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

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-erasure-of-islam-from-the-poetry-of-rumi

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

 

THE GIFT DEED JULY-25 1945

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.

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

 

 

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PADAPUJA

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 –

 

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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

 

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“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


swrilh

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

 

 

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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.

http://whenthesoulawakens.org/the-divine-feminine_275.html

 Image from Face Book

Image from Face Book

 THE MATRIX OF CREATION

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

 

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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

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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

https://sathyasaimemories.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/deer_by_yaphleen-d53y92k.jpg
https://sathyasaimemories.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/deer_by_yaphleen-d53y92k.jpg

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
creatures.

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
permission.”

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

The Story of “Love All Serve All” – Hard Rock Cafe

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HOSPITAL

Until 2008, I knew precious little about the Hard Rock Cafe other than Isaac Tigrett, a Sai Baba devotee, had given a huge donation from the sale of the HRC, for a hospital to be built on the outskirts of Puttaparthi, way back in 1989. I remember the hospital in Puttaparthi being built and everyone showed keen interest. They talked about it endlessly.  But, for me, I saw this beautiful hospital as an end of the old and charming ashram.  I remember in 1991, when the foundations were laid,  my taxi driver pulled over to point out the site area, and I shuddered. I don’t know why. This was a good project, one that would help so many people. But for some odd reason, I could never visit the building site, nor the finished hospital. Did I know, on some level, one day Sai Baba would die there? I don’t know. Maybe my reasons were selfish. I knew the hospital would bring huge changes to Puttaparthi.  The old ashram that everyone adored, was about to change. It stood to reason, where there is such wealth,  change is bound to come. It did. When Isaac gave his huge donation he did so, I am sure, with an absolutely good heart to help those in need. In that he succeeded.

About the hospital. I have only visited the SS Hospital once, but briefly, during a visit in 2012. It is an awesome structure, more like a Sultan’s palace than a hospital. It’s very hard to drive along the road to Puttaparthi, and to see hundreds of small villages with shacks, huts and hovels in which the local people live, then to suddenly chance upon the SS. Hospital. It is totally bizarre. This is the story behind that hospital.  The Hard Rock Cafe was sold, I believe in 1989, to British Rank Organisation PLC.  They sold the Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, Hotels, Casinos, world-wide “rights” and Casino “rights” EAST of the Mississippi River, USA and the HRC Entertainment Group in 2007 to the Native American Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida, for US $965 million.


Isaac Tigrett first visited India in 1974, about two and half years after the Hard Rock Cafe had been established. The HRC was doing well at that time and was soon to be the most famous cafe in the world. Isaac though, felt he had another interest that was closer to his heart. That was to find the guru he felt was calling him.  He spent a long time searching for one but none of them met his needs. After a gruelling search he spent his last day in a hotel in Aurangabad.

In the hotel breakfast room in Aurangabad, a photo of Sai Baba was there on the wall.  Isaac had no idea who the person in the photos was. But all of a sudden the photo  called to him:

“I am waiting for you.”

He was stunned. How can a photo talk? He asked at the hotel reception whose picture was  on the wall. The staff told him that it was a photo of  the hotel owner’s guru and that guru lived in Bangalore. Isaac immediately flew to Bangalore, and went to Whitefield Ashram to visit the guru who had called him from the photo. He stood at the back of the tiny ashram against a wall, dressed in black and wearing shades. Then Sai Baba, who he describes as “this amazing creature floated down a tree-filled ramp across the courtyard to him and said, “You’ve come at last! I’ve been waiting for you. We are old friends. Wait here. We have much work to do together!”

Isaac waited 15 years before Sai Baba Spoke to him again. He visited Puttaparthi over the years regularly, often staying for long periods of time.


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Love All – Serve All – The Sai Baba Quotation used in all Hard Rock Cafes

Isaac’s Story: Excerpted from The Singapore 2007 talk.

Let me tell you about the Hospital. It was a wonderful and amazing thing for me. I always, from the very beginning, knew Sai was there. Of course, “Love All – Serve All,” Sai’s greatest message, I stole out of the South Indian canteen (written on the wall) in 1974, and emblazoned it in each Hard Rock Cafe all over the world. More importantly, I ran these businesses  not only on this message of love but entirely on his teachings of the five human values: Peace. Love, Truth, righteousness and nonviolence. I was, without a doubt, devoted to trying to put into practice all that I had learned. After twenty years of working eighteen hours a day from the age of 22, three Public Offerings and seeing move dawns than I have had hot dinners, my penance was completed through the world famous Hard Rock Cafe, and it was sold. Those winnings (by his Grace) were how the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital was built, or as I like to proudly say, on beers, burgers and broken glass. Swami once told me, “It makes no difference what you do. You can be a butcher or a hangman, as long as you rule your life on the five Vedic Human Values.”

Giving The cheque

I was in my room in the ashram when trying to see Baba. I wanted to give him my cheque but something seemed to stop me. I walked over there to the mandir but then started to sweat. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what was going on with me. It was as if I was being physically manipulated. I walked back to my room and I thought. Why Why? What’s wrong? What am I doing wrong? In giving the cheque for the hospital, is it giving me some sort of an ego trip? Is this like, “I” am doing a good thing? A generous guy? Then if finally dawned on me,  “Don’t do this for you. There is no you. Only us.” And I realized what I wanted to say, believe, and how and why, I had to offer this gift of money as service.

As soon as I got the message straight in my head. Sai Baba let me walk right into that interview room and I said, “Swami, this is a gift for you to do whatever you wish with. And it is from all of us. It is especially from all the ones who would like to give it, but don’t have it to give, they just have their love. We love you. We adore you. We want to help you. This is from all of us.” – He took the cheque. (The cheque I have been told was for many million of dollars.)

I said Swami, “I want you to please, please, please, please, don’t let anyone know that I’ve done this. I want to do it anonymously.”

He looked at me, went out on to the verandah and said to everyone there, “Tigrett gave me this cash!” Tigrett gave me cash! Tigrett gave me cash!”

So we built the Hospital. It was an extraordinary experience. He told me, Tigrett, you are not just going to give the cash, you are going to be in charge of the building the hospital, getting all the medical panning done, doing the architectural. You are going to be in charge of the whole thing! You know, I had been given the tools; the tools meaning the Hard Rock Cafe, yes, that’s what it was for to teach me how to get things done, to get organized. That was a prerequisite to building the Hospital.

I said, “Swami, what about all these gentlemen that you have go around you? Sitting outside the door? (VIPS). All those chaps who are the heads of your Organization? They will do anything to get close to you. Anything!” He said.

“You run them over. You are my Tiger. You run them over.” I said, “Okay if you’ll protect me, I’ll run them over.” And I did.

Just a note:

Sorry to say that Isaac Tigrett has left his flat in the ashram to join with the Muddenahalli Group and  former student Madhusudan the new Swami. (Madhu Baba)   I cannot think why he would do that! It seems like a complete U turn on his part. However, his personal story is still of interest to people. I will leave it here. Perhaps one day Isaac Tigrett will return to Puttaparthi and to the significant Samadhi and vibes of our late guru Sathya Sai Baba, just like the prodigal son of old.


 

The key is in understanding that the physical body is only an instrument of the divine. It is not forever. What was it that Sathya Sai Baba said so well ? “You are not the body.” “Drop all attachments to the body and its desires.”  I feel that includes all physical attachment to Sai Baba’s form also. ~  More importantly He said and I quote:  “At first, name and form are essential, that is the reason why Avatars come, so that God can be loved, adored, worshiped, listened to and followed, and finally realized as nameless and formless.”  Sathya Sai Baba