Volume 16 - Issue 03
March 2018
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Posted on: Mar 10, 2018


Article - 02

The spiritual path is akin to walking on a razor’s edge, it has been rightly said. This path is an inner journey towards the discovery of the true ‘Self’ and is fraught with several hidden dangers. Hence in the Indian spiritual tradition, and in many others like the Sufi system or in the Buddhist sanghas, the spiritual aspirant was advised to be under the guidance or tutelage of a preceptor, or the Guru.

In these times of unbridled freedom, and the push towards individualism, the guru-shishya parampara (the preceptor-disciple system) might seem archaic. One may wonder as to why this necessity for a Guru? Are not the scriptures (shastras/sacred texts) enough to guide one along this path? And in this digital age and age of quick-fixes, there are so many self-help apps even, that promise quick enlightenment! Not many have the time for the ‘process’ of spiritual learning. So why at all, do we need a Guru?

To put it in a nutshell, learning in any field is a process that cannot be hurried. Just as to learn carpentry, or music, or architecture or accounting, or any skill for that matter, one needs to be apprenticed to an expert, so too in spirituality. In the spiritual realm too, to be with one who has already traversed the path, and seen the light, is essential, to withstand the rigours and avoid the pitfalls of this important journey of the spirit. After all, one meaning of the term ‘Guru’ is ‘dispeller of darkness’.

Then comes the vital question as to how does one find a genuine Guru, in this materialistic Kali Age? The Iron Age or Kali Yuga is also called Kalaha Yuga - the age of conflict and confusion. How does one find a Teacher who is true and will not mislead or betray? It is in this context that Bhagawan in His loving mercifulness has said,

The Guru has often to tell you that you have forgotten your real name or that you have lost the most precious part of yourself. If you do not get such a Guru, pray to the Lord Himself to show you the way, and He will surely come to your rescue”.

And thus, many have been led to Bhagawan Himself, the Poorna Avatar of the Kali Age, by many mysterious coincidences and ‘nudges’ from the Universe. To get the Omnipresent Divine Himself as the Guru is due to His Grace, and to continue to receive His inner guidance and loving protection at all times, is the legacy of Bhagawan for His beloved devotees.

Go to Article - 01

And the Greatest of All is LOVE

by Ms. Depy Spyratou (Surya)

Depy Spyratou was born in Kenya, Africa, where her parents, who were Greek expatriates, had migrated in the 50s and had a coffee plantation. Born in Nairobi during the Mau Mau uprising against the colonial powers, Depy credits her family being unharmed due to Bhagawan’s mysterious intervention and protection during those dangerous times.

She spent her early childhood in the beautiful African wilds, finding solace in nature, when she lost her mother early on. At the age of twelve, she moved to her native Greece for schooling and ‘lost’ the country that she had loved with a passion. After graduating with a Masters in Business Administration, she has worked and lived in many countries including Greece, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Kenya, Iceland, India, Tanzania and Germany.  She also has a deep interest in wild life and photography. However, in her own words, ‘I am an artist at heart, a modern-day nomad and a pilgrim of all world religions’. Depy considers India as her spiritual home, and Puttaparthi specifically as her true place of origin and rest.

There have been many blessings in my life, and many losses too. Together, they have led me to the One who would never let me down, the One who would never abandon me. And through it all, it is He who has taken care of me and given meaning to this birth, and to this life.

The Unmistakable Mysterious Signs from Sai

I have often tried to remember when exactly my beloved Swami first made His existence known to me in this lifetime. Looking back, it was sometime in the early 90s, 1992 perhaps, when I first heard His name and saw His face in a photograph, while living in Iceland. Swami had unobtrusively entered my life and then He never left!

  The author on a blissful morning in Puttaparthi

But even before that, unknown to me, He was always watching over us in His ever-bountiful Love. I recall how years before I came to know of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, I went to the Spiritual Society of GB, in London, with my daughter.

My husband had died in an accident and we wanted to try and find out, with the help of a medium (who can communicate with souls of the other world), what had really happened.

At one point, I asked the medium whether my husband was now protecting his daughter, from another dimension. To my surprise, she answered: "No, her father is not taking care of her, but since her birth, a man from the East is always by her side. He is a Holy man, and men dressed in white bow before him".

As I knew of no holy man at that time, I went on to interpret her statement with my limited knowledge. She must mean a Muslim in some mosque somewhere in the Arab world! India was far from my thoughts.

In the early 90s, I had just moved to Iceland - a big change for me, a Greek, born and raised in East Africa!

One of my earliest friends in Iceland was Margaret. She often travelled to India for her business, and during her trips she had visited a certain Sathya Sai Baba. Until she spoke of Him, I had never heard His name, or anything about Him.

One of her friends had a meditation hall and there Margaret had hung a framed photo of Swami that she had brought with her from Puttaparthi. This was the first time that I saw Him. I looked, took note and then carried on with life as if I hadn't seen! But the seed must have been silently planted.

Sai Prepares Depy's Heart for His Descent

At around the same time, in the company where I worked, one of the directors had also visited India. He was very spiritual and constantly urged me to 'go to India'. One day, he gave me a present; it was the best gift that he could have given me. It was the beautiful book Autobiography of a Yogi by Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda. 

After that, my whole life changed. The quest for the Divine and the spiritual, awoke in me – my search began, for Truth and Beauty, and for God, who is all this and so much more. I longed to fly East, to India, and in 1995, my dream came true.

With friends, I stayed in Rajasthan and then stepped into Varanasi, where I visited the home of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, the Guru of Sri Yukteshwar Giri, who was in turn Sri Yogananda's Guru! I felt very blessed and this was the beginning of my spiritual search. After Varanasi, I spent two glorious weeks, alone, at Sri Yogananda's Ashram at Ranchi, and I felt so much that I belonged to India, to spiritual India.

While I was there I remember someone asking me if I knew Sai Baba and I also remember my answer, with amusement. 'That man, who does miracles and where so many crowds go? I would never go there!'

From Ranchi, I took the train to Kolkata, to Sri Yogananda’s ashram, and his room, where he had experienced several visions of Divinity. I also had the opportunity of praying in Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's room at Belur Math, which was very special due to the strong energy in the room. An early morning visit to the famous Kali temple at Kalighat, was another unforgettable experience.

The joy of letting a light float on the serene waters of Mother Ganga in Varanasi

I was by now totally carried away by my quest, I was on my way but still had no idea what treasure I would eventually find or where all this was taking me. My hunger for the real and the meaningful in life was getting stronger and stronger.

During this time, I also visited Mother Meera in Germany. I saw her devotees crying out of love during darshan and felt a little bit sad that I couldn't cry like them! I remember thinking what a wonderful feeling it must be to shed tears of devotion and love. I wanted to share that feeling too but it would take more than five years for me to experience that immense joy and love myself.

Back in Iceland, around 1997, an Indian gentleman who we met at a dinner party, showed me a photo of Baba that he had in his purse. 'I always have Sai Baba's photo with me because I was told that if you have His photo, He will always protect you'.

'Interesting', I thought, and moved on, yet again.

It was now 1999 and I was back in Greece, physically and mentally exhausted from difficult personal events. I felt my heart aching all the time. Not knowing how to strengthen myself, I asked a cousin to give me a contact she had of a reflexologist. She gave me a phone number and I called Vasso in the October of ‘99.

Although she generally went to her patients’ homes, for some unknown reason, I insisted that I must visit her at her home! Little did I know that this drive to meet her would change my life forever, bringing in the biggest blessing of my life.

Her home stood alone, on a hill surrounded with pine trees.  I walked in, to be greeted by a smiling, warm person, and right behind her was a full-size photo of the One I had said I would never ever visit! As I was soon to learn, our plans and Swami's plans have very little in common! After finishing the session, I went back home, and I took with me the book by Samuel Sandweiss, ‘Sai Baba: The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist’.

When Words Lost Power and Heart Erupted in Ecstasy

I read it and on my next visit I informed Vasso that I wanted to go and visit this Sai Baba. When she told me that a group of Greeks would be going in February 2000, I immediately decided to go with them. But when I arrived at the airport there was no group flying to my destination, so I flew on to Bahrain, thinking I was on my own. Again, Swami had other plans for me; perhaps He did not like the idea of a lady devotee arriving solo in Mumbai at 4 A.M. and going alone to a hotel for the night.

At Bahrain Airport, while I was at the gate, a woman asked me in English, 'Where are you going?’

And I answered, 'I am going to Puttaparthi'. I do not know why I said ‘Puttaparthi’ and not ‘India’. Of course, Marion and Kalinka were also going to Puttaparthi. What a fantastic coincidence! Marion and I were together for the rest of that trip. How beautifully Swami arranges everything!

I, who was never going to visit 'this man', was finally Home. And at this, my eternal home, I found out what it feels like to cry out of love and devotion. When I saw Swami for the first time, my heart just cracked open and so much love flowed through my being that it could not be contained. I looked down the line where I sat, and everyone else was similarly crying that day. 

When people ask me about Swami I always say to them that what I feel for Him has not come from books or knowledge. My heart felt such bliss and this bliss, and this love is what He is for me. He is an experience that cannot be explained. Each of us experiences Him uniquely. Experiencing Him cannot be taught or learnt, for He is PURE, ENDLESS LOVE.

Part 2

- Radio Sai Team

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