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  Volume 4 - Issue 06 JUNE 2006
 
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SAI MOVEMENT IN GUATEMALA

By John Behner

Previous Articles In This Series
 

The Republic Of Guatemala

Guatemala has a rich history and culture related to the Mayan Indians who have maintained their autonomous communities and have not intermarried with Spanish settlers.

There are over 4 million Mayan descendants using traditional methods of cultivation and managing their own legal system who live in this small Central American country located in the south of the continent of North America and flanked by the Pacific Ocean to it west and the Caribbean sea to it east.

The agricultural products of the Mayans are sold in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and southern Mexico, and are mostly vegetables. There are many rivers and lakes which the Mayans used to transport their produce to other villages.

 

The Mayans built large cities with pyramids up until about 600 AD when their culture was decimated due to infertility. The most famous Mayan centre is Tical where there are several impressive pyramids. Now Guatemala has a population of 12.7 million with 3 million in Guatemala City. Of this population, one-third are descendents of the Mayan Indians, living in rural communities.

 
Rio Dulce - where the Mayan Indians used to transport
their produce by boat to other villages.
A Mayan pyramid close to the Mexican border

Modern day Guatemala enjoys an economy which is mostly agricultural, with sugar cane, coffee, and meat products making up the major part of exports. There are several tourist attractions such as Antiguo, where there were over 30 churches and convents when the colonial capital was located there in the early 1700s. Chichicastanango, a Mayan town is also on every tourists’ list of places to see.

The Sai Movement In Guatemala

When did Swami arrive? Well He was always there, but people started to discover Him about 1975.

 

Nassin Michaan, a business man, traveled to India in the year 1974, and saw Sai Baba for the first time. He became a frequent visitor, quite possibly the most frequent visitor from the west. His friend, Augusto Ansueto, and his wife Balbina opened the first Sai Center in their home in 1979.

Augusto had a business of making rubber stamps, and he also gave his customers free handouts and told many of them about Sai Baba. His store was like a public relations point for people interested in knowing more about Sai.

After a visit by Indra Devi, the famous yoga teacher, to Guatemala, many other centers were opened in four zones of the city.

Amazing Transformation Of A Drunk

About this time a very strange incident occurred. There was a very dignified university professor who later became the rector of the national university who would take a stroll everyday, and during his walk, he would come across a drunk who was lying by the sidewalk. He would carefully detour this drunken fellow so as not to have any unpleasant encounter. This went on for a few years until one day he found to his surprise that the drunken fellow, was standing up, dressed and shaved, wearing white clothes. He couldn’t believe his eyes! So he asked the fellow what had happened. He was told that God was alive on earth in the form of Sathya Sai Baba, and that his life had been transformed into the life of this now aspiring devotee. The professor, now had his curiosity pricked, and decided to find out more about Sai Baba. He too became a devotee, as well as all of his family, and one granddaughter has started a Sai School as we will read about as we go on.

Returning to the visit of Indra Devi, the devotees had rented a diplomatic residence for her visit and talks. Devotees were singing bhajans and the room was packed. A fellow from Nicaragua was walking by on the street and heard the bhajans and stuck his head in the door. Sai Baba stepped out of His photograph in the front of the room and motioned to the man, called Norman Cuadra, to enter and come to Him. Norman walked up the path in the centre of the room which was the only space open, and then Sai Baba moved His hand and made vibuthi for Norman.

Norman did not have anything to put the vibuthi in except the celofane wrapper from his cigarette package. So he put the vibuthi there, although he did not know what it was, and retired from the gathering. No one saw this except Norman.

However, Norman was very much overcome by the experience, and the next day he found a book, The Man of Miracles, in a book shop and bought it. He spent the next 5 hours in a park reading the book.

He was sitting in the sun, and someone came up to him and asked why he was sitting in the sun when there were plenty of shady trees nearby. At this he was stirred from his reading and decided to return to the house where he had seen Sai Baba the day before.

When he got there and asked for Sai Baba, he was told that this was a diplomatic residence which the Sai Baba Organization had rented for the day, but they had no more information. Norman returned to Nicaragua without finding anyone else who knew about Sai Baba.

 

Returning to the reformed alcoholic, he decided to put a Sai Centre in his house although there was not much space. However, over the years, he has been able to build a beautiful centre on a second floor over his home. All of his family have become Sai devotees, and all of his children were in Bal Vikas at one time. Many are now grown and hold leadership positions in the Sai Organization.

 

In a village in the north of Guatemala, a Sai School was started by the Calderon family in Huehuetanango. The school had six grades and was free for the students, many were children of Indians and farmers from the area.

Other schools in the town asked Maria Calderon, the director, to train their teachers, as the students at the Sai School were so much better disciplined and more polite than other students. The school has the colours of Prashanti Nilayam.

Maria Calderon with some of her students in Huehuetanango
   

Champaign Reflection

General Carlos Arana Osorio was the president of Guatemala from 1972 to 1978, and in 1990, he became the president of the coordinating committee of the Sai Organization of Guatemala. On a visit to Prashanti, just prior to celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary, Swami called Carlos and his wife for an interview.

During the interview, Carlos invited Swami to attend his wedding anniversary in Guatemala. Swami said, oh yes, He would be there. They waited expectantly during the anniversary celebration, but were disappointed when Swami did not turn up.

But then when the photos of the anniversary were developed, to their surprise and joy, Swami’s image appeared lying down inside a Champaign glass in Carlos’ hand. This photo was later exhibited in the old EHV building where Radio Sai Global Harmony is now located. Swami came to see the exhibit and pointed out His image in the glass, and told the story to those who were with Him at that moment including Sri Indulah Shah and the author.

 
   
General Carlos Arana Osorio and His wife during their 50th wedding anniversary

Swami Guides The Sai School

In 1998, the parents of Lucilla Rodriguez, granddaughter of the professor spoken of earlier, gave her the money for a trip to India. Instead of spending the money for a trip to India, she spent the money to furnish a small school, which was to become the School of Sathya Sai Human Values of Guatemala. She has been adding a grade every year and now has 110 students including 7th graders. But one problem exists. The house where the school started is now too small. The playground is on the roof. Before starting 7th grade she wanted word from Swami if she should continue adding grades. In a dream, Swami told her to continue adding grades, so now she has 7th grade too. But where will Swami put all these children? That is the question which is waiting for an answer. The parents are very much interested that their children should continue, not only because it is a free school, but because the children have changed so much for the better.

School of Sathya Sai Human Values, Guatemala
 
Scenes from Sai School in Guatamala City
 

Inauguration of Sathya Sai Baba School in Zone 9 of Guatemala in October 2004
 
Sai Children enacting the play Noah's Ark
 
The dedicated teachers at the school...
The children sing together...

On the 28th of October, 2004 the Institute of Sathya Sai Education was set up in Guatemala to carry the Sai Education Mission to the next higher level. On the same day, a Sathya Sai Baba centre also was inaugurated in Zone 9 of Guatemala City.

 
The Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Guatemala
On the Inauguration Day of Sathya Sai Baba Centre in Zone 9
     
     

There are 6 centers and groups in Guatemala City with service activities almost every day of the week. There are 4 Sai medical clinics with medicine and the consultation free of charge.

Sai Medical Clinics in Guatemala City
 
 

There have been several public meetings, one was attended by over 800 people. As many as 40% of the population have heard about Sai Baba.

Many have the mistaken belief that only the wealthy people from overseas are able to visit Sai Baba in India because the airfare is so expensive. However, this is not true. One devotee of very nominal income, has won in the national lottery, not once, but twice, and this has permited him to visit Swami on both occasions.

Wake Up!

Another person, who is a male army nurse, from a rural town, who did not even have a bank account, was assigned to look after General Carlos Arana, after he had suffered a broken hip. His first day of duty at the General's home, was not difficult, but that night when he went to bed, he was awakened by Swami personally. Jose, the nurse, was afraid, and pulled the covers over his head, but Swami pulled them off again, and just stood looking at him, then disappeared.

In the morning, Jose did not say anything to Carlos, but he was not very happy at his new post. The next night the same thing happened. Swami pulled off his cover in the middle of the night. Rather frightened, Jose again tried to pull the cover over his head only to have it pulled off again. In the morning Jose told Carlos that he was leaving. He said that the person in the pictures all over the house was bothering him in the night and would not let him sleep. Carlos asked what had happened, and then told Jose that there were millions of people around the world who would love to have such an experience.

 
 
Mr. Leonardo Gutter speaking at
a public meeting..

 

He convinced Jose to stay and to read a book about Sai Baba. Then after a couple of months, Carlos asked Jose to accompany him to India to help with the wheelchair. Jose was able to get all the visas, and traveled with Carlos and his son to India. One day Swami called Carlos for an interview. Jose pushed his wheelchair up to Swami's door, and was going to leave when Swami invited him inside.

Jose had a private interview with Swami in which Swami spoke only Spanish, and the next day they had another interview, and again Jose had another private interview with Swami and all in Spanish. He received a medal from Swami.

Now Jose says he wants to be a devotee, but he is not sure if he is worthy of being called one. So no matter what a person's economic status or position in the soceity is, nobody knows when the divine wire-puller will pull the strings and string you to Him for ever.

The Sai Movement in Guatemala is interesting and inspiring. Sai works in mysterious ways and thanks to His grace and love, there is lot of Sai inspired work being done in this Central American country. Though small in size, the inspiration this country gives to others is huge.


H2H is grateful to Gene Massey who has been painstakingly taking pictures of the Sai Mission in different countries and selflessly sharing them with us.

Dear Reader, this is our third article in the series of articles on Sai Movement in Latin America. Did this article help you in anyway? Would you like stories of Sai Movement from other countries as well? Please tell us know at [email protected] Please mention your name and country when you write to us. Thank you for your time.

Heart2Heart Team

 

 


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Vol 4 Issue 06 - JUNE 2006
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