John S Hislop was one of those fine instruments used by Bhagavan
Baba to spread His Message across the continents. Most of
you might have read his wonderful books like 'My Baba and
I' and 'Conversations with Sai.' Swami gave Hislop innumerable
experiences so that the latter could get a feel for all aspects
of Baba's Divinity. Baba also granted Hislop any number of
Interviews, answered his questions in detail, came to his
rescue during illness, saved him from disaster, created unusual
objects for him and once even blessed him with a vision of
Krishna. But relevant to this Christmas issue of Heart to
Heart is the famous episode dealing with the creation by Baba
of a crucifix for Hislop. Interestingly, the crucifix was
created on Mahasivarathri Day in the year 1973, deep in the
forest! This holy festival was celebrated by Baba in the company
of a small group almost in privacy, and not before massive
crowds as normally happens. Let us hear Hislop recall the
The crucifix was created
by Baba on a most auspicious day, Mahasivarathri.
evening before, we were told to be ready in the early morning
for a trip; and that when the cars were loaded and ready we
would know the destination. Swami had decided that only a
handful of people would be with Him
Our destination was
the Bandipur Game Sanctuary in Bandipur Forest, several hours
away from the city of Mysore. We arrived at the Forest rest
house in the early afternoon. Later we took various winding
roads hoping to come upon one of the Forest's wild elephant
.. the elephants remained in their secret places
and not even one was seen. But the drive through the hills
had another and more important objective
As we crossed a bridge
above a sandy, dry riverbed, Baba indicated that this would
be the place.
The cars halted at the side of the road,
and we started to climb down the bank to the sandy river bottom.
I was beside Baba. As we passed a bush, Swami broke off two
twigs, placed them together and asked me, "What is this,
"Well Swami, it is a cross," I answered. Baba then
closed His fingers over the twigs and directed three somewhat
slow breaths into His fist, between thumb and forefinger.
Then He opened His hand to reveal a Christ figure on a Cross,
and He gave it to me.
He said, "This shows Christ as he really was at the time
he left his body, not as artists have imagined him. His stomach
is pulled in and his ribs are all showing. He had no food
for eight days."
I looked at the crucifix but found no words. Baba then continued:
"The wood in the cross is the same as the wood of the
actual cross on which Christ was crucified. To find some of
that wood after 2000 years took a little time! The image is
of Christ after he died. It is a dead face."
I noticed something odd and asked, "Swami, what is that
hole at the top of the cross?" Baba replied that the
cross had been originally hung from a standard.
short while after the materialisation of the cross, Sivarathri
was celebrated on the sandy river bed with devotees singing
Bhajans and Baba bringing out a Lingam to mark the holy day
and the significance of Creation - quite a change from the
normal circumstances under which Sivarathri is celebrated.
A couple of years later, some American devotees
asked Swami about the cross materialised for Hislop. Baba
Yes, I made it for
him. When I went to look for the wood, every particle of the
cross had disintegrated and returned to the elements. I reached
out to the elements and reconstituted sufficient material
for a small cross. Very seldom does Swami interfere with Nature,
but occasionally, for a devotee, it will be done."
The story of the cross does not quite end
with its physical materialisation. Hislop had a strange experience
a few months later, when the cross was being shown to a few
friends. This is what he says:
Within a few weeks
we were back in our home in Mexico and were soon to witness
an amazing series of events in relation to the crucifix.
[One day] the time was about 5 P.M. On this afternoon, the
sky along the Mexican coast was clear and peaceful. But suddenly
without warning, there was a loud crash of thunder and as
our eyes turned towards the windows, lightning flashed from
a dark cloud where a moment before there had been only clear
sky. A violent wind rushed through the house, causing windows
and doors to open and shut with such force that the glass
was in danger of shattering. The curtains were flying in all
directions. We were much startled by this turn of events,
but my wife at once said, "It is 5 P.M., the time Christ
died on the cross, and what is now happening is described
in the Bible." She later brought a Bible and we looked
though until we found the pertinent paragraph, which said
that at the moment Christ gave up His life, a violent storm
arose with lightning and thunder, and winds rent the curtains
of the temple. We concluded that we had witnessed a wonder
totally beyond our power of imagination. Before our eyes had
occurred nothing less than a recapitulation of events related
to crucifixion. The following day, newspapers in San Diego
carried a brief story commenting on the sudden and mysterious
storm that had arisen without warning on the Mexican coast,
.A year or so later, I sent a description
of the event to Dr. Eruch B. Fanibanda for his book, Vision
of the Divine. He showed the memo to Baba. After reading
the memo, Baba said that the event had occurred as described
and that the significance attributed to it was correct.
Blessed was Hislop to have had this wonderful experience and
blessed is everyone of us to have heard about it.
Hislop constantly chanted Baba's Name, right
till the very end. As he gave up the mortal coil, friends
at his bedside kept chanting the sacred OM, even as the soul
journeyed to its eternal resting-place, the Divine Lotus Feet.
Some time later, Swami asked an American devotee on the veranda,
"Where is Hislop?" The devotee looked up, as if
to signify that Hislop was in heaven. Baba then said, "He
has come to Me. Good man; always thinking of and working for
Swami." There cannot be a better eulogy.