A long-time-ago story about Sai Baba. I think the year was 1996. I arrived in Bangalore late one evening, and got a taxi to Whitefield. It had been a hell of a journey from London. The hot sun, after the cold and wet English weather, cheered me up but I was still not in a good mood. Actually, I wanted to go home! With some reluctance, I went to darshan the very next morning and found a row to sit in and reflect on why I was there. I sat there quietly pondering on why I would choose to put myself through endless lineups and cramped floor seats for endless weeks at a time. Was I stupid? What was making me torture myself like this? Sighed and sat with head down thinking: ‘this is not me, is it? It’s my heart. My heart wants to be here but my head is screaming ‘no, no, no!’ I dreaded more back row seats and those hot sweaty bodies and the sour bad breath that comes after long sits in the heat.
Then I spotted the seva dal with the bag full of seating numbers. I knew from countless visits before, this game of chance probably would not favour me! Too right! Our line was in the double digit category. I surrendered. When we eventually stood to be seated in the Sai Ramesh hall, I found a place as far away as possible from the central aisle. It was over by the chair ladies, in the last but one block. I could not be seen and I, myself, could not see anything but backs of heads !
Swami arrived that morning as usual. He did not enter the hall by the VIP entrance at the front but, unusually, by the second entrance in the middle of the ladies blocks. Instead of turning toward the VIPs and front as usual, he decided to go the other way, walking down the small narrow aisle, where sick and disabled ladies sat. He strolled all the way down to our block and stopped right in front of me !!!
I sat there with mouth open, in-deed shock! Of course, he never looked at me, but took letters from those nearby. He, later, strolled to the very back, walked along to the central aisle and up toward the front. “You can’t hide from Swami” – that’s the lesson here!
What happens, then, when the guru dies or goes away? How do disciples cope with the absence of the one whose living and loving presence has opened for them the door to their own heart, the one through whom all reality has been filtered, and their own self understood? The disciples of Jesus, Palestinian Jews living at the beginning of the Common Era, and the disciples of the Indian Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, both Indians and Americans in 1970’s India, were both forced to negotiate the absence of the guru. These two groups of devotees, separated by almost 2,000 years in time and more than 2,500 miles, in land mass, inhabited very different cultures. They told stories about their gurus that help us understand the evolving meaning of the body of the guru—both in its presence and its absence. It is an interesting tale of sameness.
In looking at what devotees have chosen to recall we come to see what the disciple community finds destabilizing in the guru’s physical absence as well as how that absence can be overcome; how the pain of loss of the “non-dual reciprocity” of guru and disciple is eventually transcended through a new understanding of the body of the guru. A process that many people face today while recovering from the loss of Sathya Sai Baba, who many worshipped and adored.
In the Absence of the Body: Discipleship When the Guru Has Gone
An ancient axiom holds that when the disciple is ready, the guru will appear. Much less is said about what happens when the guru disappears—and for this, disciples are rarely ready. It is often a more traumatic event than the death of a parent or spouse or child, because the relationship between disciple and guru is of a different nature than relationships with parents, lovers, friends, or one’s own children. While all these relationships can involve deep and selfless love, the love of the guru (in both the genitive and objective sense) becomes the lens through which the disciple understands the self, the other, and the world. And at least initially, the locus of this love is the bodily presence of the guru.
The guru not only shows the way, but is that very way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is how Jesus’ disciples remembered him.
Abhishiktānanda, a modern Roman Catholic monk initiated into Indian advaita by his guru, Gnānānanda, writes that “Guru and disciple form a dyad, a pair, whose two components call for each other and belong together. No more than the two poles (of a magnet) can they exist without being related to each other. On the way towards unity they are a dyad. In the ultimate realization they are a non-dual reciprocity.”
How and Why We Remember
Gospel scholars talk about the “messianic secret” that describes how Jesus in the Gospels tells his disciples not to talk about his deeds of power or identity as the Christ, but to keep these things silent. Scholars often interpret this “secret” as a literary device (especially in Mark) employed to explain why, if Jesus was working all the wonders reported in the narrative, all of Israel did not come to believe in him, or at least know of him in his lifetime.3
In collecting the early stories of Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass encountered a modern corollary of the messianic secret. He writes that it took a number of years for Neem Karoli Baba’s Indian disciples to openly share their stories of Maharajji (as Neem Karoli Baba was known) due to his own directive that he should not be spoken about to others. There are stories of Maharajji ordering the burning of a collection of stories about him and of his tearing up a manuscript of an article on him. Neem Karoli, much like Jesus, ordered those who witnessed miracles effected by or through him never to speak of them. In the case of Neem Karoli Baba, this reticence is certainly not a literary device. Can it be that for Jesus, too, the “messianic secret” was real—and not a device of the Gospel authors?
We have similar instances of both teachers rebuking those who would compliment or draw attention to them. When his contemporary, Deoria Baba, said that Neem Karoli was an incarnation of love, Maharaji responded, “Why, that wicked man! What does he know? Who does he think he is?” Jesus, when called “good teacher” by an inquiring outsider, answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Both of them were opposed having their deeds recorded, and yet their disciples felt the need to do so when they were gone.
Both maharaj and Jesus often complained that their disciples did not truly understand their message, or even who they were. Yet, in spite of the guru’s admonitions, the community of disciples feels responsible for interpreting him to one another after his disappearance, and for preserving/creating a body of material through which the guru will become known by others. The gathering together of such stories offers those who experienced them a way to process the events of the past and gives new generations the possibility of experiencing an awakening similar to that of those who lived in the presence of the guru. In theological language this is called anamnesis, a remembering that makes real in the present the being or event that is being recalled. Anamnesis is one attempt at making the disappeared body of the guru present again.
Now we have the same with Sathya Sai Baba, while alive he complained that his followers failed to understand him. He called himself an enigma, one who could not be known. His passing six years ago, came as a surprise to his community and left them in shock. How did they deal with his passing? On the surface, not very well. While some carried on just as before, holding on to their past habits and routines they had build up during their time with the guru, others floundered. Many left to find another guru or to find solace in a former student and imposter. Although, I feel that a certain Anamnesis has taken place and the steadfast following will overcome the humbug following, in making the guru’s Temple and Ashram, the guru himself.
Excerpted from Parabola: Where Spiritual Traditions Meet,Vol. 37, No. 3 (2012).
By James H. Reho
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.” And to end on a happy note, a beautiful video of darshan with Swami to the huanting music of Secret Garden.
Happy birthday Elvis Presley – your 82nd. You never stayed around to grow old but your light and your music has never faded. I remember you from my childhood, when my brother mimicked your moves to the music of “Blue Suede Shoes.” I used to giggle at his “wiggle” and often we’d both end up on the floor laughing. I loved your songs and I loved the way you moved and grooved to that old rock and roll music. I don’t have a favourite song from back then – all are magic. There’s no one like you. Keep on Dreaming Elvis, wherever you are tonight.
“Before Elvis there was nothing!” ~ John Lennon.
Then the famous singer began to speak, incorporating a favorite Roy Hamilton Rhythm and Blues tune, “Without a Song.”
“When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times. These gentlemen over there, these are the type who care, are dedicated. You realize if it’s not possible that they might be building the Kingdom, it’s not far-fetched from reality. I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend, without a song.’”
About The Video posted.
“Way Down” is a song recorded by Elvis Presley in October 1976, it was the last single released before his death on August 16, 1977. The song was written by Layng Martine, Jr. and was later covered by Status Quo and Cliffhanger. Released as a single (with “Pledging My Love” on the B-side) on June 6, 1977, it was his current single when he died. It was racing up the top 40 when news of his death broke. Shortly after his death, it became the 33rd Number 1 of his career. It reached #1 on both the American Country and British Pop charts just days after his death, and almost six years after his previous Number 1 single. It was re-issued in April 2005 and reached #2 on the UK singles chart.
Recent video of the Muddenahalli group enjoying holidays. Interesting footage.
Madhusudan taking letters from people gathered in Muddenahalli
exactly in the manner of the original Sai Baba
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive!”
A follow up on the Muddenahalli Team – two years on.
Curiouser and curiouser is the case study of Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the former student of SathyaSaiBaba and later colleague and friend to Mr. N. Murthy. Several years ago I wrote about the beginnings of the “Light-Body” phenomena, when it first became known to the public at large. I have never been able to quite understand how, at first, we were told stories that Mr. N. Murthy, through dreams, was able to communicate with SaiBaba and to carry on the mission of SathyaSai in a way most extraordinaire and beyond our ken! The whole idea that SaiBaba would be interested in carrying on a worldly sojourn from the astral planes just did not make sense to me. However, Mr. N. Murthy, decided he was the chosen one to take the SaiBaba mission forward and he explained why in detail, through a Souljourns video talk posted on line. He spoke at length to Ted Henry about his amazing mission – for those of you interested, I have reposted it here.
Later the former student, Madhusudan came on the scene and proclaimed he was actually the one and only person to hear and see the “Light-body.” (The astral SaiBaba) and proclaimed himself to be the medium or “instrument” for the deceased Avatar! This caused many devotees to gather round him and pay homage at his feet, or rather to the unseen SaiBaba who was readily available to Madhu – at least in his own mind! The chosen venue for the darshans being Muddenahalli, the fourth branch of the Sri Sathya Sai University way up in the Nandi Hills.I am not sure that Madhusudan can actually cope with so many former devotees of the living SaiBaba now gathering at his feet, or to grant copious blessings and give Godly advice together with the odd trinket or two that he can now manifest – just like magic!
After the group’s Kodaikanal visit during May 2014, the show and Madhu, the impish raconteur, was up and going and in full swing. The senior group with Madhu, were off on travels to far flung places, while picking up handsome donations from some of the richest followers of the original SaiBaba. I have to think how must life be for this youngish man upon whom, everything depends? He is responsible for a host of grief-stricken SaiBaba “hangers on” and is also responsible for the building/s of a new Sai Ashram in Muddenahalli as well as grandiose building projects for the future – among them, no less, a casino and a hospital in Miss. USA! Can he still be sane with so much depending on his dubious connection to the “unseen and unheard deceased SaiBaba?” Or has he, in his own mind, morphed into a self-styled God man while using the original SaiBaba name also mimicking his mannerisms? I cannot say. I only know that Madhu is carrying the world on his shoulders and I wonder if he can stay the course without some mishap or two.
Probably by now, he has convinced himself that he is indeed a very special personage, the chosen one to carry on SaiBaba’s mission here on earth. I am beginning to feel “sad” for Madhusudan, the “Sukshema Baba” who has so much depending on his continuing performances to convince people that he is indeed in deep communication with SaiBaba, who has afterall, now been gone five years. Notwithstanding that the Sai world at large is scrutinising his every move and just waiting to jump on his case, when the vibuthi runs low and the luck turns thin.
Just recently Madhu and his group visited Nigeria as guests of a wealthy follower of their cult. By all accounts posted on the internet, they were detained and questioned by the police about their activities and were then promptly deported. I am not sure they actually were deported, although that is the story one reads from the Sai Org. letter posted on line and the newspaper article that appeared shortly after. ( Both can be found on line.) I am not going into the full details of the offical letter or the constant flow of claims and counter-claims on both sides of the Sai movement, whether this is true or not. I would rather not be part of that. I actually don’t want to be part of anything or any movement other than be by myself nowadays. Still, I do have to wonder how long SaduMadhu will be able to stand the pressure of being a self-styled Godman – to be the provider of solace, substance and miraculous boons to all who need a surrogate guru for the now dead SathyaSaiBaba.
My original post from May 2014 – “Speaking of Sathya Sai Baba’s Light Body”
The Rudolf Steiner link I meant to provide is very hard to understand and long to read. I have instead, re-written the one paragraph that stands out.
The astral being or the soul of the deceased – on reaching the higher realms does not interfere or mingle with souls on Earth, unless in the case of possession or are earth bound. There are cases where a medium might contact a spirit, often one not on the highest levels, to give messages to their relations of survival of death. However, these links are not ever strong and can only be sustained for a very short time. The energy of the medium or instrument and that of the astral soul, would not vibrate for long on the same frequency. That is just not possible. There are laws that govern the universe and for those who are complicit to using them for occult reasons, they are unable to do so at will. The boundaries between the Earthly realm and other higher realms are overseen by the universal laws. (The angels of Light.) Thus, the many types of energies, (the earthly souls and the astral souls,) cannot co-exist for long, due to the energy and vibrations of those on the light realms being very different from ours on Earth. thank you.
“I call those ready to see me; of course, there are different levels of readiness!!” ~ Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi
Have you had moments when your past just floods over you and for a split second you are back there in another time? Time and space at such moments, I find disappear, as I actually relive my past. The other day I was listening to Peter, Paul and Mary and the song, “Early Morning Rain” played. I seemed to lose all consciousness of being in the “here and now”for suddenly, i was back at Dulles airport in Reston, Va, USA -waiting for the plane that would take my little baby daughter and me back to London.
It was a deadfully chaotic evening I remember. Leanne was quite upset and cying. The stormy weather, so bad, the plane had been held up somewhere due to a broken window pane. All the passengers looked tired and anxious. I remember nothing more of that night but that one scene. For some odd reason it is frozen in my memory. There would be many trips back to London in the coming eight years and most were pretty chaotic.
Reston, Va. (Virgina) was a fabulous place to live back then. It had a charm and even an innocence that I am sure has faded over the years. I remember my introduction to everything spiritual came from the hippy-type community who lived in around Reston in those days. I met so many now famous people (in the spiritual sense) in those years there and attended many insightful workshops and events, that were to carve out a spiritual “life” jouney, I could never have imagined at the time.
We often visited Georgetown’s Yes bookshop on a Sunday afternoon. It was an esoteric bookshop full of New Age teachings and others too from the East. My mind just boggled at the sight of those marvellous books, filled with mystery and adventure. My curiosity ran wild as I looked through books on Yoga, Philosophy, Astral Travel, Reincarnation and those books that promised to predict the future.
Not the original as we knew it
It was on one of our visits to the Yes bookshop that I was introduced to Sai Baba. Looking back at how that happened, now makes me smile and wonder just how much of a coincidence it was. I stood in one of the dark aisles looking through books written by Lobsang Rampa who happened to be very popular at the time, when a young man tapped me on the shoulder. I quickly turned around to look into the face of the most handsome man one could imagine meeting. My eyes popped. He smiled sweetly. Then, in an easy style, he said, “Oh I see you are reading rubbish!.” I was shocked by his assessment of my reading material and with a shy answer I said I did not think the books were rubbish. “Oh yes they are” came his reply. “Let me show you something better.” He smiled again and led me to another book-aisle. He paused for awhile in front of shelves of books on Indian Philosophy. Then, with another smile, he pulled out a small paperback book – looking all old and tatty. He handed it to me and said, “This is an excellent book.” The title of the book was Man of Miracles. The cover portrayed a little man in an orange dress with a very large afro hairdo. I wasn’t impressed. I tried putting it back on the shelf but the young man insisted I buy it. I told him no. I could not afford it. He then replied, “I will buy it for you.” I smiled at his insistence to buy the book for me. He told me briefly that this book would change my life and that would be a good thing. I surrendered to his wish and we both walked over to the counter, where he paid for the book and handed it to me. Before he left, he wrote in the back of the book, the name and address of a group of people who could tell me more about Sai Baba. The address was Bethesda Maryland. With that he left the bookshop so much to my dismay. To be honest I was more interested in him, than the book!
I took the book home and placed it in the bookcase but i never read it. It was not until years later, when we were in Australia, that a chance meeting with a lady from the Findhorn Society, that the name Sai Baba came up again. She’d just returned from a long visit to his ashram and had many experiences to share.
“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.” -Amy Bloom
Wolf Trap – the one we knew and loved was burned down in the early 1980s
To this day we use flowers to communicate feelings and messages. In reality, there are no rules to what flower represents a purpose for giving; it’s the sentiment and thought that represents each occasion. Sometimes a specific flower or color will trigger a memory, special event or personal meaning. Others love to send flowers specifically for their language or meaning. With Valentine’s day just around the corner, you might expect that red roses imply romance and love, pink roses as an expression of admiration, and yellow roses stand for friendship and devotion. But with the wide variety of flowers and colors available, different flowers represent different forms of affection and messages.
The following meanings from Blossom Town website:
Red Roses: A red rose is an unmistakable expression of love. Red roses convey deep emotions – be it love, longing or desire. Red Roses can also be used to convey respect, admiration or devotion. A deep red rose can be used to convey heartfelt regret and sorrow. The number of red roses has special romantic meanings associated with them. 12 red roses is the most popular of all which conveys “Be mine” and “I love you” White Roses: White is the color of purity, chastity and innocence. White flowers are generally associated with new beginnings and make an ideal accompaniment to a first-time bride walking down the aisle.
Yellow Roses: Yellow roses are an expression of exuberance. Yellow roses evoke sunny feelings of joy, warmth and welcome. They are symbols of friendship and caring. The yellow rose, like the other roses, does not carry an undertone of romance. It indicates purely platonic emotions.
Pink Roses: There are a lot of variations of the pink rose. Over all, pink roses are used to convey gentle emotions such as admiration, joy and gratitude. Light pink rose blooms are indicative of sweetness and innocence. Deep pink rose blooms convey deep gratitude and appreciation. Pink roses also connote elegance and grace.
A variety of meanings. Who knows!
“There are no coincidences in life. What person that wandered in and out of your life was there for some purpose, even if they caused you harm. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense the short periods of time we get with people, or the outcomes from their choices. However, if you turn it over to God he promises that you will see the big picture in the hereafter. Nothing is too small to be a mistake.” ― Shannon L. Alder
spend a few minutes being mesmerized by the Hummers
I just love Hummingbirds. Their dazzling wings and swift movements remind me of gloriously clad angels. And like angels they appeal to the spiritual side of my nature. I can’t cease to wonder at the beauty of nature and all it has to offer. Who can doubt there’s a divine plan for ourselves and all creatures, when watching a tiny humming bird. They are so tiny, so exquisite that we are simply mesmerized by them. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth’s creatures before we lose them forever. Yes, even the tiny hummingbirds we can lose if we destroy their habitat. We’ve been homo sapiens for a long time. Now it’s time to become homo conscious.
Our love and admiration for the Earth and her beauty has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination. We have all suffered, for too long, centuries of individualism and competition that have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation for other creatures and the Earth itself. We need to re-establish true communication–true communion–with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another as children of the same mother.
A magnificent you tube defining the Goddess, her strengths and her beauty. The photos are amazing, the music magical. 🙂
A little about two ancient Greek Goddesses – Demeter and Persephone and the rites of the divine bee. Here goes in a few words.
The fifth century BCE Greek historian Herodotus relates the importance of bees in ancient Greece, pointing out that the honey of neighboring countries was made using fruit, while the honey of the Greeks was produced by bees. The significance of this difference lies in that, to the Greeks of that time period, bees were considered to be divine insects, and were revered in their myths and rituals. Among the most celebrated of these myths was the story of the fertility goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. Demeter restores her gift of fruit and grain to the earth, but she also gives a greater gift to humans—the Mysteries.
The Eleusinian Mysteries were an initiatory tradition that played an important role in the lives of those who experienced it. In these rites, the initiates, known as mystai, were led on a procession toward Eleusis by the priests and priestesses of Demeter. This was a symbolic initiatic journey in which they purified themselves in preparation to ceremonially return Persephone from the underworld and take part in other sacred acts. As in the wider Greek culture, the bee symbolized divine concepts of life and death, so in the Mysteries and other traditions it took on the connotation of initiatic death and rebirth: that is, of personal regeneration and transformation.