he replied, “I’ve been instructed not to tell you.”  So I returned to my flat and said inwardly “Swami, what have I done? I don’t understand it. I have to leave and my whole life is here. This is where all my things are.” At that time I had an extensive library of over five hundred books. I began packing and choosing a few favourite books to take with me I picked up a book of Shankara’s poems, opened it and read ‘Mother, how could you be so cruel to your only son, you’re my Mother and how can you not love your son?  Somehow I knew that it was no accident that I was looking at this poem. Just then a message came for me to go and see Dr. Gokak, who at that time was the vice chancellor of the University, and who was also my boss. He told me that Swami was very unhappy with me and I had to leave. I said, “What is this all about, Dr. Gokak?” He replied that he had been told not to tell me, but that Swami was unhappy with something that I had said at a public meeting. I returned to my flat and continued with my packing when Professor Kasturi called for me. Now Kasturi and I were like father and son. I spent much time with him. He said, “Drucker, you’ve done it.” I said, “What is it that I am supposed to have done?” He replied “Swami says that you were cracking dirty jokes in your talk to the foreigners” I said “That’s just not possible, Kasturiji, that’s totally incorrect.” Kasturi said that Swami had received a letter from a German lady who had reported this fact to him. He also said that he (Kasturi) had received a letter from the same German lady asking for an introduction to me.  I have no idea who this lady is. So I went off for my last darshan and as I’m sitting there in darshan Swami comes up to me and says “You are a Surpanakha.” Now Surpanakha is the name of a demon in the Ramayana.  She is the sister of Ravana and when she discovers Rama and Lakshmana she desires them so much that, in a jealous rage, she tries to kill Sita.  Lakshmana intervenes and with his sword disfigures her, first cutting off her nose and then her ear. She runs back to her brother Ravana in order to raise an army of demons and so avenge herself. Ravana is amazed that she stayed around long enough to have both a nose and an ear cut off, and he asks her why she did not run away. She replies that they were both so beautiful she couldn’t take her eyes off them! So when Swami called me “Surpanakha” and jokingly said that he was going to cut off my nose, I responded by saying “0 Swami, you are so beautiful, I’ll have to stay around until you cut off my ear too!” Apparently, that was the right answer. Swami told me to take padanamaskara. I kissed his feet and that was the end of the incident. It was over, and I stayed at the ashram. But it was a warning to me that at any moment I could be thrown out, with or without good reason and, as you know, later on it did indeed happen to me. I have always recognised that God can take anything that He likes away from me. I have heard Swami talk of the three zeros, of reducing a true devotee to nothing, of taking away their wealth, their health and their name to prepare them for liberation. I am ready for that.

David: Obviously the fact that Swami did eventually throw you out of the ashram must be for your highest good, but what, do you think, was his reason for doing that?  Do you think that he is preparing you for liberation?

Al: I had always believed that the meaning of the three zeros was that God can take any material thing away from me, but that He could not take God away from me. I worshipped Swami as God and here I was getting thrown out of the ashram. So I felt that even God had now been taken away from me. I felt totally devastated, without roots of any kind. I believed that there was no existence left, but then I discovered something. There is no way that God can be taken away from me. The form of God was no longer in my eyes, that was all.  Now that discovery was not immediate.  It took me about a year to get over the feelings that something horrible had happened to me. Nevertheless, during this period of time, I experienced many remarkable acts of grace, including being in the interview room with Swami every day for some weeks.  It was a direct experience.  It was not a dream.   It was a state of awakened consciousness. I was sitting there and Swami would be sitting here and we were talking. It was no less real than the exchange that we are having now. I realise now that Swami will never take himself away from me.


David: Ann and I have always created a separation between the forms that we call Sai and Super Sai. We love to go and visit Sai, that is to say the physical form of Sai Baba, but we also recognise that Super Sai, that is to say the omnipresent form of God, is with us every moment of our lives and, indeed, is here right now. It is Super Sai that is for us the God in which we trust and in which we believe and with whom we have no conflict. It seems to me that conflicts such as you have experienced only arise when you get close to the form and have to relate to the form!

Al: Well, David, we have to be willing to get close to Swami and even to risk being thrown out, but even if that happens we will discover that nothing really has happened. How can anything ever come between Swami and his devotees? He is pure love and he yearns for all of us to come very close to him. One reason Swami gives us vibhuti is to remind us that ash is the only thing that survives in a fire. We have to be willing to do what it takes to be consumed in his fire and to realise the truth of who we really are, which cannot be affected by anything.

David: What has been your experience of being nine years in the wilderness, of being removed from Sai Baba for so long a time, after being so close to him?

Al: During the eight years I was at the Ashram I did indeed feel very close to Swami. In the first years Swami would speak to me every day. So I was treated like I was a very special person. But what has come to me in these years of being in the wilderness is sanity. I thought that I was special, but it is now very dear to me that I am not special, none of us is special, and I don’t want to shock your readers when I say this, but even Swami is not special. There is nothing special about anything in this world.  Underneath we are all exactly the same, one unchanging divine essence; on the surface there is just the changing names and forms of maya, the veil of illusion.

David: When you say Swami, you mean the form of Swami?

Al: Yes, absolute truth does not have a form. It cannot be seen with the eyes, nevertheless, some forms can be used to point the way to the realisation of our true reality. Such is the form of Swami, but we must go beyond that stage to the direct experience of the formless divinity as the truth of our being.

David: Professor Kasturi was always having a hard time with Swami, even though he was very close to Swami. Swami sometimes did some harsh things to him, didn’t he, to crush his ego?  Is this the price that you pay for being that close to him?

Al: No, I don’t think that it’s like that; I don’t think that it’s a price you have to pay for being so close to him. I think that it’s the price you have to pay for having chosen to be on the fast track to liberation. You have to pay that price if your ego is to go.  The sense of individuality has to go and all that Swami is doing is to help you to realise that all forms of individuality are a mistake. So I think that this sort of thing happens to all people who have made the commitment to liberation, no matter what. There is only one interest in my life and that is the path to liberation, so anything which blocks that path has to be removed, and quickly, because I am not prepared to wait for another five lifetimes. Ann, in her talk yesterday, said that the Book of Brighu astrologer had told you that you were going to incarnate again with Prema Sai and live in his ashram for most of your next life and would die at ninety-five. This, apparently, was confirmed to you at Shivaratri when you did not see the lingam emerge. You have now accepted this as a fact.

David: Yes.  That is true.

Al: I think that’s a terrible mistake. Excuse me, David, but I have to tell you that that is very foolish. Don’t accept anything like that. Your mind has the power of God and you can change destiny by changing your consciousness. You can, I know that! You have the power to do this unless you have talked yourself into wanting to be around for another one hundred and fifty years or so.

David: I have no desire to be here again, even for a life with Prema Sai.

Al: Then don’t accept it. Don’t accept it and Swami will not support that mistake. It really is a mistake. He would not support it unless that is your wish. So make that decision now and even if the three zeros and all that stuff follows, so what? This world isn’t worth anything anyway, so why invest in it?

David: May I ask you a personal question now? Was your decision to marry Yaani, the decision which directly led to you being thrown out of the ashram, made from the heart or from Swami?

Al: It was not from the heart, it was clearly from Swami, although now it has become a thing of the heart. You know, it’s an interesting fact that that was the way of most marriages until this century. Parents or preceptors usually arranged marriages, because it was in the best interest of the individuals concerned in their journey to God. The love, which was often very deep, usually came afterwards. I would say that I’m a very reluctant husband.  I went through sixty years of life without ever having contemplated marriage and just at the time when I am supposed to give up everything I get married!

David: What game do you think Swami is playing with you with regard to your marriage?

Al: Well this marriage has been my principal sadhana for the past ten years and in retrospect I can say that nothing else that I can think of has been as valuable as this marriage in terms of personal growth and development. From a worldly and a cultural sense we are totally opposite! There is a constant opportunity for friction between us. We have Swami in common, as our common love. Other than that we have few other common interests. What a grand opportunity this presents for self-interest, for ego, to expose itself and to be seen and set aside! It is something of a challenge. Swami has presented us with a final challenge to enable us to finish this silly game.

David: Life is a game, as Swami says, and we must play it, but now that you are allowed back in Prashanti Nilayam can you tell us about your more recent experiences?

Al: Well, my first impression after nine years absence is that nothing has really changed. Everyone says that the ashram has totally changed and, of course, from a physical standpoint that is true, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that. I was just aware that Swami had not changed one iota in some twenty-five years. He is the same beautiful being, he expresses the same immeasurable kindness and concern; he emits that same unfathomable unlimited love. There is that same awesomeness and magic when he comes out to give darshan. He inspires us with the same hopeful message of redemption. He coaxes us in the same way, to rise above desire and temptation, to realise our incredible divine inheritance.  Swami is totally unchanged. He is still saying what he said when he gave his first discourse, namely, my life is my message. He is teaching us to follow his example of raising our thoughts to heaven above and of using our bodies to serve mankind below.  Now recognise that we also haven’t really changed. We go through these histories, these life-stories, and we think that so much has happened but, in fact, we are still as we have always been, even before we came into this birth and even after the death of these bodies. We are always whole and perfect and one with Sai Baba. We are love itself, and that is why Swami has always addressed us as Premaswarupa, as embodiments of pure divine love. This is now becoming my direct experience. I can relate one experience that came up for me during the Paduka festival last year at the ashram. They brought out this golden chariot for Swami to ride in and out of nowhere all this judgement came into my mind. Good heavens, I thought, Swami, what are you doing? What have you got to do with this garish obscene thing, this huge golden chariot? Would Jesus or Saint Francis ride in something like that?  I was very troubled by it, but at the same time, I was also very much the witness of my trouble. Where did all of these feelings come from? Why should I care what ever this chariot looks like? But still I cared. So I had to quiet myself down. I just had to close my eyes and shut it all out, become very silent and very quiet and, then, when I opened my eyes, Swami was sitting in the chariot and this incredible feeling of love gushed out of me. I started crying. I was just overcome. It was as if I had put on these glasses of love and everything was just pure love.  Wherever I looked, at the people, at the chariot, all I saw was pure love. It was a wonderful experience.

Whitefield Darshan – how I remember it during the 1990’s

David: The chariot was a donation of love, wasn’t it, but Swami did point out that he had no need of it and he did give it away, didn’t he?

Al: I don’t know and to tell you frankly, I’m not particularly interested in the chariot. I mentioned this incident to show how Swami takes something about which we have made some negative judgement and turns it into an experience of love. Swami tells the story of Jesus walking with his disciples on a road, when they come upon the stinking decomposed carcass of a dead dog. The disciples try to lead Jesus away from the gruesome sight, but Jesus bends down very close to the remains and says, “Look at the beautiful teeth of this dog. How much it must have been loved by its master.” So Jesus saw the one beautiful thing in that otherwise unpleasant sight. That is Swami’s message to us. Give up your judgements. Put on your love glasses and see the face of divinity, in other words, see Swami’s unbounded love in whatever you see.

David: My last question, really, is in the light of all your experience with Swami and the suffering that you had to endure, what do you think is the purpose of life?


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Please note this story represents the opinions of Al Drucker and not necessarily those of this writer. Thanks.