Discovering Sathya Sai Baba
Craig & Jane are psychic mediums who show psychic readings on television and in person. This article is about their quest to find out the truth about the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba and gain insight into their lives and work as psychics.
I first heard the name of Sathya Sai Baba in 1973 when I was saving the money to travel overland to India with my friend Terry. ‘You must visit his ashram while you’re in India, urged a traveler ‘Incredible things are happening there.’ Unfortunately I couldn’t raise the money and abandoned my yearned for trip. I never spoke or heard the name again until soon after I met Jane in 1988 when her friend, Jim Chivers, gave us some light grey ash (vibhutti) and suggested that we eat a little. (In chapter 1 you read about how Jim Chivers lost his son.) He told us that the ash was considered holy by the Hindus and had been materialized by the Hindu god-man (Avatar) named Sai Baba.
It was soon after this that the dreams started to happen.
I had seen a photo of Sathya Sai Baba but knew nothing of his philosophy or the story of his remarkable life and miracles. The photo I saw was of a little man who wears a brilliant orange robe and has a mop of black curly hair like that of Jimi Hendrix. At the time of writing he’s 72 but in the photo I saw he would have been about 45. I couldn’t understand why I should start dreaming about him and why the dreams should be so remarkably vivid. These were the most amazing lucid dreams that I’d ever experienced.
My first dream was set in a garage where many cars were being fixed. Clad in his bright saffron orange robes, Sai Baba introduced himself as the chief mechanic and suggested that I come into his workshop and perhaps help a little too. He showed me how to repair car engines.
The dream made no sense.
A few weeks later Jane and I were invited to Jim Chiver’s retirement party and there we met some of his Indian friends who were devotees of Sai Baba. I was introduced to Babu, an elderly Indian man whose eyes sparkled and voice trembled when he spoke about his guru. I told him about the dream. ‘It is a tremendous blessing to have a dream about Swami,’ he said. ‘Swami is calling you. He often tells his followers that he is like a mechanic of the soul and will call those that need his guidance into his workshop. When Swami comes to you in a dream it is not like a dream. It is real.’
Babu told me how a few years ago he was completely paralysed. The doctors had said that his condition was incurable and that he would stay like this for the rest of his life. He would never walk again. Babu prayed to his guru. Day and night he prayed. ‘Then one night I saw an orange shimmer in my room,’ says Babu. ‘I looked again and was overjoyed to see Sai Baba appear in my room as real as you are now sat before me.’
That night the spiritual form touched Babu’s feet and by the morning he could move his feet and toes. The next evening he saw Sai Baba again and the vision touched his waist. By the morning he could sit up unaided. On the third night Sai Baba touched Babu on the head and he could walk unaided. The doctors were amazed at Babu’s spontaneous remission. Everyone I spoke to confirmed that he had been paralyzed and had recovered. And perhaps the greatest testimony to truth was the great tears that rolled down this man’s face as he told his story. I was certain that Babu was telling the truth.
Although I’d read very little about Sai Baba the dreams kept happening and Jane started having dreams too. ‘I saw Sai Baba dressed in blue’ Jane told me. ‘He asked me to sit beside him and that I was to begin spiritual healing.’ He came to us both in our dreams many times and we were each shown remarkable things and given spiritual instruction that greatly helped us with our mediumistic work. I decided to find out more about Sai Baba.
Who is Sathya Sai Baba?
Sathya Sai Baba was born in Puttaparthi, a remote village in southern India, on 23rd November 1926. His parents named the baby Sathyanarayana Raju of the Kshatriya caste. The villagers tell of signs occurring shortly before his birth such as musical instruments playing by themselves and soon after his birth a deadly cobra snake was found in his crib. Remarkably it had not harmed the baby. This event, and many others, were taken as auguries that a very special person had been born. The cobra is the symbol of Shiva of Hinduism’s holy trinity.
One version of the story goes that at the age of 13 the young Sathya was bitten by a scorpion and after a day and night of normality fell into a coma that lasted 24 hours. When he awoke he started quoting long passages of Sanskrit poetry and philosophy that were far beyond the scope of his limited schooling. His frightened parents took him to an exorcist who shaved his head and cut multiple deep crosses into his skull bidding the demons to leave the child. The exorcist also poured caustic material into the wounds and into the boy’s eyes. Finally, Sathyanarayana’s parents could not stand to see their son suffer any more and ordered the exorcist to stop.
In May 1940 at the age of 14 the young Sathya was seen by his father materializing candy and fruit out of the air and many of the crowd that had gathered around the boy were falling to the ground and calling him an incarnation of God. His father became angry at this charade. As the father approached, ready to give the boy a beating he heard his son announce, ‘I am Sai Baba. I belong to Apastamba Sūtra, (the school of sage Apastambha) and am of the spiritual lineage of Bharadwaja. I am Sai Baba. I have come to ward off all your troubles. Keep your house clean and pure.’
Another source quotes him as also saying ‘My mission in this earthly sojourn shall be to lead man along the path of Dharma (righteousness) back to my feet. I have come to re-establish the Vedic way of life, to reinstate the supremacy of the spirit over matter, and to lead man back to the life of the spirit.’
He said also that he is the reincarnation of the holy man named Sai Baba of Shirdi who had died eight years before Sathya Sai Baba’s birth. Sathya Sai Baba refers to Shridi as ‘My previous body’. None of the villagers of Puttaparthi had heard of this person. Sai Baba of Shirdi who was born a hindu but lived with a Moslem family. On his head he wore a piece of cloth called a Kani. Like today’s Sai Baba he could do miracles and before his death had predicted where and when he would be reborn in eight years time. These details corresponded exactly to the time and place of Sai Baba’s birth as recorded by Kaka Dikshit in 1918. Many of Sai Baba’s first devotes were followers of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Sai Baba was even able to prove his spiritual lineage by recounting events and the details of private conversations spoken during his previous incarnation. He tells us that he will need a third incarnation to complete his work as Prema Sai. He claims to be an Avatar which broadly means the descent of the Divine principle into the human state. In other words Sai Baba is the formless God taking form.
If Sai Baba’s claim is true, the implication is that he is not just tapping into the source of knowledge, but that he is all knowledge. “My power is immeasurable, my truth inexplicable, unfathomable. I am beyond the reach of the most intensive inquiry and the most meticulous measurement. There is nothing I do not see, nowhere I do not know the way, no problem I cannot solve. My sufficiency is unconditional. I AM the Totality. All of it.”
God in human form?
My reaction to statements such as this was that it is a preposterous proposal. How can an infinite God take form? For example, it has always irritated me how Christians say that you can’t believe in God unless you also believe in Jesus Christ. ‘Then give me Hell with the company of Socrates, Gandhi and Loa Tzu,’ I love to tell these blinker believers. God is an infinite state that exists both within us and without us, people such as Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and so on are, in the words of a Zen poet, ‘the finger that points at the moon, but not the moon itself.’ Nobody, I believed, should stand in the way of direct experience of God- not even Jesus or Sai Baba.
A few months after Sathya Sai Baba’s declaration a group of villagers pleaded with him that he show them a sign to confirm that he is who he claims to be. To the surprise of all assembled he immediately threw a bunch of jasmine flowers onto the ground. In the local Telugu script the petals clearly spelled out the words ‘Sai Baba’.
Miracles such as these have happened, and still happen, around Sai Baba ever since he began his mission. He says that they are there to prove to his devotees that he is who he says he is. He calls them his ‘visiting cards’. He manifests material objects, sacred ash (vibhuti), has changed an object from one object to another simply by blowing on it and many many more instances and before thousands of people. ‘They are neither magical tricks nor Siddhic powers,’ says Sai Baba. ‘These can come to everybody with the proper discipline and yoga exercises, but my powers to protect, heal and save people and materialize objects originate in God, and can be used only by an Avatar. They are in no way designed, disciplined or developed, but flow from Cosmic Power itself.’
At the same interview he was also asked if his powers come from the spirit world which in the past have manifested apports and materialization through mediums and yogis. “There is no need for me to command invisible spirits since my divine will materializes the objects. I am everything, everywhere, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent; and so whatever I will instantly happens. Like the qualities of truth, love and peace, these are things that generate the Atmic or Cosmic forces behind the universe.” As a child he had announced that till the age of 16 he would be mostly engaged in sportive pursuits, and that from then on until the age of 32, he would be drawing people to him with ‘Mahimas’,or miracles. He says that without this display of power, ‘no one can gauge even a fraction of my glory.’
Many well-respected authors have investigated the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba for decades. There is not enough space here to cover their stories and I do not want to repeat information that you can read elsewhere in detail. If you’d like to find out a little more I suggest you read any of the books by the following authors: Howard Murphet, Dr John Hislop, Dr Samuel Sandweiss or the catholic priest Don Mario Mazzoleni.
Some of the reports that you will read about Sai Baba’s miracles are mind-boggling. He has supposedly raised the dead, multiplied food as Christ did with the bread and fishes, materialized valuable objects out of the air and turned water into petrol when the car ran out of fuel. There are stories of him materializing sweets directly into people’s mouths, appearing in two or more places at the same time and projecting a photograph of Christ onto the film in someone’s camera. His devotees have witnessed paranormal and psychic phenomena for which no common-sense explanation is possible. With a wave of his hand he can materialize sweets, images, idols, flowers, fruits, rosaries and crucifixes. So many, so well attested and so extraordinary are these accounts that even the most die-hard skeptics find these ‘miracles’ hard to explain away.
Jane and I kept having the dreams about Sai Baba. Eventually I felt compelled to write about him in my books and newspaper columns. I mentioned him in The Scottish Daily Record, The Weekly News, The Portsmouth News and Bristol’s Western Daily Press. In addition, I posted one of the articles on my Internet website (http://psychics.co.uk) and started to receive some very interesting telephone calls and letters.
Getting Proof Part 1
I did not consider myself a devotee, but nonetheless had a great respect for the wisdom of his teachings and needed more proof. As this article is now a little long I have moved this part to the link here.
More Proof Part 2
I also received a number of interesting emails to my web site. I have moved these to a separate page here.
Jane, our daughter Danielle (aged 8) and myself were to experience this first hand. One of my readers telephoned me and asked if I’d like to visit a house in London where vibhutti ash was materializing all the time. I was told that it regularly appeared on photographs of Sai Baba. He could make an appointment for us to visit and witness this for ourselves.
The little house in Kingsbury, London, was nothing special to look at. It was a typical suburban house set in an ordinary area of the capital. It would have been hard to deliberately choose a more unremarkable setting for a miracle to happen.
We were greeted by Bhasker Joshi and his wife, Hema, who welcomed us into their home and lead us into their living room. The whole house was filled with the subtle jasmine scented perfume of the vibhutti ash which covered the many photographs that hung around the room. For a few moments we stood in silence looking at the surreal scene. ‘The writing, which is a little hard to read under the ash, says “Love Swami”. It appeared by itself and the cross of vibhutti on this picture appeared on Good Friday.’ said Bhasker. ‘The photos were completely covered, but we removed the area around Swami’s face. If we clear a section of the pictures the vibhutti reforms.’
I was reminded of Sai Baba’s words: ‘My shakti, my power, my mystery can never be understood, whosoever may try, for however long a period, by whatever means.’ Once we had time to absorb the wonderful atmosphere of this place we sat down with Mr and Mrs Joshi and they told us their remarkable story.
‘I am of Brahmin caste, so was brought up in the ways of the Hindu religion,’ began Bhasker. ‘But nothing prepared me for the marvellous experiences I was to have on discovering Sai Baba when I was in Uganda in 1968. This was the only time Swami has left India, but I sat with about 2,000 people to get sight of him. This is called Darshan which means ‘sight of the divine’. Sai Baba points his finger at me. “Go inside” my friend Dr Patel urged me. “He wants to see you in the interview room!”
‘Once I entered the room I touched Swami’s feet as is Hindu custom. Sai Baba smiled at me the waved his hand and materialised a photograph of himself.’ Mr Basker passed round the crumpled black and white photograph. ‘I have a knack of losing things but this photograph has been upon my person everyday since the interview. He knew everything about my life and told me how to resolve many personal problems which no-one except myself and God knew about. To my wife, Hema, he turned and said, “I am in this house.”
”In 1994 at Sai Baba’s 69th birthday celebrations in Harrow, London we met Stephen Turoff who is a famous trance healer and now a Sai Baba devotee. His entranced eyes looked at Hema “I will see you tonight” he said. But it wasn’t Stephen’s voice, we all distinctly heard the soft tones of Baba.’
Hema excitedly takes up the story: ‘The next night I awoke in the middle of the night and saw Sai Baba stood in our bedroom! He walked towards me and I felt him touch my forehead. “Your problems are over, I am in your house now” he said then disappeared. In the morning we discovered that vibhutti had materialized in the prayer room, on the pictures of our Hindu deities and on photographs of Sai Baba.’
‘The phenomena have continued ever since,’ says Basker. ‘And we are not the only people to experience this phenomena in our home. ‘Nearby at Queensbury Mr Vadagama has had vibbhuti materialize in the machines at his factory. He tells us that one day he had an 8 ton machine to move over a bank holiday, but was let down at the last-minute. If the machine wasn’t moved immediately, he would lose a great deal of money as the tenant was to move in the next day. Like a good Hindu he prayed in his heart for help.
‘A slim man in oily jeans walked into the warehouse. He had a lorry parked outside. “You want to move the machine?” he said nonchalantly. Mr Vadagama asked the man if he could help and how much would it cost. He gave the man £75 which he counted slowly with his oily hands. Mr Vadagama turned his back for a few seconds to discover that the man had gone and to his utter bafflement saw that the eight ton machine was all neatly dismantled and stacked on the truck.
‘Two years later Mr Vadagama went to Puttaparthi and was seated among other devotees for Darshan. Sai Baba walked up to him. “Is your machine all right?” asked swami with a broad smile across his face. “You gave me £75 didn’t you? I put it back in the machine. Go and check” Immediately afterwards Mr Vadagama telephoned his daughter who was minding the business back in London. He told him where Sai Baba had said the money was and his daughter went to check. “It’s all there and has oily finger prints all over it,” came the excited reply ‘.
As far as I can tell Mr and Mrs Joshi are sincere people. They went on to tell me how the vibhutti ash will fill various sweet jars in the room upstairs set up as Baba’s own room. Also how amrith will pour from the pictures at auspicious times. Even food that is put before their temple is eaten. My credibility was beginning to strain. It could, of course, all be a well-meant hoax. Inwardly I asked Sai Baba for a tangible sign to prove that this was all true. Moments later a woman who had arrived at the same time as us opened the prayer letter that she had placed on the altar To her astonishment the pages inside were covered in a light sprinkling of vibhutti ash.
Sathya Sai Baba Miracles and UFOs
I also had an interesting email correspondence with Bon Giovanni, an American who has a website dedicated to Sai Baba. He spotted my articles on my website and wrote to me to correct a few names that I had misspelled. As Bon Giovanni had clearly had personal experience of Sai Baba’s miracles I asked him to clear up a problem I had. Reading the many books about Swami, I’d noticed that Sai Baba had contradicted himself. For example to one devotee he said that spiritual healing was good and to another that it was bad. He has also been asked if there is life on other planets and if there are really UFOs. Again he appears to offer us a contradiction.
Here’s a small part of the explanation offered by Don Giovanni:
‘Swami had taken a group of students and two elders out to a forest reserve, wild animals you know, and all had sat down for food, seated in a horseshoe with Baba at the center of the group. A student, keen on such things, then asked Swami why he had told differing accounts to people about UFO’s, since he really wanted to know if they were, or were not, real. Swami looked at the young man and started to answer, but at that moment in the field behind him, in broad daylight, a UFO appeared and just hovered there in the sky above the group. Not even looking back behind him, Baba calmly said, `UFO’s are just imagination’, and the craft vanished.
‘Since that is important for you, as you say, then perhaps as you find `contradictions’ in what Swami says, I suggest you check very, very, very carefully why it bothers you, and see what happens. “Could be.” I truly no longer harbor such thoughts, and so cannot answer you. You see, Swami does extraordinary things. Sometimes he does such miracles that the mind simply caves in, and at other times he does such clumsy sleight of hand tricks that you think that he must think you are a fool if he expects you to fall for it. Why does he do that? Why does he contradict himself? Why is he so damnably undefinable? My hunch is that he does whatever is right to further the insight of the person present before him, no matter if that somehow makes the person think of him as a fraud or a god. He really does not care what one thinks of him, you see. At least that is my experience. Just when I think I have Swami pegged, he does something outside my comprehension. When doubt overwhelms me, I later discover why I have learned just as much from that process as when wisdom overwhelms me.
‘No doubt you are wondering what I mean about palming objects. Swami is seated in private with four or five of us, and opens his empty right hand, palm up. He says, `see it is coming’ and in a few seconds, just ABOVE his palm, a golden ring appears in mid-air, then falls into his hand. He passes it around. The metal is warm to the touch. Swami tells a story about how changing the heart of man into gold is not his job, but ours, and it takes effort, heat. At that moment a student enters to deliver a message. Swami then very clumsily palms the very ring he had just materialised and we all see him palming it, but he then waves his hand as if creating an object, and no surprise “produces” the gold ring, which he gives the student. I could almost feel the student’s thoughts “but, but, but you palmed that!” .We all knew the student had not seen it appear in mid-air, and I for one thought surely the boy was now filled with doubts about Swami. `Why he just palms things!
‘Why does he do such things? FIND OUT! Sorry to be so Zen, but that is my experience: one must find out for oneself. After you have seen him and come to know him directly, perhaps your questions about contradictions will be satisfied.’
Bon Giovanni had put his finger on something that I was beginning to understand. The experience of Sai Baba is unique to every person. Many people may witness a miracle, but it will mean something completely different to everyone who witnesses it. The reality of Sai Baba’s miracles was hammered home to me soon after the email during a series of psychic consultations I was doing at someone’s home in Portsmouth.
A somewhat burly gentleman sat down for his reading and, to my surprise, I noticed that he was wearing a platinum bracelet with an Indian Om symbol on it. It seemed completely out of place on such a big man who I found out later was a builder. I asked him if the bracelet was from Sai Baba and he told me his wonderful story. ‘ I burst into tears when Sai Baba materialised the bracelet for me. He was as close to me as you are now,” he said. “There was no way it could have been fraud. Swami pointed upward with his finger and I could see a circle of sparkling light swirling above it. Then, to my utter astonishment, I saw the circle of light form into this bracelet hovering in the air six inches above his index finger. Sai Baba then opened his hand and the bracelet dropped into it.”
Again, I couldn’t help but notice that this big man had tears in the corner of his eyes as he spoke.
Sai Baba Healing Miracles
My favorite person who sent me his stories was Bhupendra Desai, a retired school master who now runs a newsagent’s shop in Birmingham and spends all of his spare time painting pictures of Sai Baba. His voice quivers with joy as he tells his story:
‘Recently I was talking to John, a customer at my newspaper shop, about the miracles of Sai Baba and I felt so sorry for him that I gave the man some vibhuti ash. Sometime ago he had damaged his neck and the doctors said that there was nothing more they could do for him. He had over the years visited many specialists and private doctors.
‘I gave him 4 packets of vibhuti and a photograph of Sai Baba. The vibhuti I gave him had been given to me by Dr D Gadhia who is a very old devotee who has helped teach Baba’s teachings about love, truth, right conduct, non-violence and peace. This vibhuti was, in fact, extracted from his own body coming out of his hands and from his legs particularly at night. This phenomena lasted for three months and everyday devotees from all over the UK were going to his home in Leicester to see him and would see vibhuti everywhere- even in his bed sheets.
‘I told him to keep these packets under his pillow and under his bed sheet. I also told him to pray to his own chosen God incarnation. I believe he prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
‘John also told me how during the healing process the photo of Sai Baba would move from room to room, yet there were no children or pets in the house that could have done this, when his back was turned. This is just one example of healing that Baba can do.
Within a week John could turn his neck 45 degrees. In two weeks he was fully cured and could hold his head straight without any pain. He returned to my shop to thank me “It has nothing to do with me,” I said. “It is Baba who has blessed you.”
Bhupendra Desai sent me many more incredible stories which I’m afraid will have to wait for another book. His ‘Sai Stories’ and the many others that I was told were intriguing me more and more. Devotees seemed to be crawling out of the woodwork to tell me their stories. And the dreams kept happening. My aunt Marion, my father, my sister and even our daughter Danielle dreamed of Sai Baba. I couldn’t put it off any longer.
(UPDATE NOTE: I spoke to Bhupendra Desai by phone when he was on his death-bed. He was in tears joy and spoke with great rapture and joy telling me in an ecstatic and quivering voice that Sai Baba was in the room with him. “We must never fear death,” he said.
Visiting Sai Baba in India
I had to go to India to see for myself.
But it was more than curiosity that was calling me. The Spiritualist side of me could easily accept the phenomenon of materialization which had already been proved many times in the séance rooms. More importantly, Sai Baba had somehow connected with me on a very deep level of my being. I was still aware of the spirit world and of my guiding spirits but now there was another voice within me, a voice that even the angels bowed down too. I was beginning to believe that Sai Baba really was what he claimed. He is omnipresent.
So why go to India? I considered my reasons and motives carefully and once I’d siphoned off all the junk there remained two key issues that I felt I should address. Firstly, the journey would be spiritually good for Jane and myself and we’d find out once and for all if Sai Baba is really what he says he is. Furthermore a pilgrimage to India would help us to progress spiritually and hopefully turn us into better people with a clearer understanding of the purpose of life. Finally, I needed to know what Sai Baba had to say about the work that people like Jane and myself do. Is it right to communicate with the Afterlife? How best should we use our psychic powers? And does reincarnation entail the survival of the individuality? As a Spiritualist I have always believed that the human personality including its memories and character survives bodily death. Perhaps Sai Baba could help to unify the many aspects of my work which you have read about here. I made a few phone calls and booked to join a small group of four female devotees who would be travelling to the ashram in early November.
I will never forget the look of horror on Jane’s face as we walked through the airport in Bangalore. Even the swarms of mosquitoes that feasted on our pink flesh appeared to have to fight their way through passport control and then only to have countless forms signed and stamped in triplicate by illiterate clerks. Fortunately I found a trolley that wasn’t being slept on and we forced our way to the booked taxi as God knows how many ‘porters’ grabbed our luggage. A crowd of ‘volunteers’ also helped bump-start the rusting Morris Oxford with one hand twisted awkwardly through the broken window. ‘Tip Auntie! Auntie, Auntie tip!’ we could hear the voices outside call to Jane. The cab coughed black smoke and leapt into life as if relieved to escape from the clamoring crowd and once again bounce its way down the pot-holed streets like a uncontrolled Kango hammer. Brakes, steering, suspension and windscreen wipers are considered optional accessories in the Bangalore taxi services.
We spent the night in a hotel that was as exquisite as my garage and owned by a doppelgänger of Mr Bean. (He even picked his nose in the same way) After an extensive shopping trip around the run down shoe shops of Bangalore with my five women companions, now satiated by shopping we boarded the taxi again and headed off into the wilds of the countryside. As we passed a sneering statue of Queen Victoria still overseeing her ‘garden city’ I felt a little guilty at pressurizing Jane to make this journey. But she entered the spirit of things and her day to day worries about new carpets, decorating and DIY now seemed so far away. More immediate was the need to know whether we would survive the taxi journey as our scrap car belted at full throttle down the rugged roads to the village of Puttaparthi, or if out luggage would stay on the roof rack. As the car swerved to avoid children, squeezed between juggernauts and sped at oncoming traffic, I learnt the spiritual lesson of how to pray with all my heart.
‘We’re all likely to go through a cleansing process on arrival,’ said Carole Alderman, our experienced group leader. ‘It tends to happen to most people at first. Don’t ask me why, but you may experience some negative feelings.’
I certainly didn’t expect any problems between anyone in our little group. Jane and I were in good spirits, Carole was a bit bossy, but also a good organizer. Priya was a trainee doctor and radiated compassion. Linda was very easy-going and Annie a textile designer was helpful and cheery. We were a smashing crowd. And, of course, I was so spiritually advanced that I wouldn’t meet any problems. So what could Carole possibly mean by saying this?
Even though we were all nearly dropping dead with jet lag and tiredness, Carole urged us to quickly clean and tidy our rooms so that we could catch the afternoon Darshan. This is held in the mandir which is a magnificent open sided temple with wonderful pink, blue and yellow carvings intertwined in its pillars, domes and structure. Darshan is a Sanskrit word that means ‘The sight of a holy being’. According to the Hindus, just to have sight of a personage with the spiritual size of Sai Baba brings tremendous blessing and triggers a spiritual transformation within the beholder. I was soon to find out what this meant.
As I sat in the lines waiting to be lead into the Mandir to view Sai Baba I listened to the crows squawking overhead and thought about the dream that I had just before leaving England. I’d dreamed of arriving at the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram by coach and of being immediately called in to see Sai Baba for a private consultation. Was this wishful fulfillment or was I going to be called here and now?
In addition, Carole was so convinced that we would have an interview that she drummed into me that I must ask for an interview if I get the opportunity. It was particularly important that I remembered this as Sai Baba usually called groups from the men’s side. It was likely that Sai Baba would ask ‘How many?’ and I must always make sure that everyone in our group was present. ‘Six, six, six, don’t forget we are six Craig’, said Carole. ‘On one occasion Swami asked me the number in my group and I forgot one was ill. I told him the incorrect number and he immediately reprimanded me for my inaccuracy.’
The Darsha lines are called by drawing lots. I was sat close to the front of one row and my row was called first. I was led by Sai Baba’s volunteers (Sevadals) to the very front of the area where Sai Baba would walk. We sat for about an hour as everyone else was crammed into the huge building. Then a great hush fell over the crowd and even the birds and monkeys stopped chattering as a small orange form appeared at the far side of the Mandir where the rest of my group and the other women sat. I could see Sai Baba floating like an orange flower on a sea of silence. Things were happening inside my head that I couldn’t begin to explain. All my life I had spoken out against gurus yet here I was sat basking in awe at this person. There were even tears in my eyes. So this is what they meant by Darshan.
Throughout my life I have been able to clearly see the human aura. As I looked at the little figure in the distance I could see great waves of light pouring from him in every colour imaginable. He seemed to be showering us with light and everyone present could feel it. I saw him speak to a few women on the other side who got up and walked to behind the pillars near the entrance to the inner sanctuary. Other people got up when told to, but I couldn’t see if Jane or our group had been called.
Eventually he walked to the area where I was sitting on the floor. He was stood right in front of me and materialized vibhutti ash from his fingers and into the hands of devotees nearby. I was so close that could see exactly what was happening just in front of me. The ash was appearing a few inches away from his fingers. ‘My God this is really happening!’ Then something happened inside me that is impossible to explain. It was as if something cracked. I could even hear it snap like a silent explosion within. I felt overwhelmed.
Sai Baba walked on stopping now and again to talk to others then finally completing his circuit and joining the people who had gathered behind the pillar. The instant he was out of sight most of the crowd rose to their feet and thronged towards the exits. As I turned to leave one of the Sevadals came up to me and touched my scarf that Carol had given to me to mark out our group. All around there were people wearing scarves from every country of the world. Apparently if one member of a group is called in to see Sai Baba then all the rest can follow.
‘UK? UK?’ said the sevadal urgently. ‘Yes UK,’ I replied puzzled why he should single me out. ‘Your group has been called. Quickly quickly follow me. Swami will see you, but you must hurry.’ I don’t think my heart has ever pounded so hard. Now at last I could ask all my questions. And goodness knows what else will happen. Another sevadal joined him and I was rushed towards the front. ‘No, No. Too late. Sorry you miss Swami. Very sorry.’
I walked slowly away from the Mandir and into the strange unfamiliar world of the ashram.
A Cosmic Test
This was the story of my life. My biggest grudge is that so often I’ve come inches away from success, then had the prize whisked away from me at the last minute. There are points in my life when I was nearly a famous artist, nearly a rich man, nearly had my TV show with Jane, nearly met Sai Baba in person. In addition I thought about how so many times people had greatly profited by plagiarising my ideas, or have stolen my opportunities by jumping on contacts that had worked hard to set up.
On the ashram time appears to stand still yet also seems so limited. It felt like an eternity that I wandered the ashram grounds contemplating the significance of what had happened. Yet in that short period, I resolved a major inner barrier to my personal happiness. In my Spiritualist work as a medium I had always talked about service and Sai Baba is quoted as saying that we should ‘give up the fruits of our actions’. So what if I didn’t get the rewards that I believed I deserved. These things are in God’s hands. The important thing is that I do my spiritual work and all work in the spirit of service and without thought of reward. Any benefits are just the footprints left in the changing sands of time.
Carole was right about the cleansing process we’d go through. Once I’d resolved my inner test, I started to feel relief and a growing pleasure with the thought that Jane and the girls had had an interview and I felt eager to know what wonderful things had happened. ‘How did it go?’ I asked once I’d found them. ‘Oh fine,’ said Priya, as if it was something that happened every day! ‘The interview, what happened in the interview?’ I continued. They all looked at me puzzled. ‘What interview?’ they said, almost in unison.
It transpired that there were two UK groups at the ashram and we had identical scarves.
Most people who go to see Sai Baba say that it’s the inner transformation that is more remarkable that any physical miracles that Sai Baba performs. Sai Baba gives each visitor an ‘inner view’ and just like the spirit guides that can communicate to us through our mind, so too does the powers of Sai Baba extend into this other dimension of existence. These ‘inner views’ can take place anywhere, without having to keep visiting the ashram. I so realized also that a personal interview was perhaps unnecessary. What happens in the ashram is a uniquely personal experience and completely subjective, yet relevant to the person. Everybody who goes discovers something completely different.
Our group leader, Carole Alderman, had other ideas. From the moment we left she was desperate for a personal interview. This was quite understandable because the last time she had come she was instructed by Sai Baba to write a course for the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Organisation. EVH as it is called is now an intricate part of the Indian Education system and has been introduced into schools throughout the world. The program has a multi-cultural and multi-faith approach. The system teaches that at the core of all religions lie the same fundamental values by which we should govern our lives. These are right conduct, peace, truth, love and non-violence which are fundamental in the make-up of the human personality.
Before we’d left Carole let me have a look at part of the vast amount of work she had done. On an earlier visit to the ashram two years before in 1996 Sai Baba had called her to an interview to approve the first stage. ‘When he had finished looking through the books he said, “Very happy. Very happy. Good girl,”‘ says Carole, ‘ During the interview he also turned to me and said “Where did you get that necklace?”
“You gave it to me, swami,” I replied.
“Yes,” he smiled. “I gave it to you last time.”
‘The gold necklace he was teasing me about was one he had materialised in an interview in November 1995. I had shown him the first book I had written from which the current books have been born. He had asked if I would promote the Programme in the UK and I had thought, “But it will be difficult. I will need your help, Swami”. Before the thought had even finished, he had waved his hand and produced a necklace of 101 golden beads with little symbols on them. He then put it over my head and told me never to take it off. And I never have. It is a constant reminder of his presence day and night, reminding me, among other things, that he is the doer and I am merely the instrument. I have had so much evidence of this over the last two years that I know I have nothing to worry about, or plan. It all happens as he wills.’
Many famous people have visited Sai Baba and come away from the experience feeling that they were not in the presence of an ordinary human being. For example Sarah Fergison, the Duchess of York, visited the ashram and met Sai Baba on 30th January 1997. Although sneered at by the press as a ‘Madam Vasso experience in a spiritual Disneyland’ I discovered that Fergie had a deeply moving spiritual experience. She was granted a private interview and asked Sai Baba to materialize her a cross and chain. Without hesitation Sai Baba waved his hand and materialized exactly what she asked for. Apparently Fergie was deeply shaken and spiritually inspired by the meeting. A number of devotees have told me that celebrity visitors include Michael Jackson and Hillary Clinton but I have not been able to fully substantiate this. In addition it was widely rumored that Princess Diana had visited Sai Baba while she was at Bangalore. She sent out a report to the press saying that she wouldn’t be attending her functions due to a throat infection. During this time I am told that she sneaked into the ashram.
Shortly after our journey to the ashram Sarah Miles, the daughter of actor Sir John Miles, visited the ashram for Christmas. She said of her experience: ‘Although I never got near him all the time I was in Puttaparthi, I received many real Christmas presents from Sai Baba, none of them costing a penny and all of them changing my life.
‘Sai Baba is not well served by talk – experiencing him is all. And while I may never go to Puttaparthi again, nor ever understand where the love comes from out there, I do know that that love is truly blinding. How blesses those temple birds are, to be forever surrounded by it.’
We too never received a personal interview, but I realized that this was not important. It’s what happens inside you that counts. Nonetheless we met many people whose lives had been changed, people who’d been healed and others who had been graced with materialized objects and jewellery. Carole Alderman stayed on for a couple of months after we left. I dare not think how desperate she was by this time for an interview. She’d been urging us to take on all sorts of austerities to win Sai Baba’s favour. It didn’t work. ‘Perhaps we should all wear stones in our shoes?’ I joked. For a moment her face betrayed that she was taking me seriously. After we left Carole’s husband joined her.
Then at the very last Darshan before Carole had to leave for her flight Sai Baba came and took her letter. He moved on, then stopped and glanced at her. ‘Interview Swami’ stuttered Carole
‘How many?’ replied Sai Baba, pretending not to know.
‘TWO!’ he teased.
‘Yes, husband Swami.’
‘Go’ Sai Baba replied gently. Almost before he had moved on, Carole had picked up her cushion and was running up the aisle to the veranda, tears streaming down her face.
In the interview Sai Baba kept ‘accidentally, treading on Carole’s toes and spent most of the interview giving all his attention to her husband Bob. (Sai Baba showed his approval of the books by stroking them fondly for 10 to 15 minutes after he looked through them in an earlier interview with Joan Brake who had taken them for her.)
Right up to the last minute Sai Baba was playing his game. Of course he knew how desperate Carole was for an interview. He’d known this all along. As Carole went to go he said ‘Yesterday you were thinking Swami doesn’t take my letters. He doesn’t look at me, or give me an interview. What can I do? But I am with you always, beside you, above you, around you. I bless. I bless!’
Carol had intended to tell Sai Baba that they were introducing the ‘Education in Human Values’ program into many UK schools and would not need a school. But as soon as she thought the words and began to speak Sai Baba interrupted her saying ‘Sathya Sai School. Yes, yes, yes. I bless. I bless.’ The huge task that Sai Baba nonchalantly requested is gradually taking shape but that’s another amazing story….
They say that nobody goes away from the presence of Sai Baba disappointed. I certainly felt inspired and uplifted by the experience and many, many questions had been answered. But as our time to leave approached, I felt a little sad that I hadn’t been able to ask Sai Baba directly about the afterlife and the survival of the human personality after death. Just before we left a man who I’d not seen before made a casual remark. ‘The answer to your questions about the afterlife are to be found in the books by Peggy Mason,’ said the stranger. ‘She has the answer’. I of course wondered how he had known my question and we were separated by the crowd before I could ask him.
When we returned to home we were greeted by our usual mountain of letters. Among them was a package from Peggy Mason
I’d read one of her book in the past and posted a letter to her sometime ago, but nonetheless it seemed very odd that I should arrive so perfectly on cue. She enclosed all the information she had about Sai Baba and the afterlife. “Of course reincarnation entails the survival of the individuality,’ writes Peggy. ”One of my favorite quotes of Baba’s: “The good fortune that has brought you face to face with me is something for which you must thank your merit won through previous lives.”
‘Baba knew, of course, that for many years my late husband (Ron Lang) and I had the most gifted medium living in our staff cottage when we had a big place near Crowborough. For 14 years I wrote monthly articles for the Spiritualist magazine ‘Two Worlds’ when Maurice Barbanell was editor. As many people are so ignorant about mediumship and the continuation of the person after leaving the physical body, we made a point of asking Baba, in private interview, for the sake of other people, “Is mediumship, to communicate with those in the next sphere of life, provided the medium is honest and a pure channel wrong?’
‘Baba replied at once: “No, not at all.”‘
Peggy Mason included a wealth of material, none of which conflicts with what I’ve tried to communicate through this book. The full details will have to wait for another book. Peggy went on to explain that she was still in touch with her husband via an excellent trance medium (Paul Bura). She concludes by saying: ‘My husband Ron is of course longing for me to join him! He has it all ready, and has a lovely little house by a lake, and our beloved sheepdog, Tippy, with him and my cat, Peter (And adds: “And you don’t have to feed them!) He works with a group of spirits helping those who go over, “without a clue, wondering what on earth has happened to them'” as he puts it.
‘When I asked him what it was like to be received by Baba when he passed over, he said, “Like being embraced by the Universe”. He also says he and Baba will come for me. My health is running down, plus angina, etc. so I don’t expect to be here beyond next Summer….’
A few weeks later I read in Psychic News that Peggy Mason had died.
References and Works Cited
- The Psychic Casebook – Craig Hamilton-Parker Blandford Press ISBN 0-7137-2755-1 (This article is an extract from my book)
- You can read more about our work as psychic mediums here (Includes examples of psychic read on television and mediums working on the stage.
- Read about my next Journey to India
- The official site for the Sathya Sai Baba Organization
- The Secret Swami Allegations – unfounded allegations of misconduct exposed.