Volume 17 - Issue 12
December 2019
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Posted on: Dec 24, 2019



By Mr John Behner

Mr John Behner first came into Bhagawan’s fold in 1979 and since then has been serving the Sai movement through different roles, as SSE teacher, Center President, Central Council President and Zone Chairman of Latin America since 1995, to name a few.

Apart from being a successful businessman owning the first frozen food company in Central America, he has also worked for 20 years as a country manager in a multinational food company. After his retirement in 2005, he has been working full-time for the Sathya Sai International Organization in several roles such as Disaster Relief Co-Chairman for the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation since 2013 and Assistant Secretary of the Prasanthi Council. He is the President of the Sai Foundation of El Salvador since 1989. He has had the unique blessing of being the co-ordinator of the Christmas celebrations at Prasanthi Nilayam for 13 years.

In this article he enlightens us about the rare story of the sacred life of Anna, the grandmother of Jesus.

Anna, the grandmother of Jesus, is a remarkable person little known by the Christian world.  She had three daughters and all of them were named “Mary”.

Little is known about her healing abilities, but she was trained in the temple of Jerusalem as was Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Anna’s father was Stolan, a scribe who translated the scriptures to Aramaic, and also taught the people about the history of the Jewish nation.

The Sacred Childhood of Anna

The head Imam of Aish-Muquam shows the wall
where the staff of Jesus (and Moses) is kept in the upper lockers

Anna’s mother, Emerentiana was related to King David and his son, King Solomon. Thus Jesus was truly destined to be the king of the Jews and his birth had been prophesised eight centuries earlier. The staff of Moses, made of olive wood, was passed down to each king, and is remembered as the staff of Jesus.  Its resting place is in the Aish-Muquam temple in Kashmir, close to the tomb of Moses and the tomb of Jesus in Rosabal.

Anna grew up to be a beautiful woman. She was educated in the temple of Jerusalem from the age of 5 till 15, along with other young maidens from the wealthy class. These people were hopeful that their daughters would become the chosen channel through which the promised king of the Jews would be born.

Anna however had other ideas as she did not want to marry, but wanted to become a healer. She had several experiences where the sick were healed by her touch.

However, when she was taken out of the temple by her father and brought to their home in Nazareth, her father allowed her and her mother Emerentiana to visit the Essene community on Mount Carmel. There they were introduced to three monks who knew the art of prophecy. The monks told Emerentiana that she was the tree on which would grow a sturdy branch that would have a beautiful flower who would bear a fruit that would reach heaven.

The interpretation was that the sturdy branch was Anna. The beautiful flower was the daughter to be born to Anna (Mary) and the fruit was the messiah Jesus, the long-awaited king of the Jews. So then and there, Anna changed her mind and agreed to marriage.

The Divinely Ordained Marriage of Anna

Her father sent out the word that Anna was ready for marriage. Applicants of royal blood were to present themselves to her father in Nazareth, together with a freshly cut acacia branch. 

Six suitors of royal lineage presented themselves and spoke to Anna’s father about their qualifications and each left an acacia branch. But none of the branches became green after two weeks. 

It was thought that maybe someone older or from outside Judea should be sought.  But then a young and wealthy shepherd appeared.  His name was Joachim from the race of David and the tribe of Levi. He was young and broad shouldered. He left a staff, and lo and behold, it became green after a couple of weeks.

So Anna’s marriage to Joachim was set. But after 19 long years of marriage, still they had no child. Anna and her husband became outcasts, and even their offerings to the temple in Jerusalem were refused. 

The Holy Birth of Mary


Then one night, the archangel Gabriel visited Anna. Gabriel told her that she was the grain of wheat that had waited all these years to be planted, and that now she will be set in rich earth and the magic seed would sprout.

The angel proclaimed: “God’s bounty is now yours.  Rejoice in the knowledge that you will be a channel for his life substance that will benefit mankind for countless ages to come.”

Within a year, Anna gave birth to a baby girl who was named Mary. Mary was a beautiful and smart child.  She was schooled by Anna who had spent 10 years in the temple.

Anna could speak several languages and knew the law and the prophets. She was convinced that Mary had been conceived by spiritual love instead of a physical union. Thus she promised to give Mary up to the Essene Temple from the age of three.

Even though she was younger than the other girls, Mary could start her education and she showed an amazing insight into spirituality which her mother Anna had taught her. 

But no sooner was she in the Essene Temple school than her father Joachim passed away.  A year later Anna married the brother of Joachim, Cleophas. 

He was a wealthy shop keeper whose first wife had died a few years earlier. Anna was already past 40.  But once again she became pregnant and gave birth to another baby girl, who she named also as Mary. The second Mary became ill and died when she was only two years old.

Nine years had now passed since the first Mary had entered the Essene temple. She learned quickly, and at the age of 12, she was taken to the temple in Jerusalem to finish her education. Then at the age of 15 she left the temple to move into the home of Anna in Jerusalem.  But like her mother she did not want to marry.

God Brings Joseph to Mary for His Divine Advent

Anna and Cleophas tried to make her aware of her destiny to become the channel for the birth of the awaited messiah but she was not convinced. Finally Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she was to be married immediately but would remain a virgin and that her first born would be an immaculate conception.  Cleophas went to Mount Carmel and the Essene monks told him that the name of the father would be Joseph.


So immediately a search was made for someone named Joseph who would be willing to marry and live without cohabitation with Mary.  When Joseph was finally found, he was old enough to be Mary’s father, but he was willing to marry her.  It is said that Mary was already pregnant. When Joseph found this out, he was ready to abandon the marriage, but the Archangel Gabriel came to the rescue and told him of the divine plan and that the child was to be named Jesus. Then he repented and asked god for forgiveness.

Their marriage took place in the temple. Before the birth of Jesus, the governor had declared a census and Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem to comply with the order. Cleophas provided them with donkeys and even though Mary was in an advanced state of pregnancy they started out on the journey.

Two weeks later, word reached Anna and Cleophas that the child Jesus had been born. 800 years earlier, the Prophet Micah had foretold that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which was also the birthplace of the Shepherd who was to become King David.

Anna was now 50 years old and was anxiously awaiting the return of Mary and Joseph with her grandson Jesus.  But before this could happen, the wisemen had visited King Harod and told him of the birth of Jesus.

Harod pretended that he wanted to visit the child too, but in reality he was afraid of the prophecy that Jesus would become the king of the Jews. So he ordered the murder of all the male infants under two years of age.  He invited all the parents to the temple in Jerusalem with their male offspring, and instead of rewarding them as promised, the young ones were sacrificed.

Mary and Joseph were warned of what was happening in Jerusalem and made their escape with Jesus into Egypt. Shortly after, Cleophas was killed by a mob in Jerusalem and Anna became a widow for the second time.  However, Cleophas and Joachim had another younger brother. Anna was married to him within a year, and she again became a mother. Her third daughter was also named Mary. 

Then Salamo, her husband, went to Emperor Caesar Augustus in Rome with a petition by the Jewish population in Judea for relief from the taxes which had been levied on them by Harod, the ruler appointed by Rome. On his return trip from Rome, while crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the ship sank during a storm and all aboard were drowned.  So Anna became a widow for the third time.

It was eight years before Harod died that Mary, Joseph and Jesus could return from Alexandria in Egypt. Jesus stayed with his grandmother Anna and mother Mary in Jerusalem.  During this time of about five years, Anna was able to teach Jesus many things about the soul and life.

Cultivate Tyaga and Achieve Yoga - Central Message of Jesus

Then after his bar mitzvah (the initiation ceremony of a Jewish boy to observe religious precepts) at age 13, Jesus left his mother Mary and grandmother Anna and joined a camel train leaving for the orient and India.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba has confirmed that Jesus lived in India. In the book Conversations with Sai, Dr John Hislop documents the words of Bhagawan: “Jesus realized that he was Christ in his 25th year. For eight years following his 16th birthday he travelled in India, Tibet, Iran, and Russia. He was variously regarded as a beggar or as a sanyasi.”

Elaborating on the principle that we must emulate from Jesus, in His Christmas discourse in 2002, Bhagawan said,

“Spirituality does not mean simply doing bhajans and performing some acts of worship. Cultivate noble qualities. Always be helpful to others and earn a good name. Jesus earned such a good name by sacrificing his body on the cross. You also must be prepared for such a great sacrifice. If you give up tyaga (sacrifice) and indulge in bhoga (sensual pleasures), you will end up with roga (disease). In fact, tyaga is true yoga and bhoga is roga. Do not become a victim of roga. Develop tyaga and achieve yoga.”

Let us use this sacred celebration to increase our intensity for the birth and blossoming of Divine consciousness in our hearts. Let us too march from being a ‘messenger of God’ to becoming a ‘son of God’ and finally obliterating every bit of ourselves that separates us from the Divine.

Thank you and loving Sai Ram,
Team Radio Sai

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