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Bhagavan sri satHya sai baba:
Pure Love Unparalleled, Part 1


Unprecedented is the word. Everything about Him is something that the world has never seen before. The Organisation bearing His name is the largest completely voluntary service organisation with at least a million members spread in almost every nation on the face of this earth. The mammoth institutions established by Him in the most needed areas of education, health and rural upliftment offer service of the highest grade at absolutely no cost to the beneficiaries, and that too in an ambience that is holier and holistic than humanity’s revered places of worship. Men and women, young and old, children and adults, Christians and Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, Jews and Pharisees, Chinese and Russians, Americans and Africans, Aborigines and Europeans – literally everyone in whichever corner of the globe they may be, can feel His Presence; He guides, protects, counsels, comforts, cares, cures, and then elevates.

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How did the born-in-a-poor-family 7th grade educated, Sathya Narayana Raju become the Universally Revered Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba? How did Puttaparthi, the remote village of under-developed India, transform into the Spiritual Lighthouse of the world, where one can find Presidents and Prime Ministers of nations to peasants and daily-wage workers? The only answer to this in Baba’s own words is “My top-to-toe selfless Love.” And about the relationship with His followers, Baba says, it is “Heart to Heart, Love to Love”. In real life, how do people feel His love? What attracts them? This is the focus of the first part of our cover story. And then, once they experience Him, what does it do to them? And ultimately, how does it help the world at large? The second part of this story will offer you insights into these latter questions. Read on and you will like it because quintessentially it is all about Pure Love, nothing else. Happy reading!

It was the worst nightmare anyone midair could ever go through. With the most menacing looking hijackers staring down at them, the horrified and helpless hostages watched the macabre dance of their imminent end being played out right before their very eyes. Armed to the teeth, the hijackers had strewn broken liquor and perfume bottles along the aisles to ensure that when they did light the fire, the plane would burn brilliantly. Meanwhile, they were running out of fuel and had been denied landing at any of the European cities the flight was hovering over.

The hijackers had originally hoped to land in Athens, Greece. They were seeking the release of two of their compatriots imprisoned there for a former similar misadventure. Their ultimatum to the passengers hardly required any translation from Arabic to English. Their intent was clear enough. With their original plan thwarted, they planned to blow up the planeload of passengers over the North Sea.

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Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, one of the hostages
of the 1975 hijacking
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The year was 1974 and caught in the thick of this horrifying episode were the American couple, Mr. Sidney Krystal, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, and his wife, Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, a psychotherapist. The Krystals were returning home from India, after a visit to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Reliving that dreadful moment, Mrs. Phyllis Krystal, now 95, recalls, “One of the hijackers was smoking a cigarette which was hanging out of his mouth. Sydney, being a lawyer, said, ‘We know he is going to blow up the plane here if that cigarette drops on any of this ammunition…. Now, you know, we have had a very good and a long life together…. You are going to have to understand that you will not survive, and you will not see your daughters again.’ And then out of my mouth came the most astonishing sentence. I said, ‘Don’t be so foolish! We are going to survive.’ And I don’t know where that came from.

Wielding the Ultimate Weapon of Conquest: Love

“I then remembered Baba’s room when we were at Dharmakshetra, [Baba’s residence in Mumbai] So, instantly I visualized it again, and really concentrated on that room and started to say in my very excited English accent, ‘Baba! Baba! Baba! Please help!’

“And the next moment the most astonishing thing came into my mind. It was as if His voice was clearly heard. He said, ‘Send love to them.

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“And I remember saying, ‘Are You crazy? Have you looked at their faces? Have you seen that they want to kill us and you expect me to send love to them?’ And the next thing that came to my mind, which was again very clear, was that I should be able to send His Love because only Sai Baba could see the God even in the hijackers.

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'Send love to the hijackers' - Baba
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“And I remember saying, ‘Are You crazy? Have you looked at their faces? Have you seen that they want to kill us and you expect me to send love to them?’ And the next thing that came to my mind, which was again very clear, was that I should be able to send His Love because only Sai Baba could see the God even in the hijackers.

“I started to visualize Baba in His room in Dharmakshetra. I was breathing in His Love so consciously as I had never done before, and then I just directed it to the hijackers. As I did it, they got more, and more, and more nervous. They were trembling, they dropped the ammunition. One man dropped the cigarette and immediately put it out.”

Through the force of this invisible energy that Phyllis Krystal was transmitting to the hijackers, the situation on the troubled flight began to change dramatically. The evil doers appeared visibly weakened in their resolve. Confessing her own shock at the effectiveness of the simple guidance she had received, she said, “I was so astonished! I was doing what I was told to do, but I suppose I didn’t realize that it would really work! And so, I was really quite surprised. But it was immediate! The one that was smoking started to tremble.

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Phyllis

 
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Mrs. Krystal recalls details of the nightmare
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“Oh, and I forgot to tell you! He cut his wrist on one of the bottles! And then took a handkerchief and wound it around. And they really began to get extremely jittery and they were looking around wondering whatever was making them nervous and where it was coming from… the entire atmosphere was changing rapidly. Thank God, they didn’t suspect me!”

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'Yes, I heard you' - Baba
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After hours of undergoing the horrific ordeal, the plane was allowed to land at Amsterdam and all the passengers had to slide down the emergency chute for their dear lives, leaving behind all their belongings, including passports, shoes and jackets. Within minutes, the hijackers set the plane ablaze. They were arrested shortly thereafter.

Later the same year, when Phyllis and Sidney Krystal were back in India to see Bhagavan Baba, He confirmed His direct intervention in the situation. Phyllis explained, “As soon as we got there, Swami came to us and I started to thank Him. And He interrupted me saying, ‘Yes, I heard you.’

"And He mimicked my voice in a very English accent which, as my children always tell me, comes out very strongly when I was angry or excited or frightened. It was hysterical and we laughed so much because Baba mimicking an English accent was really very sweet! He invited us for lunch and then gave us a very quick interview.

"And when we were with him, He explained what had happened: From what I understood, the most important thing He said was that the entire plane loaded with people was saved because the plane was filled with His Love.

Love that Disarms

A love energy so powerful that it could disable the fierce hatred of the hijackers and disarm them enough to spare hundreds of lives at their mercy, had its source in the petite but potent presence that has graced the planet now for 83 years; an ocean of love that millions revere as the ultimate personification of the highest emotion ever known to any living being.

The phenomenon representing this Supreme and Sacred Love was born on November 23, 1926 to blessed parents Pedda Venkama Raju and Eshwaramma, and named Sathya Narayan Raju. Today, millions of people from every known culture, religion, profession and race in every single country and continent that lie between the North Pole and the South Pole are celebrating the 83 rd year of His advent as Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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'There is no one in the world whom I do not love' - Baba
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'I love even those who hate me. My love is supreme, pure' - Baba
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Rejoicing in their good fortune to be living in the awareness of His holy presence as their contemporary, they draw inspiration from His personal example of infinite compassion, organic and indescribable love and unhindered acceptance of all. Those who have studied His life, see it as an endless saga of giving and sacrificing, rescuing and guiding. Since His childhood, the simplicity of His gospel continues to transform millions of hearts. As His devotees vouch, His only weapon of choice for individual transformation and mass reformation of the world remains pure, unadulterated and absolutely inexhaustible love for all living beings on earth, and beyond.

During a discourse as recently as October 9, 2008, Bhagavan Baba reiterated His lifelong commitment to love when He declared:

“My love is supreme and pure. I love those who love Me. I love even those who develop hatred towards Me. I also extend My love to those who are demonic and who try to put Me to great inconvenience. There is no one in the world whom I do not love.”

Nothing Binds His Boundless Love

Today, the stories of His glory do repeated rounds of the globe, inspiring, empowering and guiding millions of seekers everywhere. Yet, any attempt to convert anyone to any form of a new-age philosophy or an ancient system of belief is starkly conspicuous by its absence in Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s mission. Essentially a non-proselytizing movement, it is rooted in a heart-to-heart connection between Bhagavan Baba and each of His millions of devotees.

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'I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts' - Baba
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Without the use of any public relations campaign or a publicity drive, He has emerged as the Supreme Universal Teacher on the world stage today purely on the strength of this singular doctrine of Love.

Explaining His mission, on July 4, 1968, Baba declared:

“I have come to light the lamp of Love in your hearts, to see that it shines day by day with added luster. I have not come on behalf of any exclusive religion. I have not come on a mission of publicity for a sect or creed or cause, nor have I come to collect followers for a doctrine. I have no plan to attract disciples or devotees into my fold or any fold. I have come to tell you of this unitary faith, this spiritual principle, this path of Love, this virtue of Love, this duty of Love, this obligation of Love.”

Today, the Sai movement is guiding several million devotees through hundreds of chapters of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization in almost every country. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Native Americans, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, free thinkers ….staying true to their own personal belief system and culture, people of every race are drawn to Sai Baba’s guiding life principle of Love, which He urges them to express in action as service to their needy fellow beings.

Despite its enormity as a collective whole, the Sai movement is founded on Bhagavan Baba’s love for the individual that has reached out to one precious life at a time. Today, millions of devotees have billions of interesting stories to share of how they were drawn to Him by the sheer power of His love. For every recorded episode of Bhagavan Baba’s magnetism, there seem to be a million more that remain unrecorded. Yet, the common thread that runs through all of them is this phenomenal power of His love that makes its way to the blessed hearts, whenever the time and circumstances are right and ripe.

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I wield the gigantic powers of Nature,
I hold life and healing,
I hold the fire of the soul,
And I radiate Love.
It is I Who sustain everything in Creation,
Beyond heaven and earth,
I create strife among men and I also bring peace,
I fill both heaven and earth with My presence.
Rig Veda

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Love that Knows no Borders

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Captain Ong speaking in His presence
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What drew a practicing Buddhist, and a commercial pilot by profession, Captain S. S. Ong of Singapore to Baba was “The beauty that lies in His nectarine message of universal love….

"Bhagavan extols one to love one’s religion, so that one may practise it with greater faith and, when each one practises one’s religion with faith, there can be no hatred in the world, for all religions are built on the foundation of universal love.”

This all-inclusive vision of Bhagavan Baba points to universal love as the driving force behind all human aspirations and endeavours. It is the same force that is catapulting humanity above the religious divide to a state of spiritual oneness.

Despite its intangible nature, the power of love as service to and concern for others is on the rise everywhere, proving once again that it is indeed selfless love that lends meaning and purpose to individual lives and groups bound by a higher purpose. This unprecedented rise in concern for the suffering of others in the world’s trouble spots, points to a harvest of human empathy that is rooted in a massive seeding of the human consciousness that took place silently, much earlier on.

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"Bhagavan extols one to love one’s religion, so that one may practise it with greater faith and, when each one practises one’s religion with faith, there can be no hatred in the world, for all religions are built on the foundation of universal love.”

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Imprints of Divine Love in the Cradle of Civilization

The seeds of Sai Baba’s sacred love were planted in the African continent with His historic visit to Uganda and Kenya in July 1968. Decades later, the continent that some anthropologists believe to be the cradle of civilization, continues to draw its spiritual nourishment from the energy of that sacred odyssey. During that time, all forms of life, including Africa’s untouched Nature and undisturbed wildlife yielded in adoration to His overpowering loving presence. The waves of warmth generated then are continuing to engulf millions even today. Once touched by His love, the reservoir of love within each heart is hard to hold back. As most of the devotees we interviewed for this feature vouch, it has to be experienced personally to understand its immeasurable magnitude.

Mr. Jay Ravji Jethva was a sickly little boy, growing up in Kampala, Uganda when Bhagavan Baba visited the country in 1968. An acute asthmatic, his condition debilitated his childhood to the extent that he never slept through the night; nor did his anxious mother who dispensed the pump a dozen odd times to help him breathe. There were times when his parents feared the worst.

During those days, Dr. C. G. Patel was the physician treating him and the very mention of this name sent shivers down the little boy’s spine “Because all I remember of him was giving me inserting needles into me all the time. In those days there were not so many of those pharmaceutical tablets - mostly injections.”

Love Relieves Pain and Suffering

When the news of Bhagavan Baba’s arrival and glory swept through the city, Jethva learned that He was staying at the residence of his very own physician, Dr. C.G. Patel in Kampala! The irony of having the divine healer stay at the residence of his doctor was not lost on the young boy. Nevertheless, so troubled was he due to his poor health that without his parents’ knowledge, he skipped school to catch a glimpse of the holy man everyone was talking about. His heart was desperate for hope.

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Africa responds to the embodiment of Pure Love
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Filling all with divine joy
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Waiting with thousands of others on the street outside Dr. Patel’s residence, Jethva recalls the momentous landmark in his life, “Swami actually came out of the house, and as He is walking in one part of the street... outside … He turns around and starts walking towards me. As He came in front of me, He actually looked at me. I knew He is calling me to Him. The first ever words Swami said to me are How is your asthma? How is your chest?’ That was amazing for me… my heart was still beating fast. I didn’t know what to say. ‘Go in’ He said. I had no idea what that meant.”

Love Confers Fearlessness

While waiting for his turn for a personal audience, young Jethva was “so scared of Swami, … I had no idea what He is going to do, He is this big fuzzy haired man, really all these thoughts were going on in my head. Next, He opens the door, looks at me and calls me in… And then He looks at me and breathes very, very deeply. It is actually as if I was having one of those asthma attacks… I said, ‘Yes... Sai Baba, that’s exactly what happens.’ I am looking up to Him at His stage and He is amazing. Even when I think about it today, my hair stands on end. He then opens His right palm, and says, ‘Look at My palm.’ I keep looking. Then He says ‘Touch it.’ So I touch His palm. It was just as my hand now. Next thing I know, a liquid quietly forms in His hand. And He asks me to just keep looking. As I keep staring, more and more liquid comes out.”

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He knows only one religion - Love
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For Him, there is only one race
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Today, 40 years later, Jethva hasn’t forgotten the joy and freedom from the fear of the dreaded disease that he experienced from the healing ambrosia. “I was extremely ecstatic that He is actually going to cure me... it was overwhelming happiness, and finally a sense of hope, lots of emotions going on… He patted my shoulders and gave me some packets of vibhuti, the sacred ash. He said ‘Look, no more asthma, from now on’.

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I am looking up to Him at His stage and He is amazing. Even when I think about it today, my hair stands on end. He then opens His right palm, and says, ‘Look at My palm.’ I keep looking. Then He says ‘Touch it.’ So I touch His palm. It was just as my hand now. Next thing I know, a liquid quietly forms in His hand. And He asks me to just keep looking. As I keep staring, more and more liquid comes out.”

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Jethva reels with joy even today when he recalls that liberating moment, “I was feeling totally ecstatic. I took padanamaskar and left the room. You should have seen me run home like an African lion, and I threw my arms around my mother, telling her all that had happened. She was really very happy…I told her that He said, ‘No more asthma. No more suffering’.”

That night, Jethva had yet another sleepless night. This time, it was not because of his asthma but the overwhelming love from his divine encounter that left him gasping in ecstasy. He couldn’t contain his joy. From that day on, he has always remembered Sai with gratitude.

For the rest of the few days that Bhagavan Baba was in Kampala, all that little Jethva did was to run behind His car and listen to His public discourses. “Not that I understood them at that age, but I just wanted to hear Him, and see other people around me being so ecstatic, so happy beholding Him. I was completely and utterly captivated by Swami” he admitted. The bond of pure love had been secured for life.

Reaping the Harvest of Sai’s Love in Africa, a Generation Later

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Principal Daniel Otieno of the Sathya Sai School, Uthiru, Nairobi, Kenya
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Mr. Daniel Otieno is also from the African nation of Kenya. Born years after Sai’s sacred sojourn to Africa, he was brought up in the Christian tradition. Growing up, he tried exploring Christianity through the Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal and Born Again churches.

Finally, when he was in university, he was visiting a friend who owned an electrical store. While the latter was attending to a customer, the waiting Otieno glanced at a picture of Sai Baba on the wall and read His quotations under it and was simply blown away by the power of its wisdom.

“I looked at the photo and the quotations written on that. I was instantly impressed by the wisdom. I thought he was some kind of philosopher, or a highly educated person… My friend told me it is Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He is more than a philosopher. He gave me a book called Education in Human Values by Loraine Burrows from the Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Thailand.

"One Saturday morning, I woke up and started reading it. I did not put it down until I was through…that weekend I asked for another one. What did he give me? Man of Miracles by Howard Murphet. I read it within a day and I wanted to meet this Sai Baba immediately… After a period of time, I finished my university [with a degree in Education]. That’s when my friend told me that there was a conference in Puttaparthi for teachers!”

Arriving in Puttaparthi, in May 1988, while Daniel was smitten by Sai’s wisdom, he still harboured some scepticism about the possibility of divinity incarnating in human form. The inner dilemma and doubting continued, as he thought it was preposterous to believe that “a human being like you could be a God? Because being a Christian, the concept of Avatar is very alien. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know any other reincarnations of God. So it was very usual for me, who has been brought up as Christian to have this scepticism.”

Little did he know that this was all going to change within a week! He explained “We went for the first darshan. The moment I saw Swami, an intense feeling of warmth came through my heart and I just felt this deep feeling of love… it was heavenly.”

Once the instrumental darshan music came on and the beautiful form of Sai gently glided by, Daniel Otieno was not the same person. “I imagined myself in heaven. This was something that was beyond the usual,” he accepted.

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The inner dilemma and doubting continued, as he thought it was preposterous to believe that “a human being like you could be a God? Because being a Christian, the concept of Avatar is very alien. Apart from Jesus Christ, we do not know any other reincarnations of God. So it was very usual for me, who has been brought up as Christian to have this scepticism.”

Little did he know that this was all going to change within a week! He explained “We went for the first darshan. The moment I saw Swami, an intense feeling of warmth came through my heart and I just felt this deep feeling of love…
it was heavenly.”

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Daniel

 
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Impressed by the wisdom
of the Sai quote - Daniel Otieno
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Omniscience of Divinity and Maternal Concern

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'Very good boys, very happy boys, but only one problem, you complain too much' - Baba
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During the week-long trip, Daniel Otieno had a deep yearning for a personal audience with Baba. On the very last day, that dream too came true.

He explained, “Swami took us inside the room. He said ‘Ok. Boys from Kenya, how are you? Very good boys, very happy boys, but only one problem, you complain too much. Because, when you are out there, you are grumbling, doubting, if Swami is going to call us?’ Swami told us exactly what we were talking about when we were outside.”

Those who have direct experiences with Him often compare Sai Baba’s love to that of a thousand mothers. Daniel Otieno experienced it first-hand when, during the course of that interview, Swami demonstrated concern for his poor health and advised him to “Eat more and eat well. Why are you so thin like this?”

Otieno admitted that at that time, he was extremely emaciated and rather unconcerned about his health. He hardly cared about the well-being of his body, which Baba says, is the temple of God. His immediate response to Baba’s motherly concern was to quit smoking forever. Even before he stepped out of the interview room, he had resolved to take better care of his health. Baba’s magical love had set the pace for carving an instrument of choice out of Otieno.

Currently, he serves as the Principal of the Sathya Sai School, Uthiru in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also the Deputy Director of African Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Nairobi campus.

From Iran to India, Home is where the (Loving) Heart is

Janab Zade Naveed of Iran, studied Molecular Biology in Turkey and worked in a Clinical Laboratory for 15 years, before Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s love drew him to India. Since the last four years, the Naveed family has moved to India and resides in Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of Bhagavan Baba. Their little son attends the Primary wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School there while Naveed and his wife call the ashram their home.

Responding to His Call of Love

Janab Zade Naveed firmly believes that no one can come to Sai without His divine call. In his case, Sai summoned the family using the excuse of his mother-in-law’s illness, as she was on dialysis. When conventional methods of treatment failed to help her, the couple decided to seek a cure for the mother from a higher power. Before this drastic recourse, they had taken her to “many doctors … even the kidney transplant was not successful. My mother-in-law was suffering very much” he recalled.

Tryst with Divinity Guided by a Higher Power

Fifteen years ago, Naveed’s wife had been introduced to Baba through her spiritual friends in Iran. Under the trying circumstances, the young couple decided to come and meet Him and ask for a cure. They didn’t even know His full name and it was their first trip to India and they managed to find their way to His ashram in Whitefield, on the outskirts of Bangalore city. It was as though the universe had synchronized the turning point in their lives that was about to unveil itself. Within a week of their arrival at His ashram at Trayee Brindavan, Whitefield, they were blessed with an interview.

Since that time, the Naveeds firmly believe that the incarnation of Love, Sri Sathya Sai Baba is guiding their lives, every step of the way. Recalling the decisive moment in their lives 14 years ago, they attribute that meeting with Sai Baba as the beginning of a new journey when their life’s priorities underwent a dramatic change.

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Iranian Microbiologist Mr. Janab Zade Naveed explains his transformation
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Fear of God Replaced by Love for God

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'Sai transformed our Fear of God to
Love for God' - Naveed
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Naveed cherishes the love for God and Islam that he has developed after coming to Bhagavan Baba. He says, “Although we were born Muslims we were not really bonded to our religion... I don’t want to say we were faithless, but we were in fear of God.

"During the first darshan [my wife] heard His voice, that was telling her to read a particular Soorah of the Quran. She was trying to remember that Quran, but she couldn’t. She saw one woman amongst the ladies sitting a few rows ahead of her, carrying with her a green book. She thought it may be the Quran and asked her if it was. That lady was from Algeria… That moment, Swami started coming, and music started.

"My wife closed her eyes and opened the Quran randomly and she found the same Soorah right there! It was telling answers to all her questions. The meaning of that Soorah was thus: ‘Do we just take the entire burden on your shoulder? You don’t need to worry about problems. Just have faith in God’.”

“As I told you, the illness of my mother-in-law was only an excuse, it was just the reason we came to Swami. Swami didn’t cure her. Swami cured us. He made us faithful to not just His teachings, but to our own religion!” he pointed out.

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“As I told you, the illness of my mother-in-law was only an excuse, it was just the reason we came to Swami. Swami didn’t cure her. Swami cured us. He made us faithful to not just His teachings, but to our own religion!”

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Love: Universal Cure for Individual Angst

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Janet Bicker's tryst with the Sai at the peak of the turbulent 1960's America
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Just as an Iranian Muslim family’s fear of God turned into love for Allah and His message, decades earlier, a young and impressionable American woman had found an antidote to the angst of her times in Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s brand of selfless and universal love.

A typical product of her times and the world, Janet Bicker had an unusually vast exposure to the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. During College, she had watched more than her fair share of the effects of violence in the world.

She had visited Korea, to entertain American troops. She recalled the era when “There was a group of us, who sang and danced and we performed entertainment for the troops. We were standing on a barren hill-side, singing to soldiers in a fox-hole, and you knew that the North Koreans had you on their gun-sight but, because it was such an honour to be able to do that, I wasn’t afraid.”

A rebel with a cause, Janet Bicker visited both East Germany and West Germany, and witnessed first-hand the devastation that still existed as a result of the war. She also drove through some Communist countries in Europe all by herself.

Reality Shatters the Idealism of Youth

Disillusioned with the state of the world due to violence, mistrust and hatred, she returned home to America at a time when the American conscience was undergoing a severe catharsis due to the prevalent political and social turmoil. She recalled this time “Which was extremely rebellious in America – lots of riots, religious and political leaders being assassinated – Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy Senior - the air was just filled with this kind of antagonism.”

Seeking Refuge in the Oneness of Vedanta

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In Sai, the rebel in Janet finally found her cause
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Upon her return, one of the first experiences that she had was of going to visit a friend in Hollywood and Janet is unlikely to forget it. “At that time, you took the Hollywood freeway, and you passed this interesting looking building on the north side of the freeway, which was the Vedanta temple and it had a beautiful white dome…

"that was my introduction to Vedanta. I read about Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and I especially read about Mother Sharada Devi,” remembered Janet.

By age 24, the free-spirited explorer in Janet Bicker had been there and done that, and her introduction to the Vedantic thought was just timely, as it helped her “Make sense of the world."

" Yes, you have action, reaction, and then you have karma. You know, when you are growing up in the Christian Church, you learn the golden rule – ‘Do unto others as you would want others to do to you.’ But I feel they leave out the second part which says – they are going to do unto you what you do unto them! I mean, this is that karmic play where there’s action, there is reaction, resound and reflection,” she explained.

Shortly after, she got a job in Dick Bock’s office. That is when she learnt that the legendary follower of Bhagavan Baba, Indira Devi, also known as the first lady of Yoga in the West, was coming to the East-West Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

A Rebel Finally Finds Her True Cause

Indira Devi’s presentation on Bhagavan Baba and His message bore a powerful impact on Janet. She explains “The reading that I had done prior to this experience, set the stage so that the presence of Swami seemed a natural out-growth of what I had learnt from the Vedanta.”

Against this background, when Janet took recourse in such books as Arthur Osborne’s The Incredible Sai Baba and delved into the teachings of Shirdi Sai, and then got the book Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram, Part1 about Sri Sathya Sai Baba from India, in her own words, “It is hard to describe how powerful something like this can be when you are living in an environment that is saturated with violence that is not always acted out but is internal and emotional and everybody is arguing with everybody else.

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Janet

 
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Divine hand led Janet to Sai's love
through His literature
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“That was the beginning of my experience with Swami and I would say it was the salvation of my life, turning me in a new direction; moving me away from that rebelliousness and revolutionary feeling that was so prevalent!”

Suddenly, in Bhagavan Baba’s message of love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding, Janet saw the ultimate redemption of humanity, which she has so closely watched at war with itself. She was soon to receive an experiential lesson in the power of love to overcome all obstacles, including attachment.

Love Bestows Freedom from Attachment

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Janet Bicker, instrumental in recording early
Sai glory on camera for posterity
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By now, Janet hoped to one day visit Bhagavan Baba in India. That’s when her house was broken into and a lot of her valuables stolen. A friend put even that unpleasant experience into perspective for Janet.

“A wise friend said later: ‘You know, it is the vibration of the attachment that we put on objects, that draws somebody else who has vibrations of attachment.’ So, what I am attached to actually attracts somebody who wants it by my feelings of attachment. So, of course, all the things that I had really loved, my guitar, camera, audio equipment that I had bought and brought home from Germany – all of these things were gone.

"But, there is this nice little feature of the tax system. If you had a robbery, and if you can corroborate with receipts and things, you can then deduct it from your taxes. So, I did that, and by the next year, the money came back, and it was enough for a ticket to India!” she recalled jubilantly.

The rest of course is history, as shortly after responding to His love, Janet Bicker played a key role in recording on video and photographs, the early years of Bhagavan Baba’s glory, creating a veritable treasure trove of divine memories for posterity.

Love: the Ultimate Unifier

Be it Janet Bicker, an American of Christian upbringing, growing up in the troubled 1960’s in the United States, or an asthmatic child from a Hindu background in Kampala, Uganda, or a Muslim family from Iran that is now more devout in their faith than ever before, or a Buddhist from Singapore who brings not just his body or mind to his job as a commercial airline pilot, but also his loving soul - what drew each of them and millions of others to Sathya Sai Baba was this call of Love.

Every person who has known Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has a personalized and unique account of how they were drawn to Him. Interesting and inspiring, these experiences are only the tip of the much larger iceberg, as the real journey of inner transformation begins only after devotees take the leap of faith and accept Him as their life coach and role model.

This entails a firm resolve to live their lives in synchronicity with His teachings, based purely on the doctrine of unconditional and non-judgmental love towards all, including those who disagree with them! Once accepted in His school of inner transformation, the Universal Divine Teacher that is Bhagavan Baba, picks a course suited for the person’s growth, and only once each level of challenge is cleared, often through some tough exams He poses, does the devotee move up their growth curve.

The process is intense. Sufi mystic Jalal ad-Din Rumi explains,

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Once beckoned by a Master of Supreme Wisdom, what begins is a journey of the soul towards the final frontier – its self-fulfillment. The effect of love on individual lives is literally “life transforming” in every sense of the expression. Once drawn to Sai’s circle of Love, how do the changes that are wrought from within lead to changes in personality, perspective, priorities and panache in life of the individuals involved? Does everyone experience it? Is the transformation universal across the board? How does one cope with moments of ecstasy involved, often followed by pangs of severe agony?

Part Two of this cover story addresses some of these issues. Do join us in the search for the real-life impact of the “L” factor in the lives of those who have dared to embrace it.

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The Divine Universal Teacher Bhagavan Baba: The Embodiment of the Purest,
Absolutely Unconditional, All-Accepting Love
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End of Part-1

Part: 1 | 2 | Next >>

 

- Bishu Prusty
Heart2Heart Team

 

Dear reader, how did you like this story? Did it inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories focussed only on Bhagavan Baba's love? Please write to us at [email protected] with your name and country. We look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions to help us serve you better. Thank you very much for your time.


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Vol 6 Issue 11 - NOVEMBER 2008
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