I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love. ~ Sai Baba
Madhu with Sai Baba during his student days
Easter Sunday 2011 is the saddest day in the memory of millions of Sai Baba devotees world-wide. It was the day He passed away. The day we never thought would come, but come it did and earlier than we had expected. It was the day “Love All – Serve All” died too. I use the term Love All – Serve All, because it is a well known quotation associated with Swami and is the one loved the most and its meaning is associated with everything Sai Baba taught over the years.
So what did Love All – Serve All really stand for during Sai’s life? Well, ‘what didn’t it stand for’ might be the better question to ask. Swami had for decades, come rain and shine, come pain or illness, gave two daily darshans to the huge crowds gathered at one or the other of his ashrams. I only remember Him ever missing darshan one month, that was during his recovery from His hip replacement surgery in June 2003. I was there in Whitefield at the time, on looking back, I keenly remember how miserable and utterly soul-destroyed we all were due to not seeing our Baba, the “One Light” that so filled us with joy and energy.
When the month was finally over, He gave a glorious come-back darshan sitting on a gulf buggy. I swear it was the longest darshan I’d ever had. He also gave a detailed talk about His hip operation on that day, July, 5th, 2003. He said, “I am not this body. Body consciousness leads to untold suffering. One has to get rid of body attachment in order to enjoy peace and happiness. What is this body composed of?
This body is a den of dirt and prone to diseases; it is subject to change from time to time;
it cannot cross the ocean of Samsara. It is nothing but a structure of bones.
O mind, do not be under the delusion that body is permanent. Instead, take refuge at the Divine Lotus Feet. (Telugu Poem)”
He also gave other hints during that talk, that his time with us would not be long. And although we thought the buggy was temporary, it wasn’t. Swami no longer walked among us after the operation, he used a variety of vehicles such as the famous golf buggy that, I believe, he first used in the Whitefield Ashram and later on he used a small car, then during the last years a wheelchair.
He would move among us for another six years, although the last year He appeared extremely ill and with the additional handicap of two strokes. His strength began to fail. Still, even then he came to darshan often, never giving in to the horrible suffering of that little impermanent body, that he told us he had no attachment to.
His message remained the same: My Life is my message. My life is one of giving and sharing with others. I give you what you want, so you will want what I have come to give. Love all, Serve all. Love ever, Hurt never. The message he gave was always the same message, only made different by the quotations and words He chose to use to pass on this all-important lesson, that we are born to live, love, share, and adhere to the highest values of human life.
Heart-felt grief hit all of us on the day He left his little body. Life would never be the same again. We had lost our “Sai Light” – our “Radiant Sai,” the giver of joyful bliss, often coupled with hard life-lessons too. We were forced to face the future that would not include a physical Sai Baba. That beautiful form. He would not move among us in the flesh again. We had to do as He’d done, move on. Move on to a higher practise, one that required us to mature and seek the God within.
Isaac Tigrett had made the quotation, “Love All – Serve All” famous by using the slogan in his numerous Hard Rock Cafés, dotted all over the world. He’d been instrumental in the building of the now famous hospital in Puttaparthi. Isaac Tigrett had given a cheque for a princely sum towards the building of that beautiful building.
Oddly enough, he’d been living in the ashram at the time of Swami’s passing. He had predicted that Swami would die early in his 2009 Dallas talk, and he told us afterwards, that Sai’s passing had been no surprise to him.
In the whirl-wind of change taking place in that empty space left by the physical Sai Baba, things were changing fast. We had the drama where Mr. Tigrett claimed Baba had instructed him to build a retreat and a school somewhere in Coorg. He’d called it the 7th Ray. He was given the name, the “Living Will” by the press, however, things did not go to plan.
Meanwhile, in the small hill-top hamlet of Muddenahalli something else was unfolding, something none of us could have or would have ever imagined! Mr. Murthy, a long time devotee and senior officer there, claimed the spirit of Sai Baba contacted him, whereby instructing him to build schools and hospitals. He also claimed he’d had vivid dreams of Sai Baba.
Even more strange, an unknown student of Sai Baba, Madhusudan, emerged on the scene. This young man had a knack for mimicking Sai Baba. He had actually made quite an art of this during his student days. (How a student could mimic Sai Baba is a puzzle to me and shocking.)
A few years later during 2014, Mr. Murthy and friends, Madhusudan and Isaac Tigrett attended a gathering of former VIP and studnets in Kodaikanal. It was during that rather impassioned meeting that the “Muddenahalli Baba” aka as “The Light Body” or “Sukshma Baba,” became the invisible source for everything Sai Baba. Apparently, we learned, Sai Baba’s “subtle body” was using the former student to talk through! This affair had all the hallmarks of being delusional, because Sai Baba had often given speeches during his life-time, condemning those people who claimed he spoke to them. He said, time and again, he needed no one’s help to communicate messages. He had entire control over the universe and on all levels of life both living and dead, astral and causal.