I have been to India many times since 1977, and invariably, people ask, "How was the Taj Mahal?" My answer is always the same, "I have never been there." "So, where have you been?" they ask. "To see Sathya Sai Baba." The question is always, "And who is He?"
I have experienced many aspects of Baba. I've seen Him heal people, watched Him smile and talk to many while seeming to ignore others. I've looked on as He walked among the multitude; He is there, but you know not really there; yet, He is everywhere. Yes, I have been blessed with personal interviews, as well as personal miracles, both at Prasanthi Nilayam and in New York. Throughout the years I have come to see Baba as mother, father, friend, and holy man.
In the many books I've read, He has been represented as the image of God, something I've never truly understood. Consequently, there had been a kind of separation between us. It wasn't until this past November that I got a glimpse of who He really is. I began to truly understand His message, not just intellectually, but from a new space that He opened up. All through the fall of '92, I had been trying to visit Baba. I wanted to go when the ashram was less crowded, for now that I had retired, I did not have to wait for a school break or for summer vacation. I thought I was free to go anytime.
Yet, each way I turned, the path was blocked. I made plans, but they kept falling apart. To my surprise, I was pushed to go in November, at birthday and conference time. My intellect said this was not the right time, it would be far too crowded. But my heart knew it was destiny, and I had little choice. Baba was indeed leading the way, and it was interesting that, at that time, all plans fell into place. There was no longer any trouble getting on with the trip. What ensued was the greatest miracle, the real transformation!
The Game of Life
I arrived in India, alone for the first time, tired, worried. However, the minute I stepped into the Ashram, all I could hear was, "Life's a game, play it!" This remained the theme of my visit.
This served me in good stead when I was told, "There is no room at the inn," despite the letters of recommendation I had brought. The theme, "Life's a game, play it!" also echoed as I was repeatedly seated far back during darshan, and, yet, I kept my cool. For the first time, I was not preoccupied with thoughts of myself. I did not ask Him for anything. I sat and observed; my eyes were only on Him. This was a far cry from the many times my mind churned with, "Baba, I'm here, look at me, help me." Instead, I was thankful to be there, to breathe in His glory and blessings, and to ask for nothing.
And so, I received! No matter where I was placed, there was Swami, as visible as could be. When the temple compound was so very crowded, and I was placed last, all of a sudden a new row would form, and I was there with Baba in full view.
Not only did I wind up with a room, but in the midst of hundreds of thousands, I had a dream fulfilled; I was in a room by myself able to meditate in silence, to eat and sleep when needed, not to talk, to be alone with my own thoughts. I had never been privy to these luxuries before.
So, what was happening? Baba was showing me how to play life's game. In a real sense, I was finally giving of myself. There, in the midst of throngs attending the birthday, convocation, and conference activities, I was given the opportunity to recognise Baba in His true form—more than mother, father and friend. I comprehended the meaning of omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient.
The rest of my visit was supercharged, constantly reinforcing who He really is. Here it is, months later, and I'm still filled with gratitude. The miracle of who Swami is, still remains. It is He who has enabled me to face my trials and tribulations—to hear of my grandson's problems, to go through my husband's major surgery, to better understand that I must see no evil and see only good. I remember His words, "It is like baking a cake. I stir, I knead, I pound, I twist, I bake you. I drown you in tears. I scorch you in sobs. I make you sweet and crisp, an offering worthy of God." And His statement to my husband and myself, "This Avatar has come to console, correct, guide, and love you. There is nothing to fear."
And so, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has created a new being, not only freed in mind and emotions but changed on a physical plane. He has erased many of my face wrinkles and turned my lips upward, allowing sadness to give way to a smile, showing me that Love conquers all. Yes, the Lord is truly here!
(From the october 1993 issue of Santhana Sarathi)