How was Sai Baba different, maybe even unique?
As a contrast, like many people, when I teach a public workshop or lead a group, I am very conscious of my teachers. I rely on their knowledge and wisdom. They provide inspiration and act as role models. I would be able to offer only a fraction of what I do without my teachers.
So much to be grateful for. I have had teachers who helped me to gain a degree in Veterinary Science, and a Masters in Counselling. I have attended many, many workshops and conferences. I have learnt vast amounts from books and from people who attended events where I was in the role of leader or teacher.
And most of my teachers have the same background. There is a long lineage of teachers that my own Veterinary teachers drew upon. The teachers of their teachers, and so on back into time. A long lineage of teachers in the counselling fields I studied. In the spiritual world, lineage gives authenticity and confidence and inspiration to teacher and student alike.
In Christianity there is the long lineage back to Christ. In Buddhism there is an authentic and unbroken lineage that can be traced back 2500 years to the days and the teachings of the Buddha.
So why was Sai Baba different?
He had no teachers.
At 13 he announced himself as a teacher. He began to teach from traditional texts, even obscure ones with clarity and confidence. By the time he died at 84, he had taught on a vast array of subjects. No one ever saw him read, or study, or prepare. He just knew it all. He was self-realised.
Revered across India and by millions of followers around the world, Sai Baba was regarded by many to be an avatar. No, not like in the movie! A spiritual avatar is regarded as being a divine incarnation – a God in human form.
When I first traveled to India and met him in the hilly tea country out of Bangalore, I was excited but somewhat skeptically reserved. If there was an avatar on Earth, what a pity to miss him. But what if he was some sort of imposter?
There would seem to be several reasons to visit a senior Holy man:
1. To learn and progress on the spiritual path.
2. To benefit directly from being in their presence and to seek blessings.
3. To pay respect.
4. To seek a miracle!
In that first meeting Sai Baba catalysed healing for me at a profound level. He said “ You are already healed, don’t worry.” At that time, I was doing what I needed to do to overcome the difficult cancer I faced. However, my doubts, fuelled by scientific training and concerns around my capacity to recover using innovative means, were a real obstacle.
Sai Baba's presence, his words, his assurance, changed this. In my view, deep healing often requires a change in our state of mind, and Sai Baba effected this for me where nothing, or no-one else, had been able to. It was like an inner miracle, even though it was understandable.
Curiously, the outward miracles he has been famous for seemed natural and normal when I first saw them. On numerous occasions and from very close range, I witnessed him manifesting quite large objects and vibhutti, a sacred ash. As an avatar, why would he not do this? And yes, in my opinion he was an avatar.
Like all great beings Sai Baba had a small minority of detractors. (Christ’s life did not exactly end well – put to death on the cross). In my experience, however, he embodied love. He taught love. He represented love. He urged everyone to be more loving. That was the essence of his message.
You may be interested to know that each of the first 4 times I went to his ashram, I tried to leave a donation, but could not find out how to do it. In all my visits, no one ever mentioned money, let alone asked for it. Meals were a few cents (yes cents not dollars), accommodation was little more, and yet he brought together many huge projects.
If “judge them by their works” is the standard, Sai Baba truly was extraordinary. Not only did he greet and interact with thousands of people each and every day, he built schools and hospitals. He facilitated major engineering projects and in his followers there were major benefits to be observed. So many good people. Good hearted. Committed to helping others and being of service.
Isaac Tigret, the founder of the Hard Rock cafes is a committed devotee. Above every one of his cafes, (sold years ago and $35 million of the proceeds given to fund an Indian, Sai Baba super hospital), is one is Sai Baba’s main mottos, “Love all, serve all”.
In the one personal interview I had with him, Sai Baba also addressed a young newly married couple. Eagerly, and with great tenderness they entreated him to guide them in their marriage and in their lives.
He replied, “Swami is in front of you and behind you. He is above you and below you. He is in you. It is like you are a fish and Swami is the water in which you move and breath. I am with you always.”
If as I experienced, Sai Baba embodied the divine principle of love, this all makes sense.
Sai Baba – Man of Miracles; Howard Murphett
The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist; Sandweiss
The Dragon’s Blessing; Guy Allenby (My biography with more details of my meetings with Sai Baba)
Sai Baba official website