So Much Beauty – The Persian Verses of Rumi

Have we taken Allah out of Rumi’s poems?

New Age “translations of  jalaluddin Rumi’s works have become a type of ‘spiritual colonialism.’ We in the West have been bypassing, erasing, and occupying a spiritual landscape that has been lived and breathed and internalized by Muslims from Bosnia and Istanbul to Konya and Iran to Central and South Asia.” Extracting the spiritual from the religious context has deep reverberations. Islam is regularly diagnosed as a “cancer”  by people today and we are loathed to think that the  greatness of Sufi Poems are based on the Islamic faith.

In the 1800s, colonialist-minded translators found it difficult to reconcile Rumi’s poetry with their preconceptions of Islam as a “desert religion,” whose followers were forsaken with “unusual moral and legal codes.” In the twentieth century, prominent translators, such as R. A. Nicholson, A. J. Arberry, and Annemarie Schimmel, made limited headway into producing versions that stayed more true to the original Persian prose, but these translations have not been the most widely circulated among Western readers.

earlier translations of Rumi’s works – possibly

by R.A. Nicholson

That title is held by Coleman Barks, the American poet and interpreter responsible for re-introducing Rumi’s poetry for English-speaking audiences in recent decades. Barks, who does not speak Persian and is not trained in Islamic literature, has recast earlier translations of Rumi’s works into “fluid, casual American free verse,” according to Christain Science Monitor.

For his part, Coleman Barks sees religion as secondary to the essence of Rumi. “Religion is such a point of contention for the world,” he told me. “I got my truth and you got your truth—this is just absurd. We’re all in this together and I’m trying to open my heart, and Rumi’s poetry helps with that.” One might detect in this philosophy something of Rumi’s own approach to poetry: Rumi often amended texts from the Koran so that they would fit the lyrical rhyme and meter of the Persian verse. But while Rumi’s Persian readers would recognize the tactic, most American readers are unaware of the Islamic blueprint. Some have said, compare reading Rumi without the Koran to reading Milton without the Bible: even if Rumi was heterodox, it’s important to recognize that he was heterodox in a Muslim context—and that Islamic culture, centuries ago, had room for such heterodoxy. Rumi’s works are not just layered with religion; they represent the historical dynamism within Islamic scholarship.

Rumi used the Koran, Hadiths, and religion in an explorative way, often challenging conventional readings. One of Barks’s popular renditions goes like this: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. / I will meet you there.” The original version makes no mention of “rightdoing” or “wrongdoing.” The words Rumi wrote were iman (“religion”) and kufr (“infidelity”). Imagine, then, a Muslim scholar saying that the basis of faith lies not in religious code but in an elevated space of compassion and love. What we, and perhaps many Muslim clerics, might consider radical today is an interpretation that Rumi put forward more than seven hundred years ago.

Such readings were not entirely unique back then. Rumi’s works reflected a broader push and pull between religious spirituality and institutionalized faith—though with a wit that was unmatched. “Historically speaking, no text has shaped the imagination of Muslims—other than the Koran—as the poetry of Rumi and Hafez,” it is said. This is why Rumi’s voluminous writings, produced at a time when scribes had to copy works by hand, have survived.

“Language isn’t just a means of communication,” the writer and translator Sinan Antoon has said. “It’s a reservoir of memory, tradition, and heritage.” As conduits between two cultures, translators take on an inherently political project. They must figure out how to make, for instance, a thirteenth-century Persian poet comprehensible to a contemporary American audience. But they have a responsibility to remain true to the original work—an act that, in the case of Rumi, would help readers to recognize that a professor of Sharia could also write some of the world’s mostly widely read love poetry.

Jawid Mojaddedi is now in the midst of a years-long project to translate all six books of the “Masnavi.” Three of them” have been published; the fourth is due out this spring. His translations acknowledge the Islamic and Koranic texts in the original by using italics to denote whenever Rumi switches to Arabic. His books are also riddled with footnotes. Reading them requires some effort, and perhaps a desire to see beyond one’s preconceptions. That, after all, is the point of translation: to understand the foreign. As Keshavarz put it, translation is a reminder that “everything has a form, everything has culture and history. A Muslim can be like that, too.”

earlier translation

Have we hi-jacked Rumi and moulded him to our own understanding – Yes indeed,  is that a bad thing? No! Indeed no. We have not destroyed the original Rumi and who would want to? We have  expanded on his wonderful poetry and by so doing, opened him and his works to an international audience and an entirely new generation. I think we have done good! 

Excerpted from Rozina Ali’s recent article The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi

Link to article

Old Mandir – Puttaparthi – History and Photographs


Photos and You Tube from Old Mandir-Puttaparthi page on Face book with thanks. People interested in the early years of the Sai Baba’s journey, might like to visit the page so lovingly set up with all details of that time including a wealth of very old photographs.  During my stay in Puttaparthi in 1992, I visited the Old Mandir once or twice and was thoroughly delighted by the way it had been kept faithfully to those early days. Sadly a few years later they demolished the old Mandir to replace it with the modern one we see there today. I wish they had not ruined such a priceless piece of spiritual history, that would have been of such interest today, especially  to a new generation of young people who never knew Sai Baba.


my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.
my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.




A day at the Old Mandir-1

During those days there were no rituals like omkaram,suprabhatam or nagarasankirtan. Swami was everything for devotees. At 3 AM one could hear farmers going to their fields, singing folk songs. That was the Omkaram for devotees those days. At 5 AM one could hear milk vendors saying ,”Please buy my curd, milk and flowers”. This was the suprabhatam for devotees. In any case they had to get up by daybreak.

At dawn, Swami would rise, wash himself and drink the hot beverage devotees offered to him, and move happily with them and talk to them also. At 9 Am devotees would offer him the breakfast they would have prepared. Swami would taste a bit from each, joke a bit and offer the same as prasadam for everyone.

After breakfast, anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair in the Old Mandir which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

Devotees would then offer harathi to Swami and everyone would do padanamaskar. While doing padapuja, Swami would ask devotees to sing with devotion, instead of mechanically.

Bhajans would start at 11 AM. There was no regular bhajans those days…..just long songs. Any person could sing during bhajans. Swami would sit on that red stone and also sing. The hall was very small and men and women sat on either side. Some men sat behind Swami fanning him. Despite that, Swami’s robe would be soaked wet due to the scorching heat. At the end of the session, Swami himself would do harathi to please his devotees and then distribute prasadam to everyone.

At 1 pm, everyone would assemble for lunch. Swami would take a little food from everybody, mix it, eat a little and distribute the rest as prasadam. Later he would rest for a while. Even in those days Swami never took sweets, ghee, milk or curds. When pressed for a reason, Swami said he had had enough during Krishnavatar.




the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir
the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir



When Subbamma heard of this offer, she quickly moved to invite Swami to move into a small hut on land owned by the Karnam family on the other side of the river.

Kamalamma then went to the ailing Subbamma and told her that their husband had planned to build a temple for the poor, but had died before he could get it built.

They agreed the land set aside for this could be given to Swami for his own use and the use of his devotees. A document writer was called and a deed of sale was drawn up. Next day, Kamalamma went to Bukkapatnam to have the deed registered.Swami went with her upto Chitravathi River. It was 25 July 1945.

Karanam Subbamma and Karanam Kamalamma gifted the land in presence of two witnesses.



The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.
The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.








In the Old Mandir anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

When Swami went to the homes of devotees it was done with great reverence and devotion.

In Venkatagiri Padapuja was an elaborate ritual.They used to place Swami’s feet ina golden plate and wash them with rose water.Then sandlewood would be applied to his feet followed by kumkum.All this with the strains of music from the singers Raman and laxmanan.

When we were students we had our own version of Padapuja.We called it Padaseva.We would take turns massaging Swami’s feet in the interview room when we got the chance.

Once Swami was sitting with some of His students in the interview room and all the boys had the great opportunity to press Swami’s Feet. And Swami asked this question, what is Pada Pooja?

One of the boys seated next to Him said, Swami what we are doing is Pada Pooja.

Swami said, No, no… this is not Pada Pooja. And then someone had a little higher understanding of telling Swami – in fact our tears of gratitude are like ‘Toyam’ and ‘Patram’ and the Phalam are all our merits and demerits that we offer at Your Lotus Feet.

You know He wanted to give a little better understanding and Swami said no, no, no.

Swami went on to say that true Pada Pooja is when the Lord in human form leaves His Footprints – to walk in His Footprints.



The Sathyabhama temple in the early years
The Sathyabhama temple in the early years



Sai Baba as a young man -
Sai Baba as a young man –




During the foundation-stone ceremony of the Old Mandir a very strange incident occured.

When the servant, Gooni Venkata (Venkata with the hump) , dug at the spot indicated by Swami , so that consecrated stones could be laid as foundation, a large number of stone bases used as stands for lingams were discovered.

But strangely enough, no lingams could be found, though a vigorous search was made. Dozens of bases – but not a single lingam.

People gathered round Swami and sought the answer.

Swami told them, pointing a finger at his stomach, “The lingams are all here.”.

The first Lingodbhavam – 1947

This was the first time Swami manifested a Shiva Lingam.

There were less than a dozen devotees gathered at Puttaparthi on this auspicious day.

Swami was adorned in white and sat upright in his chair drinking plenty of water.

A swelling in his stomach was evident.

The ‘swelling’ moved up and emerged out of His mouth in time, as a Lingam.

Old photos of Sathya Sai baba - Old Mandir
Old photos of Sathya Sai baba – Old Mandir


Darshan on the men's side, Puttaparthi Ashram
Darshan on the men’s side, Puttaparthi Ashram – before the new huge Sai Kalwant Hall was built




“Today scientists are trying to understand this power of attraction in
Nature. Take, for instance, a temple. Thousands of people go to the
temple for worship. The magnetic power in the earth extends to the
idol in the sanctum. The thoughts of the worshippers are also
attracted by the idol. Thereby the power of attraction in the idol
gets intensified. The rituals performed for the idol also enhance its
power of attraction. This process can be noticed if a couple of nails
are kept near a magnet. After two days it will be found that the nails
also have been magnetised. In the same manner when worshippers go to a
temple the power goes forth from thousands of worshippers, the power
or action in the idol gets immensely intensified. The idol surcharged
with this power is able to energize the worshippers.

Thus, in the world there is no object without this power. Atomic
energy is present everywhere. It is only when the true character of
this atomic power is understood that the power of the Divine can also
be understood.”

– Sathya Sai Baba

I Have Found The Heart

I will never leave this house of light,
I will never leave this blessed town
for here I have found my love
and here I will stay for the rest of my life.
If this world turns into a sea of trouble
I will brave the waves and steer the ship of my mind
To the safe shore of love.

If you are a seeker looking for profit,
Go on and may God be with you,
But I am not willing to exchange my truth;
I have found the heart and will never leave
This house of light.
~ Rumi
ghazal 1653; translated by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi


Here’s a few of my photos taken this Spring. I have been working on abstract photography for a few weeks now. These samples are some of the ones I really like. I thought I would post them along with the Rumi you tube, they sort of complement each other. Eve







Sacred Feminine, the Matrix Of Creation

Youtube, I created this for today’s post.  (Eric Clapton’s rather sweet song  ~ In the sun, the rain, the snow, Love is lovely, let it grow.) enjoy! 🙂


I believe I can never reach spiritual bliss – “anand”- without a deep understanding of the ‘Divine feminine’. The Divine Feminine has been put on the back burner for eons now. We’ve swept her away, like dust under the carpet. Yet, the Sacred Feminine requires all of us to come into acceptance of ourselves as we exist and breathe in Our Mother. In as much as we are able to realize that we are her daughters and sons, we realize we are becoming her. She has been and is known by many names and by no name at all. In many cultures and within our own intuitive heart centers, she abides. For most of us, our love of her knows no bounds and is teeming with gratefulness for her many gifts, she has given us and continues to impart to us on a daily basis. Both sacred and mundane, she reminds us that nothing is separate or apart from her, because absolutely everything is in her. This divine feminine is compassionate, courageous, and humble. She  is not reigned over by the five vices – lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment, and ego – but is in control of them. She already exists in men and women, but now we need to tap into her universal femininity.

I often use flowers as a way of connecting with the Inner Feminine, for her spirit is very much in nature. The flower garden is a constant reminder of how bountiful and Sacred She is.

 Image from Face Book

Image from Face Book


By Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

 The feminine is the matrix of creation.  This truth is something profound and elemental, and every woman knows it in the cells of her body, in her instinctual depths.  Out of the substance of her very being life comes forth.  She can conceive and give birth, participate in the greatest mystery of bringing a soul into life.  And yet we have forgotten, or been denied, the depths of this mystery, of how the divine light of the soul creates a body in the womb of a woman, and how the mother shares in this wonder, giving her own blood, her own body, to what will be born.  Our culture’s focus on a disembodied, transcendent God has left women bereft, denying them the sacredness of this simple mystery of divine love.

What we do not realize is that this patriarchal denial affects not only every woman, but also life itself.  When we deny the divine mystery of the feminine we also deny something fundamental to life.  We separate life from its sacred core, from the matrix that nourishes all of creation.  We cut our world off from the source that alone can heal, nourish and transform it.  The same sacred source that gave birth to each of us is needed to give meaning to our life, to nourish it with what is real, and to reveal to us the mystery, the divine purpose to being alive.

Because humanity has a central function in the whole of creation, what we deny to ourself we deny to all of life.  In denying the feminine her sacred power and purpose we have impoverished life in ways we do not understand.  We have denied life its sacred source of meaning and divine purpose, which was understood by the ancient priestesses.  We may think that their fertility rites and other ceremonies belonged only to the need for procreation or a successful harvest.  In our contemporary culture we cannot understand how a deeper mystery was enacted, one that consciously connected life to its source in the inner worlds, a source that held the wholeness of life as an embodiment of the divine, allowing the wonder of the divine to be present in every moment.

The days of the priestesses, their temples and ceremonies are over, and because the wisdom of the feminine was not written down but transmitted orally (logos is a masculine principle), this sacred knowledge is lost.  We cannot reclaim the past, but we can witness a world without her presence, a world which we exploit for greed and power, which we rape and pollute without real concern.  And then we can begin the work of welcoming her back, of reconnecting with the divine that is at the core of creation, and learning once again how to work with the sacred principles of life.  Without the intercession of the divine feminine we will remain in this physical and spiritual wasteland we have created, passing on to our children a diseased and desecrated world.

The choice is simple.  Can we remember the wholeness that is within us, the wholeness that unites spirit and matter?  Or will we continue walking down this road that has abandoned the divine feminine, that has cut women off from their sacred power and knowledge?  If we choose the former we can begin to reclaim the world, not with masculine plans, but with the wisdom of the feminine, the wisdom that belongs to life itself.  If we choose the latter we may attempt some surface solutions with new technology.  We may combat global warming and pollution with scientific plans.  But there will be no real change.  A world that is not connected to its soul cannot heal.  Without the participation of the divine feminine nothing new can be born.


The Flowers God Loves – Sathya Sai Quotations





This is an old post from long ago. I have updated it with new images and also added several quotes from From Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana, a new translation into English of a book Sai Baba wrote a long time ago. The book ‘Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana’ is an authentic translation of Swami’s words written originally in his native Telugu, then translated “precisely” into the English language. At first glance, the words and sentences are not easily understood by English speakers, because of the phrasing used at the time the book was translated.  But the book is all Swami. Indeed it is!  From my point of view, the simple and beautiful translation is more meaningful than many other translations of his collective works.




Here are a collection of Sai’s quotations, where he touches on the idea of flowers. It is an interesting theme for Sai devotees who enjoy studying Sai’s collection of spiritual books.


1.The most complete explanation of Ashta Pushpam is in: ‘Sathya Sai Speaks,’ Vol. 15. Chapter 9, “The Flowers that God Loves.” All chapters are a beautiful explanation of  the meaning of the flowers used for worship.

2. “Of course, floral offerings are commendable. The sixteen items are good. But, one should progress from this stage to the awareness of the Aathma. Flowers fade and wither. The effect of offering flowers may not last long. What God loves more are the flowers blossoming on the tree of man’s own life, fed and fostered by his own skill and sincerity. They are the flowers of his virtues grown in the garden of his heart.” (‘Sathya Sai Speaks,’  Vol. 15. Chapter 25, “The Garden of The Heart”). In this chapter Swami clearly explains the properties of flowers from the heart’s garden.

3. “Eight types of flowers can be offered to God, viz, (1) Ahimsa (Non-violence), (2) Indhriya  Nigraha (Control of senses), (3) Sarvabhootha Dhaya (Compassion towards all beings), (4) Sathyam (Truth), (5) Dhyaanam (Meditation), (6) Shaanhti (Peace), (7) Vinaya (Humility), (8) Bhakthi (Devotion).” (‘Sathya Sai Speaks,’ Vol. 16. Chapter 3, “Ceiling on Desires – 1″).

4. “Since you cannot swim across the flooded stream, you board a raft. So also, since you cannot master the Nirguna (formless), you resort to the Saguna (form with attributes) and struggle to swim across to the Nirguna through Araadhana and Upaasana (worship and contemplation).

But it is not advisable to remain ever on the raft, amidst the currents and whirlpools, is it not? You must discard this conventional Araadhana some day and reach higher. Pathram, Pushpam, Phalam, Thoyam, (leaf, flower, fruit, water) – are all primers for the initial stages when children join schools. Clean the mind of all the animal and primitive impulses which has shaped it from birth to birth. Otherwise, just as milk poured into a pot used for keeping buttermilk curdles quickly, all the finer experiences of truth, beauty and goodness will get tarnished beyond recognition.”

(Sathya Sai Baba. Discourse) ” Primers of Spiritual Education.” 26 Oct 1961, Prasanthi Nilayam;


Beautiful Clematis
Beautiful Clematis

The inherent joy derived in the process of performing karma is not found in its fruits. The immense joy that one derives while performing karma is like a stream of joy. Will an artist stop painting if money is offered to him? If you offer money to a poet to stop composing poetry, will he do so? Do real artists submit themselves to these kinds of deals? They derive purest joy in expressing their art. That joy is the true fruit of those karmas. In comparison, its external fruit is negligible. The word karma is used in the sense of swadharma. (ones particular duty. We eat, drink and sleep. All these are karmas, but not in the way the word “karma”  is referred to in the Gita. There, the word means “to follow one’s path or dharma.”  In this way, those karmas performed in introspection, is referred to as vikarma in the Gita. Karma is the solid state, (Sthoolarupa), or to follow one’s Dharma. Concentrating is chitta (consciousness), while external karma is “vikarma.” When we offer our salutations to somebody, if we do not bow our heart along with the head, the external salutation has no value. The external and the internal should be unified.

From Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana


iris in the rain
Iris in the Rain

Whether one remains in the affairs of the world (samsaara) or renounces it thinking that everything depends on God’s will,  and offers everything to God and performs one’s karma, there is nothing one can do beyond this.  Just as the quantity of bread depends on the quantity of flour, so is it  jnana of the divine realm that one attains, and  depends on the devotion (bhakthi) that one has gained. It is an act of insanity to search for jnana in a place where there is no dedication or true worship to God. Undeterred faith is essential for God to reveal himself. Undeterred faith in chanting His name and is essential for the revelation of God. Discriminate between the permanent and the transient. To kill others, one may require swords and spears, but to kill oneself – is not a small needle enough? In order to preach to others, one has to study many scriptures (shastras) in order to attain revelation of God; repetition of a single mantra is enough.

From the book Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana

The Opening Of Eyes – Inspirational Poems



I was out in the garden this afternoon looking for flowers to photograph. I came across the first “Forget Me Not” flower of the season. I rarely take photos of these flowers, due to them being so small. I was really happy with this photo though, the leaves with the raindrops gave it a real feeling of prettiness. According to an ancient legend, a knight about to get married, dressed in his armor, was taking a ride along a river with his fiancée. His fiancée saw an extremely beautiful bunch of blue flowers rocking on the waves, and asked her paramour to pick them up. As he reached over to get them, the knight slipped and fell into the river.

The heavy armor hindered him from swimming and he started sinking into the water, but not before throwing her the blue flowers and shouting: “Don’t forget me!” This beautiful flower came to be known as Forget-me-not, associated in the language of flowers with true love – the love that never dies.


The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

— David Whyte
from Songs for Coming Home
©1984 Many Rivers Press

The Wise Deer – Myth And Legend

Sri Yogananda and the 16h Karmapa have both stated most strongly, one of the worst actions a human can do is hunt wild animals. There is no gain in killing an innocent animal for the sake of blood sport, yet often the richest people and the most powerful among us, in all countries, indulge in blood sports. Those who do not need to kill for food or for any other reason than for taking life are attracting to themselves very bad  karma in future.

Although it was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, hunting is now nothing more than a violent form of recreation that the vast majority of hunters do not need for subsistence.(1) Hunting has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.(2,3)

Less than 5 percent of the U.S. population (13.7 million people) hunts, yet hunting is permitted in many wildlife refuges, national forests, and state parks and on other public lands.(40 Almost 40 percent of hunters slaughter and maim millions of animals on public land every year, and by some estimates, poachers kill just as many animals illegally.

The Tale Of  The  Wise Deer – Buddhist

It is written in the great books of the East, the Buddha once took on
an incarnation of a beautiful deer, possessing the qualities of
strength, swiftness, intellect and above all a deep love for all

Like all deer he lived simply and according to his dharma. He ate
grasses and berries and drunk only pure water from the mountain
stream. In silence he wandered through the forest showing respect for
all the other creatures who dwelled there, in returned they too,
respected him.

One day the king was out hunting in the forest but he took a wrong
path and found himself in a dense and dark part of the forest where he
hadn’t been before. Suddenly between the thick trees, he spotted the
great deer grazing in a nearby glen. Over come with excitement at the
size and beauty of the animal, the king quickly laid an arrow onto his
bow. But the deer was too quick for him and ran towards a hidden chasm
where he quickly jumped over to the other side and to safety.

The king unwilling to lose the deer, followed him but when his horse
arrived at the chasm it came to an abrupt halt, hurling his royal
master into the darkness below.

The deer became aware of the silence behind him. Looking back, he saw
the riderless horse peering into the depths of the ravine and realised
that the king must be lying on the rocks below.

With wondrous compassion the noble deer slowly retraced his steps
towards the one who sought to take his life for mere sport.

At the edge of the chasm the deer looked down and saw the king laying
in a heap below. His sharp ears picked up a faint sound of moaning as
the king, obviously in pain, cried out for help.

Tears welled up in the deer’s large soft eyes,

“Oh Your Majesty,” he said,

“You command the respect and loyalty of countless subjects. Through
God’s grace you have brought goodness to the land and prosperity to
your people. I pray that you have not suffered any serious injuries
from your fall and that you will continue to rule your kingdom with
love and respect in your heart. Although I am only a creature of the
forest, I ask you to trust me because it is within my power to help
you out of your unfortunate situation – but only if you grant me

The king replied, “my armour saved me from serious wounds, but now I
suffer a greater pain and that is one of great shame for wanting to
take your life, a creature of such righteousness and compassion. I
accept your offer of kindness. But first, tell me why you would risk
your life to help the one who sought to kill you for sport?”

The deer answered, “does not the Lord of Life who illumines my heart
also illumine yours? Beyond the superficial awareness that I am a deer
and you are a man lies the supreme Truth that within us burns the same
light of God. So in saving your life, O King, I acknowledge and honour
the divine Self within us both.”

Then the deer began his perilous journey to the bottom of the ravine.
The King embraced the sacred animal, who knelt to allow the king to
climb onto his back. Carefully the deer climbed up the rocky path to
the horse waiting patiently at the top.

Once the king was safely on his horse again, he asked the deer to
return with him to the palace where he would live his life protected
from hunters in the palace gardens.

“Your offer is very kind,” answered the deer,

“But my home is in the forest with my family and other creatures. If
you really want to help me, then protect the forest by banishing
hunting altogether. Let the animals live in peace and according to the
laws of nature. If you agree to this your life will be ennobled and
you will be a monarch of supreme virtue and wisdom.”

Then the Deer bestowed his grace upon the king and turned and walked
back to his sylvan domain, leaving the king to return home with a
profound realisation of the sanctity of life.

– Anon

1994 Group Interview – More Sathya Sai Memories


An American Interview on Ganesha’s Birthday

Saturday, September 10, 1994

“The Ceremonies”

Ganesha’s birthday was the previous day and I had just loved the entire event. The crowd was huge and we sat for a very long time in the mandir courtyard through all the ceremonies of Swami breaking the coconut in front of Ganesha’s new statue, placed on a pedestal inside the central arch of the mandir. Parade after parade of students passed in front of Swami as He sat in his swivel chair on the ladies’ side by the verandah. Each group proudly displayed its float of Ganesha. There was nearly an hour and a half of the most beautiful bhajans ( many of them Ganesha, I think ) with each voice sweeter than the last. The sound system was fantastic and so were the musicians.

The tablas (small drums ) were fabulous and all the lead singers had beautiful voices.


By the end of the day, I was feeling a tremendous satisfaction and a deep peace settled over me. I was so carried away, I even faxed a girlfriend in California about the wonderfulness of the day’s events so that they would remember Ganesha’s birthday at our Marin County Friday night bhajans.

Upon awakening on Saturday, I was still feeling the sense of peace and satisfaction. When leaving my room for morning Darshan, I looked at my two U.S.A. group scarves, one red and the other white with U.S.A. embroidered on it and the other one, white with blue and red U.S.A. embroidered on it. I just couldn’t get interested in wearing a scarf. I figured there would be huge crowds still and no interviews. Usually I took both scarves with me, but this day I deliberately left the white scarf behind and wore only the red scarf because it could be seen so easily through the crowds and none of us had as yet found each other to regroup. I was even late for Darshan because I just had no energy.

I got in the late line and ended up by sitting on the side of the mandir sort of near Swami’s old room, where the chair ladies sit. I realized I wouldn’t get very near him, but I observed that I was very close to the place outside his old bedroom window where I had prayed and prayed and wept to Him in the dark morning hours in August of 1990 and I felt very contented to be in this sacred spot.


My Panic Sets In

Suddenly I was aware of some men way in front of me and off to the left, wearing green scarves from Spain. They were getting up and I was absolutely electrified. I sat bolt upright and the word INTERVIEW exploded in my mind. My head snapped around to the left and I saw Lila and Nalini standing up talking to a Seva Dal. Oh, Vip’s I thought. Then I saw Glenn standing behind them and they were beginning to walk toward me and the verandah and I knew it was us.

I grabbed my things and got up and started climbing over people, stepping in their laps, tripping on their feet. People were saying Sit down and I just kept saying over and over,’My group, my group’.

There was no aisle near me and about 20 rows of women in front of me, but I managed to arrive at the aisle just as Nalini, Lila and Glenn were passing and so walked with them to the verandah. Then the Seva Dal said White scarves only. I was stunned. I had left my white scarf in my room!

The Seva Dal hissed at me Hide your red scarf. I turned my head over my left shoulder while frantically trying to tuck it into my punjabi and saw about forty women with red scarves being turned back by the Seva Dal!

Lila sat cross-legged next to the building, to her left sat Nalini, and Glenn sat on the outside. I crouched down behind Nalini and Lila and tried to shrink into myself and look invisible so I wouldn’t be noticed and turned back. A couple of other women sat down behind me. I whispered urgently to Nalini and Lila to put on their red scarves too, and Nalini spoke quickly over her shoulder Don’t say anything more! I shut up.

Swami came over to us and looked down at Glenn wearing both scarves, ‘You wear two scarves, not good. If the white group is called you come, and if the red scarves are called you also come. That is cheating! You speak with forked tongue.’ His glance passed over Nalini who was wearing a white scarf and rested on Lila who had no scarf on. ‘Where is your scarf?’ He asked. In my bag, Swami, she replied. ‘Put it on’, He said. He gave me a dark look and turned toward the men. He reached out to Michael, wearing a white scarf, and gestured for him to go back and then patted Michael on the head and shoulder. Another young man wearing a red scarf was there, too, but Swami just indicated he should go into the room. We arose and went in.


Inside At Last

I was the last of our group inside the door. Swami stood inside the door as each of us passed by Him. I was still terrified He would turn me back. We sat on the floor near His chair and He closed the door and immediately waved His hand in a circle making vibhuti. I was closest to Him and put my hand out and was the first to receive vibhuti. In my head, I thought this was a good sign and maybe I wouldn’t be sent away.

Swami went to sit on His chair and then leaned forward and made three jerks with His hand and a beautiful gold chain link bracelet appeared. He indicated to a man in the back to come forward.

The man leaned forward ( somewhat supported by the other Spaniards) and, urged on by Swami, put his hand across Swami’s knees and Swami started to put the bracelet on. Then He stopped and held the bracelet up in both hands and gave two little jerks to it to make it bigger than before. Looking satisfied, He placed it around the man’s wrist.

Next, He asked another man, ‘Where is your wife?’ I’m single, the man replied. ‘You have friend’, Swami said. The man tentatively replied ‘Yes’. ‘Good friend’, Swami said. Sort of embarrassed, the man said ‘yes’ again. ‘Get married’, Swami said. ‘Marriage is good. Friend not good. Get married.’ Then Swami made three swift jerks with His right hand and materialised a gold ring almost like a wedding band for the man who leaned forward and Swami placed it on his hand and said ‘Perfect fit’.

Swami motioned for those men to go into the small interview room and looking back as He followed them in, He said to Lila, ‘Where is bender?’ She said, ‘What?’ He repeated ‘Where is bender?’ She continued to look puzzled ( I was too ) and then He said louder ‘Husband. Where is husband?’ Lila said something like ‘He is gone’ and Swami came back with something like ‘He left’ to which Lila replied, ‘No, I left him!’ Swami and the rest of us laughed and He disappeared behind the curtain of the small room.

Lila then remarked that it was hot and asked one of the men to turn on the overhead fan. He did, but another man thought the rotors were making too much noise and told the man to turn it off, which he did. The people from the private interview room came back into the room followed by Swami who sat down in His chair. He then looked up at the ceiling at the fan, got up from His chair and slowly made His way through the men to the wall and personally turned the ceiling fan on and then returned to His chair. ( I thought this was very sweet. He could have asked someone to do it for Him. ) Then it was our turn to go into the private room.


The Small Room

This time Lila was sitting next to the arm of the chair with Nalini and Glenn to her left and me behind them between Lila and Nalini. During most of this time, Lila held hands with Swami rubbing her thumb up and down His thumb.

Occasionally, He would disengage to make gestures and then He would reach back for her hand. Nalini mostly kept her hands on His feet after first kissing them.

At some point I squeezed in between them and Nalini lifted her hands off His feet and I put my hands on both His feet. It would have been too awkward from where I was sitting to try to kiss them or put my forehead on them.

First, Swami spoke to Lila Youngs about her family and told her He would get her a good job. Next, He spoke to Nalini about her family and also told her He would get her a good job.

Then I got up on my knees and, putting my hands together in prayer toward Swami, I said, ‘Please heal my arms.’ He reached out and took my elbows in both His hands and rubbed both my arms up and down and around my wrists and hands and fingers and thumbs and said ‘No peace in mind. Worry too much. I will heal.’

I immediately worried that He was going to heal my mind rather than my arms and said quickly. ‘It’s from typing on computers! I want to be able to keep working!’ He said, ‘Oh, typing, typing (and made typing motions in the air with His hands). You worry about making mistakes’ (He hit me on the head). ‘That is past, now is present! Even in Bangalore you worry, telling everyone Swami does not pay attention to me; Swami is ignoring me; Swami is not talking to me!’ (He hit me on the head again.) I said, ‘Swami, other people suffer from this, maybe you will help them also?’ He said, ‘Yes, I will help everybody.’‘Yes, yes, and I love you too.’ I love you Swami,’ I replied. To which He said, “I love everyone.”

Then He turned to Glenn and talked to her. Lila spoke up once more and asked Him something about how she could always know He was near her and He replied, ‘I am in you, around you, beside you. I am omnipresent.’ Then He stood up abruptly and patted Lila on the head and said, ‘You are mine’ and then turned to me and said ‘You are mine’ and Nalini, ‘You are mine.’ Glen quickly asked, ‘Swami, am I yours, too?’ He replied dragging out the word ‘Yeeese,’ and we got up and went to join the others.  He kept the man with the red scarf inside for a few minutes more alone.

When Swami returned to us, He handed out small packets of vibhuti to everyone. Nalini asked for more packets for her Sai Centre, and He gave her more, and said something about keeping some for herself. I also wanted more, but I could not quite manage to ask, the words would not come. Perhaps they did, but Swami ignored them.


The Healing Is Within

Anyway, I’ve read where He has said that He can heal the mind and when the mind is healed, everything else ( the body ) is also healed. Now I am rather thrilled at the idea He will heal my mind. He has said that healing occurs when there is reciprocity of devotion from the devotee. This I must learn to do. I have enjoyed many interviews with Sai Baba and Lila and Nalini even more. Now we must all learn to appreciate our good fortune and put more trust in ‘the innerview.’ I know many of you have not enjoyed the interview experience, but perhaps for you, there is no need. Many times during my life I have been alone and down, and am now a recovering alcoholic. I am beginning to appreciate life again. But it has been a hard uphill battle. Lastly, I had given Swami a letter the week before at Brindavan. I had asked Him to heal my arms, but to do it however He felt best. He could do it instantaneously or use slower methods such as physical therapy or desk and chair adjustments or new types of keyboards, and so on. So, I feel all my prayers are now answered. Everything I asked for in that letter I have now received. For me, He has fulfilled my wishes.

Ganesha’s Birthday afterall

While it was Saturday, September 10, 1994 in India, it was Friday, September 9, 1994, Ganesha’s birthday, in the U.S.A. My Sai Centre meets on Friday nights, so while I was in the interview room with Swami, my centre was singing bhajans and celebrating Ganesha’s birthday. Therefore, by U.S.A. time in my own Centre, I had an interview on Ganesha’s birthday! What a present for me, Ganesha represents the removal of obstacles.