No One Knows Me! – A Devotees Story From Long Ago.

Sathya Sai Baba in the early days. Under the old Banyan Tree in Whitefield.


A brilliant Indian student by the name of Vemu Mukunda had taken science courses at universities in India. Then he left his motherland to conduct post graduate research in Scotland. He took a job in England working in the field of nuclear science. Although outwardly he seemed to have successfully established himself in his chosen field, yet he was not happy. He had left his family, friends, and culture behind and now found himself living in an environment where the advancements in technology were considered the highest goal and his only social life consisted of attending endless rounds of cocktail parties. He felt his life was empty and without purpose and this feeling came to a crisis point when his brother and sister both died back in India. Furthermore the negative use of nuclear science to build weapons of mass destruction weighed on his conscience and made him question his choice of career. He began to sink into a state of chronic depression which was only briefly relieved by the release he felt when he made music on the Indian stringed Veena that he had played since childhood.


It was during that period of black despair that a series of strange incidents occurred to bring a new influence into his life. By coincidence, a mutual friend in London had a veena at home that was badly damaged and when he heard of Vemu’s skill with the instrument he invited him to his home to see if he might be able to repair the instrument. Vemu went to the home along with some friends and indeed found the instrument so badly damaged that he was completely unable to get any pleasant sounds out of it at all. However he agreed to take the instrument back to his home and see if he could repair it.

On the way home, the friends who had brought him wanted to stop at a house where they knew the residents were conducting Sai Baba bhajan sessions (sacred singing). Though Vemu had no special interest in doing so, since he was riding with them he went along with the plan.

When they arrived at the house and went in, he saw a picture of Sathya Sai Baba on the wall and immediately had the thought: “Oh, no not him”. His parents had been followers of Shirdi Sai Baba and they felt that Sathya Sai Baba, who claimed to be the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, was an imposter and so Vemu had also taken on this attitude. Shirdi Sai Baba left his body in 1918 and many of his original followers were unwilling to believe that he had taken on the Sathya Sai form eight years later (Sathya Sai was born in 1926) even though Shirdi Sai Baba had told his followers just before his death that he would take birth again eight years hence.

Vemu had no interest in the bhajans and so he sat behind the other singers and took no part in the singing. However during a lull in the bhajans the hostess put a veena in his hands and asked him to play something. In an abstracted mood he began to strum the instrument and presently a tune came into his head and he began to play. The others very much enjoyed his playing and when the song ended they asked him to play another song. He agreed, playing the first tune that came to mind. At the end of the second song, he suddenly realized that the two songs he had just played had been composed by two different Indian Saints but the titles of the songs had the same meaning in the respective languages of the composers: “No One is Equal to You”.

Now Vemu looked down at the veena he had been playing and realized that it was the badly damaged one he had been taking home to repair. But mysteriously, every note he had played on it had been completely harmonious. Now he tried to play it consciously and not a single harmonious note would come out of it. He began to feel as if something miraculous had occurred and he felt the hair on his head standing on end.

He thought to himself: “Sai Baba! What power. Is he a black magician?”

After this incident Vemu began to get invitations to play professionally. He accepted whenever it fit into his schedule and strangely, wherever he played he would run into someone who would talk about Sathya Sai Baba. At home his friends in London kept pressing him to attend Sai Baba bhajan sessions. He began to feel that he was being pursued by Sai Baba!

Vemu had been schooled on the principles of science and so his confidence was more on the field of matter than that of the spirit. He felt that the realm of spirit was only a way by which some people escaped from harsh reality. And yet some part of him wanted to proceed into the spiritual realm while the other part wanted nothing to do with it. His mental torment increased and he felt himself being torn in two different directions. He continued to resist the spiritual impulse and yet, the world of physics and materialism had lost its charm for him.

Finally in a state of complete desperation he sat down and addressed a letter to Sathya Sai Baba at his residence at Prasanthi Nilayam. Although he had heard that Sai Baba does not answer directly by writing back, it was said that he would provide the answer in some more direct form. He poured out his heart’s dilemma asking Sai Baba if he should continue in his chosen profession of nuclear engineering, quit and become a full time musician, or renounce the world and become a religious devotee (Sannyasi).

As he boarded a flight to Paris for a Veena concert, he wondered how and in what form he might receive a response to his letter but nothing unusual happened on the trip. On his return to London, he began to feel an inexplicable urge to visit the same home where he had played the damaged veena during the bhajan session. This was curious to him since he didn’t even want to go there the first time. He ignored the urge for a while but finally gave in. Approaching the house, he noticed the “Om Sai” written on the front of the house. The owner of the house, Mrs Sitabai, greeted him at the door and told him she was very glad he had come because she had something for him. They went to the shrine room and she handed him a photograph telling him an unknown visitor had attended the last bhajan session and had asked that the picture be given to Vemu as soon as possible. He looked at the photograph and saw that it was a picture of Sathya Sai Baba playing the veena!

He was immediately overcome with emotion and surrendered to Sai Baba by prostrating before the large photo of him on the wall. Tears of emotion ran down his cheeks. He knew now that he had his answer. He soon quit his job and became a full time musician. His reputation as a skilled veena musician spread and he began to get calls from all over Europe, including as far away as Russia. He felt that somehow his sudden success was due in part to the guiding hand of Sathya Sai Baba and he began to feel that he wanted to return to India and visit him. At about this time his mother and father were also asking him to return to India to see them and so he began to think seriously about making the trip home. But at the back of his mind was a fear that all the events were just coincidences and the result of his own imagination and that Sai Baba might refuse to see him. It would be a great disappointment to him if Sai Baba ignored him.

He decided to write to a friend and have him ask if he should come to visit Sai Baba. Soon afterwards he had a vivid dream in which Sai Baba came to him and rubbed his sacred ash (vibhutti) on his left shoulder beneath his shirt and said to him: “Come to India”. When he awoke the dream seemed very real but he still felt that it might have been created out of his wish to go to India to see the great teacher. After several days of struggle he made up his mind to go so he canceled all his performance reservations and took a plane to India.

When he arrived at Swami’s (i.e. Sai Baba’s) residence he took his place on the grounds at the end of a line of men. One of the devotees told him that he had arrived just in time for Darshan, in which Sai Baba circulates among his devotees giving sight of a holy person. Vemu sat quietly enjoying the feeling of peace that emanated from the place and waited patiently. Soon there was a stir at the other end of the lines and he caught sight of the orange colored robe of Sai Baba as he circulated slowly, gracefully among the devotees, stopping briefly to talk to some, to create vibhutti for some lucky ones, or to take letters from others. As Sai Baba got closer, Vemu felt his excitement and anxiety increase. As he saw the robe and delicate feet approach him he could not bear to look directly into his face, encircled with a halo of hair and so he cast his glance downward onto the ground. His heart was in his mouth and his body became rigid as he noticed the feet approach ever closer. Vemu had written a letter to give to Sai Baba but he had completely lost his wits and did not even think to hand it to him. He felt Baba take the letter from his hand and then he raised him up and he heard him say in a quiet voice: “Go inside and wait”.

Vemu went inside and when at last he faced Sai Baba alone in the interview room, Sai Baba created vibhutti for him and rubbed it on his left shoulder under his shirt just as he had done in the dream. Then Sai Baba began to discuss the obstacles in his life showing complete familiarity with his career struggle, his desire to play the veena, his depression, and other details of his daily life. As the talk ended, Baba circled his hand and produced out of air a five faced rudraksha bead in a gold setting at the end of a gold chain. He gave it to Vemu to wear constantly and told him that he would have great success both in his new career and in his spiritual progress. He then invited Vemu to play the veena at a musical concert to be held at the Sathya Sai College in Brindavan.

When the time of the concert came, Vemu brought along his eighty year old father who had been a close devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. His father told the son he would just sit outside on the outer grounds and wait. But when Sai Baba learned the father was present he immediately called him inside and in Vemu’s words: “For a whole hour Swami talked to my father like a loving mother to her child. After that my father was a changed man.” Now the entire family, Vemu’s father, mother, brother and all the other members of the family are followers of Sathya Sai Baba.

From a story that appears in its original form in Sai Baba, Avatar by Howard Murphet. Birth Day Publishing. San Diego, CA.

This book contains a whole collection of devotee’s stories as well as the personal experiences of the author with Sai Baba.

A Flicker Of Faith, Ram Dass – Early Sai Baba Devotees



How I remember Swami
How I remember Swami


Touching report from Ram Dass on his meeting Sai Baba back in those early days of the 1960’s. He tells us here how Baba created a ring for him. He tells us the ring was obviously man-made and come from the Sai Stores. We all remember the Sai Stores and the bits and bobs Baba would gather from there and give to devotees, just to encourage faith. Of course many say, he was wrong to do this, but he never made any secret that this was all “tinsel and trash” compared to what he really wanted to give, that was his love to change our hearts around.





Flicker of Faith

Posted January 15, 2016

In India there was a very beautiful saint, Sathya Sai Baba, where you could go twice a day everyday and stand in his courtyard. He was a very high spiritual being. He would come out beautifully, just flowing and he would look at someone and say, “You have very bad dysentery.” Then he put out his hand, someone else holding out a piece of paper, and about a foot above his hand dust comes out of the air, verbouti or sacred ash. It comes right out of the air and falls onto the piece of paper. He folds it up and gives it to the person saying, “Here, put a little of this in your mouth everyday, and you will get rid of your dysentery.”

When I was there, as I was sitting at his feet and he was sitting on a chair, he said to me, ‘“Here Ram Dass, I’ll give you something.” and I said, ‘No Babaji, I don’t want anything.’ “No, no, let me give you something.” He held out his hand, and I knew he did things like this, manifest small things like bracelets, watches, small things like that. As a social scientist, responsible to the West, my eyes were going to watch his hand closely, I wasn’t going to blink. As I watched, a bluish light formed on the top of his hand, a flickering light, and it became more and more solid, and then it became a little medallion. It was a little circle a star on it with a little gold image of himself, Sathya Sai Baba. He gave it to me, it was definitely man-made, it did not have an astral quality to it at all. Later I asked a Swami there, “How does he do that?” And he said, “Well, he doesn’t make those; he just moves them from his warehouse with his mind.” And you can just imagine his warehouse, full of these little medallions, and if you were in the warehouse, they’d be disappearing from the shelves, literally.”

Here is a being who is far beyond all of this physical stuff, and it is very interesting what miracles do for most people who are ready to see them. They give a flicker of faith in the possibility that things aren’t the way that you thought they were.

This makes you open to the Spirit. For those who are not ready, it just makes them worship the person performing the miracle, because miracles are not the thing itself. Miracles have the power to give you faith through your rational mind and senses because your rational mind and senses can’t do the miracle, so it gives you faith that there’s some other reality. It opens you to it.

-Ram Dass


Seeing Miracles –

Petals in the fountain - by Eve
Petals in the fountain – by Eve

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

For these pics. I used a Lumix XL7 camera on macro setting.

Blackberries growing under the hedge
Blackberries growing under the hedge
begonia and geranium floating in the fountain
begonia and geranium floating in the fountain
white hydrangea
white hydrangea

Sacred Ashes, Myths And Legends

Temples of India
Temples of India

We all long for miracles, for the sudden inspiration that will fix our lives and the world. We are like  children hoping for an instance cure for our earthly condition.  When will we grow up?  There is no miracle that can replace the work we must do to advance ourselves.. Only the most dedicated and mature effort will bring both ourselves and the world to perfection.

The Midrash,  (Sacred Writings) says that “the world cannot exist without miracles.” For they provide us with inspiration and remind us that the Kingdom we are trying to build is ultimately not our own. However, true growth is never a gift from above, but the result of a long and arduous process of learning and experiencing. In the end, we can achieve the transcendence that we desire, but only by overcoming the most difficult obstacles. The greatest miracle of all is that a person can change.

From The Mahabharata – The Parable Of The Sacred Ashes

Once upon a time, in a holy forest, there lived a sage called Mankanaka, who ate nothing but grass and leaves. For many years, he lived on this pure and austere diet, and his spiritual potency became intense.

One day, as Mankanaka sat in front of his hut weaving a grass mat, he happened to cut himself on a sharp blade of grass. He saw that green sap, not blood, oozed from the cut! His amazement knew no bounds.. “Finally, I have gone beyond the human state, and I have become as sacred and blameless as a plant,” he thought.

A frenzy of joy overtook Mankananka, and he began to laugh and dance. His laughter shook all corners of the world like a cosmic thunder, and the power of is dance drove first the forest and then the whole world to laugh and dance with him. As if enchanted, animals, and trees, stones and rivers, lakes and mountains fell into the rhythms of the sages  wild dance.

The God looked down and saw the danger that the earth was in. Oceans were overflowing and the dust was rising from the earth as smoke rises from a forest fire, darkening the skies. The Gods ran to Shiva and asked him to rescue the Earth from annihilation.

Shiva took the form of a hermit. He went to Mankanaka and stood still beside him. Mankanaka calmed down enough to look at the silent, motionless hermit. He recognized who the hermit really was from the secret signs visible to seers, and he wondered why the Great God, the Lord of Dancers, wasn’t joining in his dance.

“Why are you so happy?” Shiva asked. Mankanaka pointed to his wound, which was still oozing vegetable sap, and said, “O Lord of Gods, don’t you see that I have become so sacred that I have no blood at all? I am superhuman! I am celebrating my miracle!”

Shiva smiled, and then pressed a fingernail into his own thumb. While Mankanaka looked on, ashes, as white as snow and as fine and luminescent as moonlight, flowed out from the thumb of the Great God, Shiva Mahadeva. Their radiance bathed the forest and beyond in a healing mist.

The sight of Shiva’s sacred ashes, purer than green sap and everything else in the world, brought a sobering calmness to Mankanaka.. He prostrated himself at Shiva’s feet, and the whole world came to a standstill..

Even when you see a man endowed with miraculous powers, to the point of rising in the air, do not let yourself be deluded, but investigate whether he observes the divine precepts and prohibitions, whether he stays within the limits of religion and whether he accomplishes the duties this imposes upon him.

~Bayazid al-Bistami

The Late Wilma Bronkey – Early Devotee

Dr. Wilma Bronkey passed away last thursday 10-7-10.


“I go to India to see Sai  and be with him, also because he told me to take the tours. The main thing is, when you are with Baba, to pay attention to what he says and to be the best you can be. Climb to your highest nature at all times. Do service and love God is what he tells us to do. Also let me tell you this,  when you visit Sai you will be transformed.  It may be a large transformation or a small one, but you will be transformed! Changed forever.”

Sweet Tales

Wilma Bronkey and her husband Ivan had visited Sai Baba for over forty years. They were there in the early days when physical closeness to Sai had been an easy affair. Here are some high-lights from her remarkable memories of being  with Sai Baba during the early days.

It all began one day during the late 1960’s when Wilma was looking after her children and doing her other work as a care worker at her home called Enchanted Acres. She began to smell a sweet unusual purfume much like vibuthi. This scent was all pervading and would come in waves through her house. She also began to receive intuitively messages from Sai Baba. One thing led to another and once she understood this was Sai’s calling card, she wanted to visit him in India. The only problem was she did not have enough money. Her fare alone would cost over 900 dollars and all she had in the bank was a  few dollars. Actually she only had 8 dollars in the bank. “Oh, I was so disappointed. I said to the lady in the bank, well I only wanted to know how much I had.” ” Wait a minute.” Said the cashier.”There was a deposit last night. A  gentlemen came into the bank that morning and asked me to make sure to deposit this amount into your account. Let’s check how much there is.” – The amount was for 900 dollars.. “Impossible!” I said to the cashier, “I did not put the money into the account.”  “But it is in your account.” The cashier said.  “A  little gentlemen in an orange robe came into the bank and he knew your bank number and he deposited the money into your account for you.” I added a little more to it and with that, I went to India for the first time.

Swami stood on my Feet

An interesting experience happened way back in those early days. In those days, we were allowed in the temple for darshan, we often had with us our cameras, tape recorders and other personal items. It was all so free in those days. I was about 4 or 5 rows back from the front. When I heard one of the men calling my name, telling me to go sit in the front. It was so quiet in the temple I was embarrassed by his demand. In the end though, I gave in and got up and made my way through the ladies all tightly seated together. It was a struggle but I managed it. I sat down again with all my belongings. Suddenly I had a bad case of charlie-horse that caused incredible pain in my legs. I was in agony. I stretched out my legs to help ease the pain. The problem was my legs were over the dividing line that was there on the floor to keep us on the devotee side, and a little way away from where Sai sat on his chair. I was in such pain I could not withdraw my legs up and away from the dividing line. Suddenly there was Swami. He glanced at me for what seems a long while, then proceeded to walk into the temple, whereupon he stepped on my feet! It was a pretty amazing thing to happen. The moment he stepped onto my feet, all the pain in my legs disappeared. I felt as if I’d been hit with an electric force so strong that it left me filled with energy. Every part of my body was charged with this current that came from him. It was a very strange thing. Something I have never been able to forget.

The Story Of Interview and the Rings

The people in my groups often asked Baba for a ring or a watch. He would gently ask them what they wanted and this need for a ring or watch is, often, all they desired. One lady said to Baba, after he’d asked her what she wanted. She answered I want a ring with my birth stone. Sai created a ring for the lady and placed it on her finger but it did not have a birth stone. The lady grew angry and said to Sai that as he had not given her a ring with her birth stone that she would not wear it nor would she visit again.  Of course this is not the right way to approach Sai. The right answer is to ask him for his love or his guidance. Some people don’t know what to say to the question, “What do you want?” They may answer Oh! Baba I don’t know. I only want you. These are the people who often have rings created for them. The rings are not given to give you some sort of decoration for your finger. It is a gift to aid your transformation. If you do not live up to Sai’s message, then the ring will be lost or will sort of bite your finger until you cannot wear it. The rings and gifts are tokens of his love to help you change. You must jolly well pay attention to his words or the gifts are just useless trashy items to show off to friends.

To me, Baba is the creator of the world – he is everything in my mind’s eyes. If you do not know him then my words will be hard for you to swallow and the stories I tell hard for you to imagine. God is in everything. In the trees, the blossoms. The sun that comes up in the morning, that is God. The fire that burns is also God. If you see water running, it is also God. God is the source of everything. So who is God, it is not ‘who’ is God, it is ‘what’ is God. I don’t care what you call your God, the source is the same, whatever name you like to give it. The essence of God, the power of God, the nature of God, whatever the name, is the same thing. You cannot change the nature of God. Names are many but the source is the same. Different people have different paths to God. Yet the destination is exactly the same. I love the soul of all people and all things. I don’t care what is your background, your culture, your nationality, I love all. I want to hug you whatever and whoever you are. I believe that we are all the same. We are all the same soul.

The Story Of The Dog,

There were a couple back in the early days who wanted Sai Baba to come and eat lunch with them. They went to darshan one day and asked Swami to come to lunch. They told him, “We really want you to come to lunch. We are so much waiting for you to visit our house.” Swami answered,  that he would come the very next day. They rushed home and cleaned the house thoroughly. The wife prepared the best foods for Sai on the morning of the expected visit.

They waited and waited but Sai did not come. Then suddenly a dog came into the house, his muddy paws left marks all over the dining room. The dog caused a mess and ate the food. The couple beat the dog  horribly, then kicked him out of the house.

The next day at darshan, the couple asked Swami,  why did he not come to lunch. They said, “We waited and waited but you did not come!” Swami answered, “I was at your house.”  The couple said, “No you were not.” Sai said, “Oh yes I did. I came to visit you but you beat me with a stick and you kicked me out of the house and you did not feed me.” This was the test for the couple that God has all forms.

Excerpt from a talk given by Wilma Bronkey during the early 2000’s

Finally a small tale of how Wilma, in an interview one year, looked straight into Sai Baba’s eyes, and what she saw was to remain with her the rest of her life. She saw  many worlds and realms, colours, and astral lights that she had not seen in this world. She says it was like looking into the infinite.

A long time ago Story about Sai Ram – Early Devotees

It was in 1943, when Baba was seventeen years of age. One Full Moon night, about 9 P.M., five of us intent on `examining’ Him, persuaded Baba to walk out with us to the sands of the Chithravathi River. He led us to a place where the dead are buried! We asked Baba, in Pun, “Well, Baba! Why have you brought us to the burial ground?” “Why? Are you dreading to go through it?” He questioned us. We said, “Yes, Baba. But, we are counting on Thy Grace, and our luck,” and sat around Him.

Whenever we ask for anything, Baba used to answer, “Oh” “Right” “Why doubt about it?” “We shall see,” or some such similar word or words. So, one of us said, “Swami! Give us something to eat!” Baba laughed within Himself, and cast His glance on all of us in turn. I said, “Are you Sai Baba or not?” He replied quickly, “I am; what is it that you want? Hot Laddu? Boondi? Masaladosa? Poli? Do you want Suggi? Ask for whatever you desire to eat!”

Those were the days when mangoes could not be had anywhere. So, we planned to ask for mango. “We want here, from these sands, fine mango fruit,” Baba sang two lines from an old song, “Yathna Prayathnamul, manavadharmamu jayapajayamul daivaadheenamu”

“To try and struggle is man’s duty; to give or not to give man victory is God’s will.” He said, “Try; you will get them.” So, one of us took a few steps forward on the sand, as if to pick up the fruit, and shouted from where he stood, “Are they here? Or there? Tell me where they are, and I shall dig the sand in that place, to take them.” Baba replied, from where He was sitting, “Dig anywhere.” So, he bent low and sat on the sand and dug into it about three feet, in great earnest. He said at last, “Swami! I do not see any mango here!” Baba said, “Boy! You can get it there! Try, reciting the Name of God! Kashte phale” (Fulfilment only through tireless labour)!

So, my friend dug a depth of a few more inches, saying aloud, “Sai Ram,” “Sai Ram”. All of a sudden He was shocked into a strange terror when his fingers touched something soft and cold! For, it was the burial ground; it might well be a corpse! Seeing him, Baba (young Boy that He was) rolled on the sand laughing loudly at his plight. We too laughed with Him. “My dear fellow! It is not a dead body” said Baba, and asked me to go and help my friend. “It is a fruit, a fruit,” He told us.

“Go and see,” He ordered me and so, I went and peeped into the hole. O, the fragrance of ripe mango! Baba said, “He sees a corpse; you say it is fragrant! Whose word is true? Dig a little more, and bring me what you get!”

We made a wider hole and dug a little deeper; we called out Sai Ram, often. We got a nice Mulgoa mango, cold to the touch as if it had been taken out of a fridge just then. We took it to Baba and asked, “Swami! How can this one fruit suffice for five of us?” Swami had a knife in His hand (wherefrom it came, we could not guess). He started slicing the fruit and distributing the pieces to us, the taste was unimaginably sweet and lasting. Our stomachs soon became overfull. “Enough, Baba! Enough!” we cried.

Swami said, “There is half the fruit still with Me. Who will eat this?” We prayed to be excused. “Impossible, Swami! We cannot eat any more,” we swore. But, Baba did not yield. “Look here! The cremation ground, the burial place is here. I shall call ghosts to terrorise you. Eat, without protest,” He commanded. As the mother feeds the child persuading it to swallow each morsel threatening it with `a tiger’ or `thief’, Baba fed us the entire fruit that day!

Extracted from an article by P. Lakshmiah in Sanathana Sarathi, May 1970

An Early Western Visitor Speaks: – Early Devotees

From ‘Man Of Miracles’ – Howard Murphet

“Now he told me something about the ashram. Its name is Prasanti Nilayam, meaning the “Abode of Great Peace”. About seven hundred people live here permanently, while hundreds are coming and going all the time. The residents occupy the inward-facing terraced houses around the perimeter. The visitors occupy whatever space is available at the time perhaps a room in one of the large buildings, perhaps a spot of floor in one of the open sheds, perhaps a corner on the Post Office verandah, or at times of great festival crowds, the bare brown earth beneath a tree. People like myself, who have been softened by the creature comforts of western civilisation, Baba usually puts in the furnished guesthouse.

In the early morning I had heard strange but soothing sounds of Sanskrit chanting. Now I learned that it came from the school where boys and youths are studying the Vedas. They are not only learning to read the Sanskrit of these works but also to recite it by heart. They are being taught by pundits to chant the texts with the correct intonation and emphasis, as was done in India’s ancient days. The reason for this is that the uplifting spiritual benefits of the Vedas come from the mantric effect of the sound as much as from the meaning of the words. That is what the ancient writers tell us, and having been subjected to some of the chanting myself I don’t find it hard to believe them. There are very few schools like this one in India today; perhaps because it normally takes about seven years to learn one Veda, as Mr. Kasturi informed me, and there are four of them. Over twenty years to master the lot, and no commercial rewards to speak of at the end of it all! But Sai Baba seems determined, against the surging tide of materialism in modern India, to revive her ancient spiritual culture.

The ashram also has its own canteen where I had been invited to have my meals, but I was told that as I was Baba’s guest I must not pay. The accommodation was also free and I had been given a set of free books! It seemed I was not allowed to pay for anything. But perhaps I could make a donation at the end of my stay, as one does at most ashrams in India. This point I queried with Mr. Kasturi.

“No,” he said emphatically, “Baba will not accept donations. He never takes money from anyone.”

“He seems to have some wealthy followers,” I replied, “Perhaps they give financial help to the ashram.”

“No,” Mr. Kasturi smiled. “But don’t take my word for it; ask them yourself. Many will he arriving in the next few days for Sivaratri.”

“What’s that?” I queried.

He explained that it was the great annual festival to the god Siva, that many thousands came to Prasanti Nilayam for it, and that during the festival Baba always performed two great miracles in public.

I decided then and there to wait for the festival Of Sivaratri (Siva’s night) and see the miracles. In the meantime I would read Sai Baba’s story as written by N. Kasturi, talk to his followers, and get close to the great man himself whenever I possibly could. Kasturi gave me hope that I might be called for an interview fairly soon, although Baba was very busy.

During the next few days, in fact, I was fortunate in being invited to several group interviews. For these a dozen people gather in one of the interview rooms at either end of the bhajan hall, or “prayer hall” as it is sometimes called. Sai Baba sits either on the one chair, or else on the floor – depending, it seems, on his whim – and the people sit cross-legged on the floor, fanning out in a rough circle about him. On each occasion I managed to get as close as possible to him and sat to his right within a couple of feet of the hand that performs the magic.

These group interviews usually begin with some talk on spiritual subjects. Baba invites someone to ask a question; then in the answer he expounds on such matters as the meaning and purpose of life, Man’s true nature, and the way he should strive to live in order to reach the goal. The teachings are always clear, vivid, and intensely practical.

Towards the end of each meeting, if some people have personal problems, he may take them into another room one by one or in family groups. But never a meeting went by without Baba producing at least one item besides the vibhuti he always produces, with his theurgic hand-wave. Pendants, chains, rings, necklaces and other objects I have watched him pluck from the air in this way and then give to some delighted individual.

He apparently knew my suspicions of him were not yet dispelled, because he still pulled his loose cuffless sleeve up before taking an object from nowhere. But on one occasion he did not need to raise the sleeve above suspicion. It was a very hot day and he was wearing a robe with short sleeves that came only to the elbow. Now, as if he would exorcise, once and for all, the sceptical spirit within me, he let his right hand lie open, palm upward, on the arm of the chair within a few inches of my eyes. If I had been a palmist, I might have read the lines and mounds on the small palm and slim graceful fingers. I could certainly be quite sure that no items, however small, were concealed there.

Then he lifted his hand from where it lay, and began to circle it in the air about eighteen inches from my face. One moment the hand was empty, the next it was holding something big that protruded brightly on either side of his fist. He shook this out to reveal a long necklace of coloured stones. It was what the Indians call a jappamala which, like the Christian rosary, is used for prayers. Its regulation size is one hundred and eight stones or beads. There, was nowhere in three-dimensional space that a conjurer could have hidden such a bulky object and produced it under these circumstances. Baba gave it to a grey-haired lady on his immediate left. When he placed it around her neck, she was so overcome that her eyes filled with tears and she went down on her knees to touch his feet.

Every day now saw the crowd swelling. The buildings were all full and people were beginning to spread their beds under the trees. In this gathering tide of dark-faced, white-robed Indians I was the only western male. Bob Raymer having returned to his home in California. Among the ladies there were only two pale faces left, ochre-robed Nirmalananda and Gabriela Steyer.

Yet I did not feel like a foreigner: I felt that I was among brothers, and was completely happy. One could hardly be otherwise with brotherly love shining in every face and inspiring every word and action. Any stranger was your acquaintance in minutes and your close friend within an hour, anxious to help you in every way and eager to tell you about the wonderful things that Sai Baba had done for him or some members of his family. “


Howard Murphet was one of the first Westerners to be made welcome at Sai Baba’s Ashram.  I am not sure what year he found Sai Baba but one would think it was in the 1960’s….


To avoid confusion: Sai Baba had a Trust Fund created to accept  anonymous donations which enabled the ashram to develop and eventually all other buildings.

Heart to Heart – Youtube : Heart Sutra – Imee Ooi – Sathya Sai Memories

I met a lady who holds an important office in Swami’s setup. She had many interviews, many visits to her home from Baba, and much more contact besides, especially at Whitefield, where she did the Arathi to Baba for many years. Then she was suddenly, so to speak, ‘Cut off.’ But instead, vibhuthi began to issue from the feet of a Krishna statue Baba had given her.

When the opportunity arose, she asked Baba why he had withdrawn physically from her and her husband. He replied, that they had not fallen from grace at all, but it was because they had grown up now. Later when her husband had died, Baba would ask her, Where is he? She’d reply, Swami, he’s with you. Each time he confirmed, Yes, he is right here, and would touch his heart.


The Sikh traveller

A Sikh on a train travelling somewhere in India was reading a copy of Sanathana Sarathi. His story is that Baba had confirmed a prediction made to him when he had been a small boy in the 1920’s, before Sai’s birth.

A wandering Sikh holy sadhu had told him and his brother that as he was himself about to die, he wanted them to know that, unlike himself, they were to be very fortunate indeed to be alive when the Avatar would incarnate. He would have a big crown of hair. Look like a woman and wear a robe. The Sikh recalled this prediction first when he saw a picture of Sai Baba decades later. He later visited Swami, who told him, Yes, I am the one who looks like a woman. The Sikh does not visit Sai, but lives in a house which Sai showed him in a dream, and which later he found and bought.


Who was he ?

An overseas devotee attended Baba’s college in the late 1970’s. While a student at the college, he became very homesick and wanted to return home, even though Baba had requested he stay on for the full two year programme. The student however, had made up his mind to go home.

Upon trying to leave India, during his travels through Bangalore, Calcutta and Hong Kong, nothing seemed to work out for him. He continuously missed buses, trains and flights.

During the flight into Hong Kong, with very little money, he met a group of travellers who offered to help him find a hotel.After settling down that evening, the group decided to go out to dinner. Not having much money on him, the student decided to have only a small meal, whereas his companions were spending a great deal on food.

While at dinner, an old man with a hat sat at another table near by, and made laughing gestures at their party.

The old man concerned the group so they confronted him, but he would say nothing but continue to make strange gestures. Then when they were not paying attention, the old man seemed to disappear.

After dinner, when they requested the bill, the Matre’D told them the bill had been paid by the old man. The group ran outside hoping to thank him, but he was nowhere to be found.

The student, after arriving home in his country, thought nothing of this incident.

Several months later, his parents went to see Sai Baba in Prashanthi Nilayam. In an interview, Swami told the student’s parents that the old man will not continue to pay for his food bill.

– from a friend at Prasanthi Nilayam,1996