A Rare Sai Interview For Western Devotees in Kodaikanal – Al Drucker


Al Drucker is a prolific writer and, with his background in Physics, he is well able to write from his scientific background about Sai Baba. Many things are said about Sathya Sai Baba,  both good and bad. There was always much “doings” –  untoward, within the Sai Org. itself.  Yet, Sai’s keen followers never doubted him, despite the general setup around him. What they, themselves, experienced  and had  verified by many an in-depth conversation with their guru, their lives were changed.. Here is Al’s bio, also an interesting write-up about his Kodaikanal interview with Sai Baba way back in the 1980’s.


He completed his undergraduate and graduate work in Electrical Engineering and Physics. During his technical career following university, he became a specialist on air-to-air and intercontinental missile guidance systems, and became part of a special team responsible for the technical management of the country’s ballistic missile programs (Thor, Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, Polaris). During this time he was also on various governmental committees, serving with NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, the Federal Aeronautics Administration and other governmental bodies.

While thus engaged for many months in Washington, he became active in the early days of the Civil Rights and Voter Registration movements. This led him to rethink his societal aspirations, and shift his focus from developing missile systems to more humanitarian pursuits. After studying for some years in both the US and abroad, he changed his profession to become an acupuncturist, a homeopath, an herbalist, a group therapist, and a Rolfer. He joined the staff of Esalen Institute, at that time a recently-founded humanistic growth center in Big Sur, California, where he conducted a clinic utilizing natural healing modalities and taught a live-in course for health professionals on alternative systems of natural healing.

One day, while piloting an airplane over the California mountains, he was caught in a major storm front. After hours trapped in the violent storm, lost and running out of fuel, with his little plane coming apart, and after many unsuccessful attempts to raise a response from the ground to his emergency call, in short, when all hope for a providential rescue had faded, a calm, clear voice suddenly and inexplicably came on the radio above the din of the storm. Unbidden, the voice guided him around the worst cells of the storm towards a small mountain strip 300 miles off course. Miraculously, for just a few minutes, the field was clear of the blizzard, which allowed the plane to be set down, literally on its last remaining drops of fuel, as the engine quit just after touch-down.

Seeking the source of that beneficent voice that saved his life, but which had never identified itself, Al followed various unmistakable but mysterious leads, that led him on a metaphysical journey to India. There, Sai Baba, a great spiritual leader, spoke to Al, and without prompting, related all the details of the airplane experience, identifying himself as the voice that suddenly appeared, and told Al that it was he who had called him to India. (Not an easy pill for one trained in the sciences to swallow!)

Subsequently, Al made over 25 trips to Sai Baba and finally stayed in India for nine years to immerse himself in spiritual studies, while at the same time reverting to some of his earlier interests, by teaching classes and lecturing on astrophysics and aerospace subjects at the nearby university, as a visiting professor. At the ashram he also gave talks on spiritual topics to hundreds of overseas visitors, and published a number of books, including modern versions of the ancient Indian classics, Bhagavad Gita and Astavakra Gita. Returning to America he co-founded Atma Institute, a nonprofit school based on spiritual principles.

Sai Baba giving darshan - here he  is blessing gifts.
Sai Baba giving darshan – here he is blessing gifts.

Excerpts from an Interview given by Sathya Sai Baba and recorded by Al Drucker

(Following are the highlights of an interview given by Sai Baba to all the Western devotees (about 40) who, in the first few days, had found their way to the Srinivasan bungalow, where Baba was staying and giving darshan. This was during Baba’s first trip to Kodaikanal, circa 1984 and was compiled from notes taken by me. I consider it one of the most succinct expositions of Baba’s advaitic message, and believe it to be particularly relevant to Western devotees.)

– Al.Drucker…

Devotee: Swami, what is the best way to relate to the world?

Baba: Do not spend your time thinking about the world or your relationships to individuals. These are all impermanent. They have only to do with the body. The body is just a water bubble. The mind is like a mad monkey. Do not follow either the body or the mind. Follow the Self, the Atma. It is beyond the mind. It is permanent. It is the unchanging truth within you.

Most important, do not ever think that you and God are separate. Think always, “God is with me; He is inside me; He is around me. All there is is God. I myself am God. I am the Infinite, the Eternal. I am not two; I am one, only one. There is no one else besides me. I and God are one and the same.”

To realize this Unity, the first step is to develop self-confidence. It comes when you realize that God is not outside of you. Self-confidence means thinking all the time, “God is in me… God is doing everything… without God I cannot be… all this is God… I only want to think of God.” When there is self-confidence then there will be love, there will be peace, there will be truth, there will be God. Without self-confidence there cannot be God. So, first there must be self-confidence and love of God.

Devotee: Swami, how to do we rise up to that highest level?

Baba: Through love. Only through love. Develop divine love. Divine love is completely selfless. Human love is mostly selfishness; all the time it thinks only of the little ‘i’. That ‘i’ is the ego. The ego is a very bad quality. Ego sees everything as separate; it sees everything as dual. You must remove this ego and see only the Unity. Think only of Unity; think only of the Atma. Atma is the one unchanging Truth, the one Reality that is the basis of everything.

Devotee: Swami, is everything predetermined?

Baba: For the Atma there is no time and there is no form. It is beyond time and beyond form. In the Atma all are one. Remember that Unity. Live in that Unity. Make that your goal. All are one… be alike to everyone.

Devotee: Baba, what is the relationship between the Atma and the individual?

Baba: The Atma is everywhere. But, do you know that? No, you do not know. What you say now all comes from your imagination. You have no experience. Do some Sadhana. Realize the Atma! Always think like that… “I am the Atma. I am all.” The individual exists only in your imagination. It is just an illusion. When the Atma is one without a second, when the Atma is everywhere, where is the individual? Only in your imagination. The Atma alone is real. Realize it through meditation.

Devotee: Then there is really no higher being related to this body, judging me and guiding me?

Baba: You see, you are still in 100% body consciousness. Do not stay with this body consciousness. Remove that. What will remain will be Atma-consciousness. Then there will be no anger, no hatred, no envy, no jealousy, no hunger, no desire… only complete Ananda… only bliss, bliss, bliss!

Devotee: But then, Swami, what is reborn in reincarnation?

Baba: The body is born. Birth and death only have to do with the body. Ego also relates only to the body. Similarly, reincarnation relates only to the body. Do not think of the body. Think of the Atma. The Atma is one; it is unchanging. For Atma there is no incarnation, there is no reincarnation.

Devotee: Swami, do I exist at all as an individual?

Baba: When you realize the Atma then there is no individual. You can think of individuals as different light bulbs. There will be a differences in wattage and in color. There will be differences in shape, but everywhere the current is the same. That current is who you are. You are not the individual bulb. You are the one current in all.

Devotee: Is there any difference between I and God?

Baba: You are God. You are not the ego. You are God!

Devotee: I am God?

Baba: Yes. You are the Atma. You are permanent. The physical is not permanent. The physical is not the Atma. You are the Atma, not the physical. You are God. Think like this always. Do not think about the body. The body comes and goes; for it there is birth and there is death. But you are not the body. Body is just rust and dust. Think only of God. Love God.

Devotee: Swami, how can we love something we don’t understand?

Baba: Develop self-confidence, then love will follow; it will come naturally from within. And that way the love will be pure. First comes self-confidence, that is the foundation. Then comes self-satisfaction. It is like the wall. Next comes self-sacrifice, it is like the roof. Finally the house is complete and the Indweller is installed inside; that is self-realization. It starts with self-confidence and it ends with realizing the Self. That Self is you. It is everything. It is God. That is who you really are.

Devotee: Does self-confidence mean confidence in the Self?

Baba: Yes, self-confidence is confidence in the Atma; it is an unwavering love for the Divinity within you. That is very important. What will help you to develop that confidence? Be equalminded, be satisfied with what you have. Be happy. The secret of happiness is not in doing what you like but in liking what you have to do. That is a great truth. Always have complete faith in the indwelling God who takes care of everything. True greatness can only come from faith.

Devotee: Lord, I want to arrive very early to You. What do I have to do?

Baba: Through love, only through love. Love is everything. Love is God. Live in love. Start the day with love, spend the day with love, fill the day with love and end the day with love. That is the way to God.

Irina Tweedie, A Rare Talk, Mid 1960’s. – Irina Tweedie

Irina Tweedie, a Russian Lady, decided sometime way back in the early 1960′s to study yoga with a Naqshbandi Sufi teacher. (He was actually Hindu but took up Sufism and studied for many years under a Sufi Master, until his enlightenment.)

Irina Tweedie’s books “Daughter of Fire” and “Chasm of Fire,” tell clearly the story of a Woman’s experience of liberation through the teachings of a Sufi Master. The books  are written in the form of a diary. Her dear teacher had told her to keep a diary on their first meeting. He also told her she would one day write a book that would help enlighten seekers on the spiritual path. During her training, guruji, did not give her any specific spiritual practices. Her teachings consisted largely of her sitting in his courtyard or house, observing his interaction with other disciples and family, with occasional terse conversations with him. She was at one time thrown out of the house and had to return to England with no money. Also at one time she contemplated suicide but her guruji said, “I have not brought you this far to let you do that!” She was never treated as special on the contrary, she was often treated harshly.  Her  guriji did not treat anyone more speical than others. Yet, he gave each what they asked for and in most cases, they were not after things of a spiritual nature.

The result was one of intense stress, the cultural differences, the heat,smells, physical illnesses, and her own emotional deprivation seemed to cause a progressive emptying of her personality. Her ‘guruji’. who felt she had travelled so far for truth, gave her the highest possible teaching because she proved to be ready.  Her teacher described his method of instruction in the following way:

“..we do not teach but quicken. I am stronger than you so your currents adjust themselves to mine.” Thus causing, the stronger magnetic field to affect, quicken and weaken.”

This combination of suffering so that she would lose herself in every way, and her guruji’s continued presence and influence resulted in a very different type of spiritual experience. Her guru was not in anyway famous outside his own region of India. He was a married man with a family. Yet, his teaching was not only masterful but also thorough and majestic. The book Irina Tweedie eventually wrote, some eleven years after his death, is now considered a spiritual classic, along with those books written by Sri Yogananda. I thoroughly recommend ‘Daughter of Fire’ to seekers of all traditions.

Irina Tweedie in later life

The Talk begins: (in her own words.)

The subject for tonight is, I think, rather interesting, it deals with the powers latent in man. There are two great powers which we can achieve or  which are rather our Divine heritage. It is the Divine power from God and it is the Power of Yoga. Yoga is really union. The Sanskrit word Yoga means Union, union with God. How the yogic or Divine powers is acquired,  there are slight differences and slight difference in working.

The divine power is given. It is a state of grace. It is given only when the person has surrendered to the light within, which is One with God. Because we in the Theosophy, we believe that the soul of man is  one ray of infinite truth. Or God. I use the word God deliberately because it is short and everyone knows what I mean. The word truth or infinite light is not always familiar to people. It is all the same thing. It is all light. It is all God within and without. Like fish in water, we are in him and he is in our form. Now the divine power is given when the human being is completely surrendered to his maker. The yogic power is acquired, by the yogi or aspirant, through concentration, meditation and stilling of the mind. It is a very, very difficult process.

My dear teacher, who was a very, very great yogi of India…. I have just returned from India…. He died on the 21st of July. He left his physical body. I had to go to the Himalayan Mountains to recuperate in solitude. It was a shock, a great shock to us disciples.

My dear teacher worked with both the divine and the yogic powers. You see the working of the divine power and yogic power are a little bit different. For divine power you need faith. For yogic power you don’t need faith. And you don’t need faith for magic. But magic is a very low subject. I won’t touch that subject tonight, I am only going to speak about the yogic and divine powers.

I always remember the words of Christ when St. Peter wanted to walk on water, when he suddenly lost faith and became afraid and began to sink. Christ pulled him up and asked him where was his faith.
If you have no faith, the divine power will not work with you. In other words, if you come to a great yogi for a healing or anything. If you do not believe in him, the power will not work.

People came to my teacher for healings and others for help with the process in the law court. They want to win the case. People come to the yogi for all sorts of things and if, like my teacher, the yogi is great, if he is one with God, he will know which human being can be helped and which cannot. You see, we in the Theosophy believe in the laws of karma. Karma is the law of cause and effect. If I did evil, then evil will come to me. If I did something which is  considered good, then something good will come to me too. If the human being is sick and has great troubles and cannot be helped, this is something the person themselves have created. The yogi cannot help you. He will not hurt your feelings. He will not say I cannot help you. We disciples, we noticed one day, that our teacher use to sometimes say, “I can only pray.” This is a refusal.

Yet, if a person of faith came to him, and said, “my child is dying of smallpox or cholera” which happens often. People just die away. They cannot be helped with these cases. They die. My teacher would look at the child and say ’go home’ and give him a glass of water. The father would say, “but he cannot keep the water down”. My teacher would say “he can take the water and he will be fine. Just go home and let him sleep for twenty four hours and he will be fine“. The next day the child would be well.

I saw in my teacher’s house, a servant falling ill with smallpox. One day I arrived in his garden. There was no one there. This was very unusual. Someone came to me and said, “Mrs. Tweedie, our servant is ill with smallpox. You may be a afraid to stay.” I was not afraid as I had been vaccinated against smallpox for my journey to India. I stayed in the garden. After sometime, my dear teacher came out, he was a very old man, with a snowy white beard. He was all dressed in white. He said, “Mrs. Tweedie, you may like to leave because our servant is ill.” I said, “No I want to stay, I have had a vaccination“. He said, “our servant has smallpox.” I said, “would it not be better to send her to the hospital.” He replied, “Oh no she will be alright. I gave her a glass of water. And tomorrow she will be well.” Now this was a little bit too much for me quite frankly. Coming from the West, I had faith in my dear teacher but this was a little bit too much. I said nothing because I could not believe it, The next day the servant was washing dishes and she was full of smallpox marks. I asked, “For goodness sake is she not contagious!” My teacher said, “Oh no, I gave her a glass of water and that was that.”

I have seen the case of a mad dog who had bitten six people. Five of those died. The one who got the glass of water from guruji was alright. We called him guruji because that is the term used in India. The word ‘guru’ is teacher. The ‘ji’ is used as a term of endearment. It is like saying Sir guru….It is a Sanskrit word. Guru means the light and the dark…. Gu – ru.  He gave her a glass of water and she was alright. Like Christ he did this work.

Here in the west, I have not seen anyone cast out spirits. I have been told that some priest do it. The R.C. church has priest trained to do this work. I have never seen it. I have seen my teacher cast out an evil spirit from a boy. It was a horrific sight. The boy was rolling on the floor, foaming at the mouth. He looked like he was suffering from an epileptic fit. My teacher said it is not a fit but a spirit. He then ordered the spirit to go out.  It is was a terrific sight. My teacher was all dressed in white and very majestic. He pointed with his finger to the outline of the boy and drew an invisible line around him. The boy was lying on the floor, foaming and shouting. My teacher was saying very sternly to the spirit. “Go out or I will burn thee and all thy family”. Now, I did not know he was talking to the spirit. I thought he was speaking to the boy, and in my ignorance, I thought was a terrible way to talk to this boy when he is in this condition, then suddenly the boy became sort of blackish in his face, or blue rather and stopped shouting and was completely calm.  I said to myself, the boy has died, guruji has killed him! But after a few minutes, the boy sat up, with a perfectly normal expression on his face. He folded his hands in India salute and said, “thank you.” It was so beautiful to see the boy well. He rose and left with his father. He was from one of the local villages and he went home. I turned to my guruji and said, “well I never saw anything like this in the West.” He said, “Oh! this is nothing. When you stay with me you will see many such cases and much more of this sort of thing, It is nothing. It is the grace of God. We are given that. But we don’t care for these powers, we are not after these things.”


“We Yogis can do anything but we cannot heal everyone.”

In the afternoon, when in his garden, I asked him what he meant by the words,“I will burn thee and all thy relations“. He said, “Well those evil spirits are part of evolution, just as we are part of evolution. There are human beings, there are evil spirits, there are angels, there are all sorts of things. There are birds, and animals. These spirits are of a group soul. They are never alone. They are like a whole family. So when one is killed the others die too. I have no rights to kill a spirit. When an evil spirit enters a human being then I have a duty to help the human being because he is one of my own kind. So I cast out the spirit. But if the spirit disobeys me and comes again, I have the right to kill it.  Although I will not kill it without warning. I have to give it a warning. But if the spirit is disobedient then I have the right to kill it. I first have to give the evil spirit a warning and I give it three times. But with me it never happens! I give the warning once, it is enough. When a saint has great powers, the spirits dare not return“.  Actually the young man and his father never returned.

This is the end of part one of the lengthy talk given by Ms. Irina Tweedie on her return from India sometime in the late 1960’s. I will be translating more of the speech in the next few days and will post it when it is ready.

Watch part two here.

‘All Are Equal’ – Sri Ramana Maharshi

From The Unforgettable Years –

devotee stories from Arunachala.

Bhagavan would never tolerance any kind of preferential treatment. In fact he would repeatedly say he would be happy if the ‘others’ were shown greater consideration. Once Bhagavan stopped drinking buttermilk. Devaraja Mudaliar who used to sit near Bhagavan noticed this. “Bhagavan, we eat all the items sumptuously. But you keep giving up one item or the other. How can we bear this?” Bhagavan replied,  “They are only too ready to give me extra helpings. But when it comes to the devotees their hands are paralysed.” On enquiry I learnt that Bhagavan was provoked into making this remark because a young girl from Bangalore had been refused extra quantity of ‘sambar’ which she had asked for. All said and done there was the human weakness of the kitchen helpers.

Those who were sitting near Bhagavan and the old devotees would be looked after properly. Those who sat far away and the newcomers would be neglected.

Repeated statements from  Ramana that serivce to his devotees was the best form of service to him, would be of no avail. Hence he would stop eating or drinking some item/s, to draw the pointed attention of the kitchen-staff to impartiality. To care for all equally….


Courtesy – RamanaMaharshi’s Ashram.

under our category Ramana Maharshi,  there are many  stories, about the life and times of this great guru.

Irina Tweedie Talk Cont…..Irina Tweedie, Transcript

Irina Tweedie (1907, Russia – August 1999) was a Teacher of the Naqshbandiyya- Mujadiddiya Sufi Order.

Born in Russia and studied in Vienna and Paris, Irina Tweedie married a British naval officer after the Second World War, who then died in 1954. His death launched her on a spiritual quest that led her to India in 1959. In 1961 she met her spiritual master, Radha Mohan Lal, a Hindu Sufi Sheikh from the Naqshbandiyya-Mujadiddiya Sufi Order, whom she called Bhai Sahib (Elder Brother). She became the first Western woman to be trained in this Naqshbandi system. Bhai Sahib asked her to keep a diary of her spiritual training, which later became the book Daughter Of Fire.

After his death in 1966, she returned to England where she started a Sufi meditation group in North London. Gradually the group spread throughout Europe and North America. Irina Tweedie retired in 1992 after having named Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee as her successor.


  • The Chasm of Fire: A Woman’s Experience With the Teachings of a Sufi Master. Element Books, 1993.
  • Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master. The Golden Sufi Center, 1995.

Talk cont.

Irina  Tweedie speaks about healing and listening in to God

The yogis are very great people. They work with the Divine power. For the Divine power, you have to have the permission of God, in other words you have to ask for permission. But actually, with the spirit, there are no words, you tune in. You listen in to God, and you know which human being is allowed to be healed or not. If his deeds are such that he cannot be helped. Remember Christ’s words when he saw the blind boy. “Who has sinned, he or his family?” You never know how karma works,  but someone had committed the sin and the child was born blind. I remember, one day my dear teacher said these words, “I can only pray” and it was a refusal. He will say as I told you before, “my child, all I can do is pray.” And then the help is not given. We asked him why this is and he smiled and said, “we can do anything, but we cannot heal everyone.” Here lies the answer. Some people must not be helped because it is not the intention of God they should be healed at this time.  They have to learn a certain lesson from a certain suffering. Besides, we must not forget, that ultimate healing is death.  This again is a very interesting point. In  the healing groups, we pray for health but we must also consider that ultimate healing is sometimes death. So when you pray in the healing groups – pray that ‘His Will’ will be done. In a spiritual healing group, ask that ‘His Will’ will be done. Whatever it is, if He wishes the person to die alright. Pray that he or she  should get well but if God’s will is not like that, then alright. Surrender to thy Will…and thy Will, will be done.

Now with the yogic power you can do exactly the same as with the Divine power. There is one difference. The effects are the same, you can walk on water, you can fly in the air, you can think you are in American and you will be there.  My dear teacher knew exactly where all of his disciples lived. I have found through many proofs, that my teacher knew exactly what I was doing during the day and when I was not with him.

One day I received a letter from a friend. She was not exactly a friend as she had hurt me very much. She was ex-friend and then she became a sort of enemy. I did not like her because she hurt me very much. I remember when I got this letter, how much she had hurt me and caused me pain. The letter was not that unfriendly, but I remembered the hurts and I had very evil thoughts against her. Thoughts of hate…  I felt very unfriendly toward her. Then I remembered guruji.  Oh my God if I come in to Guriji’s presence, he will know I was thinking these bad thoughts and it is bad for me. So I tried to forget it.

Sure enough two hours later. It was five o’clock in the afternoon, I came to the garden where all the disciples were already sitting.  Guriji came to speak to someone else. You see, a teacher will talk in parables, he will not speak directly. This again is one of the important points, no great teacher in the Orient will speak directly, including Jesus. They speak in parables and you have to understand. So my teacher began to say to somebody, to a man, “you know there are some disciples who are terribly foolish, they don’t think I know what they are thinking. They receive certain letters and have evil thoughts.”

This poor man sat there looking at our teacher, because he had not received a letter and he did not know what guruji was talking about.  I sat there feeling dreadful, thinking that if Guriji had told everyone there it was me, I’d be very upset. But he did not do that. He only said, “Yes, some people are like this.” Luckily, he changed the subject to something else. And sometimes he would speak to me about something I knew nothing about. He often had fifty to hundred people sitting near him. He was a very great teacher. He had about three thousand followers. Sometimes his words were confusing. You had to feel it out in your mind and decide what was for you and what was not and that is how the disciple learns to listen in to the guru. Which is, in other words, a school of thought of listening in to the teacher and listening in to God. Mind you, the modern word for prayer is ‘listening in‘. This is really the prayer of our line of yoga, which is the Bhakti yoga line. Bhakti yoga is the line of devotion. It is very similar to the Christian way of devotion. Ánd for us Christians, it is the easiest way.  The yogic powers, you sit in a certain way, you control your posture, which is called asana, you control your mind, you have to have concentration and meditation. It is a very difficult process.You will acquire it, of course. And it works, on the surface, very much like the Divine power. But the mechanics of it are different. Here we work only with Divine power and it is given. The human being does nothing, only prays. But the Yogi wills and it will be done. With magic, they recite certain words of power and make certain circles and it is rather low. Magicians cannot have this power like my teacher had. They can do certain things but not completely and absolutely like the Almighty. We had proof that our dear teacher could do absolutely anything. There was no limit to his power. But he didn’t do it always only when permission to him was given from the Divine. This is a very interesting subject and I have only touched upon it. Now I hope you will ask me interesting questions. I can speak for another hour but I don’t know if what I say will be interesting to you. So if any one of you have a question, I will answer it to a certain satisfaction….thank you.