It was one evening, centuries ago, when Jesus along with his disciples, entered a boat and said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” And as they sailed, He fell asleep. A furious storm came down the waters and the craft was nearly swamped. The disciples, distressed and clueless, woke up the Master and pleaded for their lives. Jesus, then arose, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" The next moment, the wind had lost its speed and the water was completely calm. [Mark 4:35 ]
Another day, when a huge crowd followed Jesus and His disciples to an isolated town called Bethsaida, and Jesus did not want to send the masses away hungry, the perturbed disciples said, “Master, how can we get so many loaves in a deserted place as to satisfy so great a multitude?” Jesus then enquired, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven, and a few small fish,” came the reply. He then commanded the crowd to sit down, took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked the heavens, broke the bread and gave it to the disciples to serve everyone gathered there. An unbelievable four thousand men, women and children ate to their fill, and at the end there were still seven baskets of broken pieces left over! [Mathew 15:32] And what to talk of the incredible instance when He went into the house of Jairus, the ruler of a synagogue, hearing that his twelve year old daughter was dead, and taking the hand of the dead body said, “Child, arise!” And the next minute, with shock and disbelief the parents watched their little girl sit up! [Mark 5:22]
Now, fast forward two thousand years and what do we see? In July 1967, a huge concourse had gathered to listen to Baba’s discourse in Dharmakshetra, Mumbai. The scheduled time for the meeting was 6pm, but at 5:15, the sky was overcast. It was the monsoon month and rains could lash anytime. The organizers requested Baba to put forward the meeting by half an hour, but all Bhagavan said was, “Why?” And then took Sri Indulal Shah by His hand to the window of the lotus-shaped Mandir, and as they watched people below opening their umbrellas and covering their heads to save themselves from the drizzle, Swami gently raised His hand through the glass, and the next moment Sri Indulal was stunned to see the downpour cease instantaneously! The clouds dispersed as if in a hurry. The storm had become still.
Nearly a decade and a half earlier to this, after the inauguration of the Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir in 1950, one night Swami said to the small group of devotees present, “Do not cook anything today. We will cook on the banks of River Chitravathi and eat.” The ecstatic troupe loaded all the provisions, vessels, etc. onto a cart and in glee followed Sai. But on reaching there, they wondered how is their Hero going to cook? There was no firewood or stove. But what Swami did that night was completely out of a fairy tale. He just took a piece of wood in His Hand and gently tapped the lids of the vessels mumbling the dish names, “Rice”, “Sambhar”, “Payasam,” and so on. And lo! Immediately were heard spluttering sounds of food being cooked inside! The supremely delicious feast the privileged few had that day, served personally by Bhagavan, was not of this world. The Master had fed His chosen ones to the full. And we all know how more than half a century ago, when Swami softly called out “Subbamma”, “Subbamma”, the pious lady, who had been declared dead for three days, opened her eyes, grasped His palm, and breathed her last as the holy waters of the Ganga flowed into her mouth from the Divine Fingers, and slaked the thirst of her soul. If it was a Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter then, there are hundreds of Subbammas and Walter Cowans now, about many of whom we have no clue.
How fascinatingly identical are the Manifestations, Life and Messages of The Divine! If Jesus’ birth was due to Immaculate Conception, Swami too was born when a blue ball of light entered the womb of Mother Eswaramma. If Christ was persecuted and tortured for declaring the Truth, Baba too was served poison; His eyes stuffed with acid, scalp shaved, cut and badly bruised at the hands of a black magician, till His body shook in pain and His family could no longer bear the sight of the ‘treatment’ to get rid of the ‘spirit’ lurking in Him. [And even to this day, there are elements which are out to vilify Him].
And look at their Message: If Jesus said, “Love thy enemies, do good unto those who hate thee, bless those who curse thee and pray for those who ill-treat thee.” [Luke 6:27] Baba says, “There is no greatness in doing good to those who do you good. The superior being is one who returns good for evil…the weapon of love alone can disarm every opponent.” And just like Jesus who said, "Do not ye think, that I came to undo the law of Moses, or the teachings of the prophets; I came not to undo the law, but to fulfill them" [Mathew 5:17]; Swami says, “I have not come to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith. So that the Christian becomes a better Christian, a Muslim a better Muslim…”
When the Reality is so obvious, why is that thousands are still so impervious to it? When the Message delivered two thousand years ago was so simple and direct, why is it that today we have Christian divisions of all hues and affiliations from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestants to Anglicans, Eastern Churches, Western Churches and so on. Why is it that in spite of nearly one out of every three people in this world today professing allegiance to this “Prince of Love”, what we see today is only "Poverty of Love" and appalling intolerance? Have we understood who Jesus really is? Do we know what He means when He says, “I am the way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” [John 14: 6] If Jesus was God, the All Powerful, then why did He suffer so much? And what is the concrete connection between Jesus and Sai? It is to put all these issues in the proper perspective that we have “The Divine Reality Revealed…” as our cover story this month. When you read this enlightening conversation with Father Charles Ogada, you will know how, for centuries, the powers that be, have convoluted the word of Christ to fit into their constricted perceptions, and in the process converted what was free Gold into a cheap alloy to be marketed for their mean ends. The true message of the Messenger of God has been lost to the masses for hundreds of years.
Christmas, majority thinks, is a festival for Christians as they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But is this really true? Very few know that December 25 was not the accepted date for Christmas until nearly the middle of the fourth century A.D. In fact, finding it impossible to determine the date of the birth of Jesus, the Christian Church, in A.D. 337 chose this date, as it was on this day that the Sun God reincarnated every year, which was, of course, related to the rebirth of the Sun in the northern hemisphere. It was only appropriate to celebrate the birth of the Son of God on the day when the physical sun was new-born, so to say. Moreover it was also the day, since past ages, when the Celtic people as well as the Romans rejoiced feasting and lighting bonfires in thanksgiving to Bael and Bacchu, their respective ancient light-bringers. Therefore, the significance of December 25 goes back to the dawn of time. It is the day which embraces the birth of the Spiritual Light and this could include all the incarnations of God we know of and many we are not even aware.
Christmas is a day of experiencing Divinity, through Unity and Purity. And that is why every year you find people of all races, religions, colours and creeds celebrate this day with enthusiasm and ecstasy in the Divine Presence of Baba in Prasanthi Nilayam. In His Christmas Discourse in 1984, Swami said, "As messengers of God, you have to demonstrate to the world the Purity, the Truth and the Love that the Divine symbolizes.”
And how are we to do that? Only when we live up to His dictum: “Love thy neighbour as ye love thyself.” [Mathew 22:39] When you read the story of how the Sai Youth of Andhra reached out, rescued and rehabilitated a tribe which was lost for centuries in dense and dangerous jungles, you will know how this divine command has been put into practice and what true service is all about.
Swami very often says, “Always live in JOY – that is, first Love Jesus (God), then Others and finally Yourself.” The Kingdom of God that is within us will glow splendorously the day we install Him there, love Him passionately and forget ourselves completely in His service. Let us live in this Joy, for Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus.
Wishing you a Happy, Holy and Merry Christmas!