Life is a pilgrimage, where man drags his feet along the rough and thorny road. With the name of God on his lips, he will have no thirst; with the form of God in his heart, he will feel no exhaustion. The company of the holy will inspire him to travel in hope and faith. The assurance that God is within call, that he is ever near, nor is he long in coming, will lend strength to his limbs and courage to his eye.
Remember that with every step, you are nearing God; and God too, takes ten steps toward you when you take one step towards him. There is no stopping place in this pilgrimage; it is one continuous journey, through day and night, through valley and desert; through tears and smiles; through death and birth; through tomb and womb.
When the road ends and the goal is gained, the pilgrim finds that he has traveled only from himself to himself, that the way was long and lonesome, but the God that led him unto it was all the while in him, around him, with him, and beside him! He Himself was always Divine. His yearning to merge in God was but the sea calling to the Ocean! Man loves, because he is Love! He craves for melody and harmony, because He is melody and harmony. He seeks joy, for he is joy. He thirsts for God, for he is composed of God, and he cannot exist without him.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol. V111. pp 38-39
Today being the first anniversary of the passing of Sathya Sai Baba, I would just like to share with you my last darshan experience.
Toward the end of a visit during 2010, I was seated across and at some distance from a lady I knew only by sight. Yet, for some reason, she turned round to me and looked me straight in the eye in a sort of loving way. After darshan, she stopped to speak to me, saying, “Are you leaving?” – I said “yes.” She said, “Oh so soon! Come back for the birthday, there’s always good energy here at the birthday time.” I smiled and walked away. I had never visited for a birthday. I don’t like big crowds…
Of course, the birthday of 2010 was to be His last. I didn’t give it much thought at the time. While sitting in my living room on the 24th November, 2010 engrossed in something or another, I suddenly felt a sweet sensation that can only be described as “very close darshan.” The feeling was so intense, that I had to go lay down for twenty minutes of so…
It was to be my last darshan and far, far, away from Prashanthi Nilayam.
When Derek was only 8 years old, he lost his mother. The children in the school were inconsiderate and often made tactless remarks. Every night after his return from school, he cried for his mother. He often had dreams of her, where she comforted him. In a few dreams, she tried to guide him in the principles of honourable living.
However, when he became a teenager, he met a young woman who had left home and was on drugs. He took pity on her and offered her shelter in his home. Three years later they were married and later two baby boys came along and, at last, Derek had a family again.
His wife stopped craving drugs and for nine years they lived a very happy and contented life. Some years later his wife left him. According to Dutch law, the boys had to go with her. Derek felt shattered and life didn’t seem to have any meaning for him. He tried to drown his sorrows in excessive drink. It was not long before he was admitted to hospital with advanced liver failure.
The doctors told him that the prognosis was poor. Derek was speechless and felt total despair. He also became angry with God and in anger he said, “Oh God you must be a monster. If you are not a monster how could you let these terrible things happen to my life. If ever I come face to face with you I will tell you that you are a monster.” In this state of dejection, frustration and anger, he fell asleep and had a dream in which he saw a large lotus flower with himself sitting on one of the petals. In the middle of the lotus flower a person sat saying sweetly, ‘God is Love, God is Love. Come to me.’
The dream was so real that as soon as it ended he awoke and found himself shouting, “Where is he? Where has he gone and where has the lotus flower gone?” As he kept shouting, the medical attendants became alarmed. They gave him an injection to allow him to sleep more peacefully. Before he could drift into sleep, a doctor came to say that he would speak to him later, when he was off duty.
When Derek woke up the doctor was there. After listening to Derek’s dream, he pulled a book out of his pocket with Baba’s picture on it and asked him if this was the image he had seen in the dream. Derek excitedly exclaimed that it was.
Derek was very disappointed when the doctor told him that this person named Sai Baba lived in India, as Derek had no means to travel there. The doctor told him not to worry as he would pay for the fare. This unexpected gift helped Derek to regain most of his strength and happiness.
Darshan – how it was back in the 1970’s
Arriving in Puttaparthi and not knowing any language except Dutch, Derek did not know what to expect from the ashram. At the very first Darshan, Derek’s row had token number one, Derek swiftly found an excellent place in the darshan area. When Baba came out for Darshan, Derek saw him clearly, but something strange happened, and he felt like closing his eyes.
While his eyes were shut, a vision appeared in his mind. In this vision, he saw a funeral taking place. He was quite shocked to see that he was witnessing his father’s funeral, whom he had left only a few days ago. Also, a number kept appearing before his closed eyes. When he opened his eyes, Baba was standing in front of him and smiling.
Derek spoke to a Dutch lady, then described his vision to her. He didn’t know what the number in the vision meant. The lady told him that it appeared to be a telephone number in Holland. They tried this number and and indeed there was a dialling tone. A lady answered, and to Derek’s surprise, it was his sister-in-law. She seemed surprised to hear Derek’s voice, because the number had always been ex-directory and Derek had never known the number. Besides, Derek had lost contact with his brother long ago.
His sister-in-law informed him that his father had passed away three days before, and the funeral had been yesterday. Derek couldn’t believe it. This experience, apparently from Sai Baba, moved him deeply.But Derek’s condition still continued to deteriorate. He could hardly eat anything.
line drawing of a pilgrim
One day he developed three abscesses on his foot, which started to discharge, and left three large holes in his foot. These holes later healed and Derek felt relieved. Derek believes that all the poison in his body had been dissolved and his health would now improve. Today, he is fully fit and full of enthusiasm for life.
Baba told him to stay at Puttaparthi for sometime, and offer service to Dutch visitors. He now speaks English and is trying to learn Sanskrit and Telegu.
What can we say about such a story? It seems Sai Baba offers hope and inspiration to many seekers.