Volume 12 - Issue 01
January 2014
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Posted on: Jan 8, 2014


MY “SAI SURPRISES” IN PRESIDENT MANDELA’S OFFICE

Mr. VivekAnanda Naicker


South African teacher, later journalist-turned-diplomat, Mr. VivekAnanda Naicker was spokesman for Interim Independent Electoral Commission in “liberation” election of 1994. During Mandela’s term of office, he was in charge of media affairs for President’s State Visitors’ Programme and other Parliamentary matters.

Called to India twice by Swami, he has lived in Whitefield, Puttaparthi and Tiruvannamalai for ten years since his retirement from Public Service in 2002. Of Tamil and Telugu descent, he is third generation South African with Overseas Indian Citizen status. Besides being a writer and editor, he paints in oil and water colours for relaxation, and is presently in SA, intending to return to India in 2014.

As millions around the world mourned, one of the world’s most popular and universally-loved statesmen of all time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, lovingly called by his Xhosa tribal name Madiba by many around the world, was laid to rest in his rural home village of Quno in the Eastern Cape on Sunday, 15th December, 2013.

Appearing on the world stage at a time when humanity was mired in a morass of racial dis-crimination and bigotry, Mandela restored their lost dignity to millions of oppressed people not only in post-apartheid South Africa but throughout the world. In doing so, he became the most widely-known liberator the world has ever known.

As one television commentator remarked when the South African Air Force C-130 carrying Mandela’s body on its final journey landed in Umtata on that Sunday, he was not only the President of South Africa, he seemed to be the President of the World, for his name and his reputation were known in the remotest corners of this planet.

In my ten years on the spiritual path in India, I learned that everything in existence throughout the cosmos vibrates in accordance with a Divine harmony. Everything has its place; there are no stray notes, no anomalies. Nothing happens at random, for within the seeming chaos of the cosmic explosion, there is Divine order. God as awesome energy is the Conductor of this Divine Harmony, and His baton is unconditional love.

Believing implicitly as I do that the constant reincarnation of all life on earth and throughout the cosmos is linked to karma and the evolution of the human spirit, I have known that beloved Madiba was an elevated soul that reincarnated in South Africa at this time to fulfil a crucial universal role.

This once unhappy country was only the classroom, its apartheid ideology only the object of a profound lesson. The real target audience of Mandela’s teaching was humanity across the length and breadth of this planet, for what applied to South Africa applied equally to the world. Such refined and elevated teachers have always incarnated throughout the history of mankind to instruct and to guide.

As much as he will continue to live in our memories, Mandela leaves us with a weighty yet inescapable responsibility. He sacrificed much to stand up for his beliefs which had to do with the inherent dignity of all mankind. He fought not for his personal liberation but for the liberation of the human spirit. Ours and future generations not only in this country but world-wide will have to live up to his call for universal love and peace among men. We cannot do otherwise without desecrating his memory.

This tribute was written as the world’s attention was focused on South Africa, as final preparations were being made in Quno to lay Mandela’s body to rest. It occurred to me that this was an appropriate moment to place on record my own little part in the great saga of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and to take this opportunity to ask a pertinent question.

As the world mourned the passing of South Africa’s great son, I searched through my computer files for entries relating to him in my working journal kept over his years in office. I was at that time a senior official of the South African Communication Service. My main function was to oversee and facilitate the national and international media coverage of State matters.

The following is an extract from my journal for 1995 and was written not long after he became the first black President of the Republic of South Africa. My question follows the extract quoted below:

 

When I arrived at the block of offices known as 420 Plein within Parliamentary precincts to take office in January, 1995, a young Afrikaner policewoman met me at reception to process my Parliamentary ID card. As I filled the forms after my photograph had been taken, she remarked that my name was the same at that of her commanding officer. I was intrigued by the coincidence.

She was stationed at the Parliamentary Police Station, which looks after security within the environs of Parliament. When she came to my office later to hand me my Parliamentary Pass, she said that her commander Brigadier V Naicker (exactly the same as my name) would like me to join him to tea that morning at ten. She offered to fetch me at 9.45 a.m. to guide me to his office.

She came to my offices promptly at the agreed time and we walked through the famous Parliamentary Gardens and between the various buildings in the security area around Parliament. The Parliamentary Police Station is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. It is a quaint, Dutch-style cottage built during the time of Jan van Riebeeck, the first Governor of the old Cape Colony which grew over the centuries into South Africa. It is now classified as an historical building.

Dressed in an impeccable civilian suit, the Brigadier was talking on the telephone when I was led into his office by the policewoman. He returned her salute and gestured to me to sit down as she left the office. As he rounded off his conversation on the phone, I noticed the ring with Sai Baba’s portrait on his right hand. After he put down the phone and shook my hand, I held up my own right hand so that he could see my own ring which was exactly the same as his and is common in the shops outside the gates of Prasanthi Nilayam. He promptly put his palms together and exclaimed, ”Sai Ram, brother!”

Although we had the same first name initial and surname, his first name was Vadi while mine is Vivek. We became friends and the following week, he invited me to a vegetarian dinner at his home on a Thursday evening to meet his wife and children. Afterwards we went to a service at a Sai centre in Rylands, where he introduced me to the assembled devotees and invited me to talk to them of my first interview with Swami in February, 1993.

Sights such as this is quite common in South Africa. Swami's pictures and messages are displayed in public spaces and on public buses making Swami a household name and personality there

Another surprise awaited me the following day when I went to meet the President’s personal staff. I was told beforehand that his Private Secretary was the most important in the President’s Office. As his Girl Friday, she made and monitored all his appointments. If one were not on her right side, it was almost impossible to see the President.

She had been referred to only as Priscilla by my guide and so I had no idea what to expect. When we arrived at the President’s suite and I was introduced to her, I was somewhat surprised to see that she was Indian, Priscilla Naidoo. I was even more intrigued when I was told later that she was a Sai devotee. I was to interact often with Priscilla over the years of President Mandela’s term of office.

So President Mandela’s Private Secretary Priscilla Naidoo, his Chief Parliamentary Security Officer Brigadier Vadi Naicker and I, then in charge of media affairs for the President’s State Visitors’ Programme, were not only Indian South Africans, but also all Sai devotees.

Later, towards the latter part of President Mandela’s term, when I left the SA Communication Service to join the Independent Electoral Commission to help prepare the country for the first election in a democratic South Africa in 1999, I handed over in Cape Town to a young Foreign Affairs officer who was to take over my media duties in Parliament. He was also Indian, and also, as it turned out, a Sai devotee.

And now for my question: Was all this mere coincidence or clear indication of a minutely-conceived, numinous cosmic blueprint?

Dear Reader,

Even though we have no knowledge of whether President Mandela ever heard about the Sathya Sai Avatar or read His teachings, what is definitely sure is that he was guided and goaded to steadfastly pursue the path of truth, forgiveness, peace and non-violence through the power of the Cosmic Sai, the same Divine Consciousness which conferred all the strength, fearlessness and courage to Mahatma Gandhi. By the grace of the Divine, time and again personalities emerge in our history who demonstrates to us in unequivocal terms that infinitely greater than the strength of the body or the intelligence of the mind is the power of the Spirit! The account by this devotee from South Africa gives us a hint, that values dear to Swami are sure to have suffused the office of President Mandela through these many devotees working there. After all the unrelenting adherence to these values is what we celebrate the life of Madiba for!

With Much Love
Radio Sai Team


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