FROM PRASHANTHI NILAYAM, Christmas 2012 – Sathya Sai Memories

This most wonderful carol of Away In a Manger is well worth a listen for those of you interested in English Christmas music. It doesn’t come much better than this.

1. Away in a manger, no crib for His bed,
 The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
 The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
 The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.
2. The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby wakes.
 But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
 I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky.
 And stay by the cradle till morning is nigh.
3. Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
 Close by me forever, and love me, I pray!
 Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
 And take us to heaven, to Live with Thee there.
 Words: Unknown, 1885 (verses 1 & 2)
 Verse 3: Attributed to John Thomas McFarland, 1887 (1851-1913)



On my arrival since late November, the vibes in the temple have been wonderful. The darshan could not have been better and there was a peace and a respect that really touched my heart. I could not have been happier… But Christmas time has brought in the crowds big-time with many village people from all over India. There are about 10,000 OR SO I AM TOLD..  This has added a touch of chaos to the ashram, and has rather dampened the spirit of Xmas this year for the few foreign visitors who are here.
It is a pity as we only have two days in the year in which to celebrated the Christian religion and it’s traditions, and this year this has been brought down to the bare bones….. The choir has worked hard and I am sure they will sing their hearts out this afternoon. The decorations around the ashram have been lovingly created to make a festival of lights that is truly breath-taking. The inside decorations are not like those of the old days when Swami was here physically with us but they are nice all the same.
I am posting some of my favourite photos of Swami along with this update. enjoy…..
I wish you all a very Happy Xmas and New Year……


Dear Folks,

Christmas morning was pretty amazing. The day began with the Vedas, then the students played a selection of classical music on violins and other traditional western instruments which really added a touch of old-time feeling to the festivities.  Later, a sweet selection of carols were offered and for a time we were transported to a sort of Christmas Heaven for want of a better word.  And even later, a Christmas play  presented  by the students portrayed the real meaning of Christmas.    “No,” as the boy said, “Christmas is not all about yummy food and presents, Christmas is about the birth of a great teacher whose message seems to be somewhat lost in the world today…”


For the activities, I stood outside on the men’s side where a huge video screen was visible for those outside. It probably was the best place to be, for I could see the beautiful white candle, (not real of course) that stood centre stage and brought the feeling of light and sacredness to the overly  flowery stage.  The last part of this morning’s celebrations was a light-hearted and very Western concert of Christmas songs… then Bhajans ended the morning.


I loved sitting outside where I had the freedom to move around the beautiful ashram… I remained, for the  most part  of the morning, at the West gate, where I could sit on my own and truly take in the spirit of Christmas.


The decorations inside the ashram this year were arranged by the New Zealanders. The theme being hearts in silver and white on a blue background. The hearts moved on the breeze giving them a ethereal feeling. Also there were blue lights and lanterns hanging from the columns of the Sai Kulwant hall. Must say it was very pretty. The garlands on the wrought-iron gates and in the public areas were white, yellow and red and blue, a unique design that I had not seen before.


Mandir, Christmas, 2012

Back to my updates for this Christmas 


Christmas afternoon: The international children’s choir presented a collection of sweet songs on the Christmas theme and as always they performed very well. The last day, yes –  an added day that came as a surprise to us all, saw the South Africans perform a play on the birth of Jesus together with a thoughtful presentation on love to all creatures as taught by Jesus the Christ. They further emphasized the sorry state of the world and how we are destroying it by our lack of  love and love of things, (stuff)  also included  in their programme was love for all other species that we share our world with.  This kind gesture from the South African community finished the Christmas holiday presentations for this year.
( Will add Christmas at Prashanti photos soon )

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We wanted to share this touching Christian parable by Hans Christian Anderson


The Little Match Girl

So terribly cold it was, and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year. The snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. She could not find one of the slippers, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything from her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

The Little Match Girl

     Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

     She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

     She lit another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show windows, looked down upon it all. The little girl stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

     The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

     She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon day, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little girl, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall: she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year. The New Year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New Year’s day.


Derek’s Story – Sathya Sai Memories

Swami holding Jack and Jill - the two dogs he had during the early years.


This story comes from our store of  memories from way back in the early 1990’s. I never met Derek although his story was passed around from devotee to devotee at the time.

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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.

How Do You Do! – Sathya Sai Memories

  • flowers the symbol of friendship

During a recent stay at Sai Baba’s ashram in Puttaparthi, Sai, one afternoon, gave an impromptu talk. Here are some of the points he made in the talk.

“Do not make others scared of you. Do not be arrogant with others. Be  always kind. Alway be compassionate and caring toward others. Never make them fearful of approaching you.  Be friendly towards everyone.  When you meet someone, say, “how do you do.” This is my advice to all of  you here today.”

-Sathya Sai Baba – 2009

  • When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him, you will see yourself. As you treat him, you will treat yourself. As you think of him, you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

A Return to Love, page 79-Marianne Williamson



please remember we have another very interesting blog.

Two Sathya Sai Experiences – More Sathya Sai Memories


During my visit in 2008, I had the good fortune to sit for morning bhajans at the back  door entrance to the bhajan temple. (Swami sits opposite the back entrance in his wheelchair during bhajans. ) Swami came out  that morning to give darshan. It gave us all such joy. After some time he was wheeled into the Temple. We sat there motionless staring at him. He, as usual, appeared to be  in bliss. The bhajans continued for some time. During the bhajan singing, Swami called several students for a short discussion then dismissed them. He sat once more in bliss.. Swami  then  glanced over to where we were sitting and smiled.  Suddenly out of nowhere, a bunch of Jasmin flowers fell from the air into my hand! I don’t know where they came from. There were none around the temple door.  I immediately pinned them in my hair, removing the artificial rose that I had pinned into my hair that morning.  I don’t think Swami likes artificial flowers…..

p.s. During 2009 Swami ceased to sit inside the temple for bhajans. He sits outside on the veranda for all to see .

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Divine Intervention by Vibuthi
Influenza once spread like wild fire in the Sri Sathya Higher Secondary School in Prashanti Nilayam. Nearly 200 students were affected. After the evening bhajan concluded, Swami asked Dr Alreja to pay a visit to the School. The doctor found about 200 students suffering from high temperature, cough and vomiting. The infection seemed to be beyond control. It was then 8 pm. As the doctor made his way back to his room, he thought that as Swami’s room would be closed at that hour, he would report to Him next morning. At 8.30 pm, a volunteer came to tell him that Swami was waiting for him. The doctor hurried into Swami’s presence. Baba asked him, “I was waiting for you. Why have you not come to Me immediately? ” The doctor replied, “Swami, by the time I returned, it was 8 pm. I thought that your door would be closed by that hour. About 200 students are suffering there from flu. I find it impossible to arrest its spread. I am afraid, at this stage, no medicine can help. Only You can save them!”Next morning, Baba visited the school and the hospital. He walked through every single veranda and classroom. He went up to the roof also despite the Principal’s protestations that it was not properly cleaned up. Swami then called for a stainless steel bucket filled with water. He materialized vibhuthi in immense quantities and poured it into the water. He asked one of the teachers to carry the bucket around and serve the vibhuthi water to every teacher and every student. The disease spread no further from then on. Within a space of four days, every single patient recovered fully.

A.Anantha Vijaya

The Guru’s Grace – Mid. 1990’s – Sathya Sai Memories


Many times during Swami’s Darshan, I’ve received blessed Prasad. Excited devotees would buy an assortment of delicious sweets, place them on a shiny silver platter and carefully decorate the offering with an abundance of colourful flowers. Often, by the side of the sweets, lay packets of tiny golden lockets, letters and deity statuettes all lovingly arranged for his attention.

Usually, the determined devotees would wait for days for a suitable seating position where Swami could bless the platters. This would mean re-arranging the sweets, and improving on their floral skills, until finally, each platter resembled a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Often, the devotee’s efforts received Swami’s blessings. He would walk along until he reached a superbly decorated platter, stop, look and bless the sweet offering. While doing so, he would take large handfuls of the delicious selection and throw them over the seated devotees. With loud aahs! and whoops of joy, and small gestures of gratitude, the sweets would be accepted and passed around to others, or sometimes kept for loved-ones and friends.

I remember many wonderful moments with Swami as he blessed sweets. Frequently, he would throw them high into the air and one would land on my head, chin, or nose. His favourite target seemed to be my headband. Once, a sweet lodged itself between the folds of my shawl, and not until I stood to leave, did it fall on to the floor where I could retrieve it. But mostly, sweets would simply land in my lap or even beneath my cushion; how they found their way there, I’ll never know. But always, I felt elated when a blessed sweet came my way. I would keep my precious catch until a quiet moment, then eat it, slowly savouring the delicate flavour.


A Story From 1992

On one occasion in 1992, when seated in the front line at Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami came along and playfully tossed sweets to those seated all around, but missed me altogether. It had been one of those days when I had felt less than happy with myself and therefore, undeserving of a blessed sweet. Mentally, I expressed to Swami that I didn’t deserve one.

Immediately, he turned and tossed, with determined accuracy, a large toffee. The missile landed with a loud thud on my head, shattering the silent moment. This of course, left me startled, because he had read my mind!


Summer, 1995

During my summer visit last year, Swami blessed my sweet platter for the last time. I remember the occasion well, for he had playfully thrown the sweets back at me!

I had not been successful on my first attempt, for a very bewildered Swami had been offered three platters, all at the same time. He had chosen just one.

On another afternoon, I’d taken my sweets to darshan and again had been unlucky. Fortunately, on my third attempt, I was lucky enough to be seated near the verandah passage. I patiently waited through the hot afternoon until after Bhajans when he would walk back to the Poornachandra Hall.

When bhajans were over, Swami came from the temple and began his stroll along the aisle, where I anxiously sat hoping for his attention. He spotted my platter and indicated for me to hold it up high. I immediately did so, and he, playfully picked up just a few of the assortment and threw them back at me! I looked up to express my thanks, and caught him smiling from ear to ear. I noticed the luminescence of his dark eyes, and felt the immense heat radiating from him by his nearness (a characteristic not often discussed by Sai writers or devotees).

As he continued his walk down the aisle, I felt such deep gratitude, I wanted to share the blessed sweets with everyone.

As I began to joyously distribute the sweets, a lady sitting behind quietly refused the offering. I couldn’t believe it! She had been sitting there for hours, but now didn’t want a blessed sweet. I began to recalled a similar situation a week earlier, when I too, had refused one.

On that particular occasion Swami had not thrown sweets, only blessed them. The lucky recipient had offered sweets to those sitting nearby. Somehow, one had been offered to me, but I refused. I don’t know why, perhaps because he had not thrown it directly to me.

Now sitting there with my blessed platter, and painfully feeling the rejection of my offering I instantly regretted not accepting the blessed sweet from the previous week: for it is in the giving and receiving, we truly show our appreciation of one another.

Blessed sweets are PRASAD a gift from the Guru; a gift that has the power to change our lives. When a master gives food to his devotees, he is in fact, giving of his energy. If we take Prasad with this understanding, it can gladden our lives and bring us closer to him.


Blessed Prasad takes away all sorrows, all miseries, and it calms down the heart completely…


A Small Story

Here is a small story about the power of Prasad:

Once a young man came to the ashram of a master, because he was suffering from despair. It really didn’t matter what he did, the despair continued to plague his life. Eventually he prayed for it to be taken away, but nothing happened and the despair and suffering it brought now intensified.

A woman devotee tried to comfort the lad, and having received some blessed food, she broke it into pieces and gave some to him.

He ate a small piece of the food slowly and deliberately, when he had finished, he found to his amazement the despair had disappeared. He felt completely well.


And It Was Like That, He Taught Me

No matter how we receive Prasad, or what form it takes, be it sweets directly given to us by the Guru, or blessed food shared with us by others, it is always full of Divine Energy. Having accepted such blessings, we accept the Guru’s grace. The secret is to appreciate it.

A week after Swami blessed my sweet platter in 1995, he stopped blessing sweets altogether – a delightful sharing of joy, now truly missed.

I am writing this piece to thank Sri Sai Baba for the many beautiful occasions, when he threw playfully, lovingly and sometimes tenderly, his beloved Prasad. I will miss those shiny silver platters full of sweets – dreadfully.