From Cape to Kilanmarg 

The Ninth All-India Divine Life Convention held at Venkatagiri in 1957 was a landmark in the campaign of Bhagavan who presided over the deliberations and sounded the clarion call of spiritual regeneration. Swami Satchidananda, the Organizing Secretary of the Branches of the Divine Life Society, later confessed that when the news that Baba was to preside reached him at Thiruvannamali, he was taken aback, for on inquiry there, he had been told that Baba was versed only in magic and that He was a poor speaker at best. "I soon discovered that my informant was profoundly ignorant," said Swami Satchidananda.

On the opening day of the Convention, the town was filled to overflowing with delegates, visitors, and devotees, including a large number of renunciates from far away Rishikesh and places such as Rajahmundry, Kalahasti, and Madras. A gorgeous flower-bedecked palanquin was placed at the main gate of the Venkatagiri Palace for Baba to proceed into the theater where the Inaugural Session was to be held. When He came out and saw this symbol of pomp, He most politely refused the honor in spite of the entreaties of the Rajah, because, He said, "There are so many monks here that I would like to walk with them." It was indeed a distinguished galaxy of monks, including Sadananda, Satchidananda, Atmaswarupananda, and Srinivasananda.

Swami Satchidananda hoisted the flag of the Divine Life Society and Swami Sadananda, author of "Sanmarga Deepam," "Maha Sakti," and other books, including a commentary on Patanjali's "Yoga Darsana," inaugurated the Convention. Some misguided individuals had earlier distributed leaflets in which they had charged Baba with partiality to the rich and the aristocratic, little realizing that even while this was being done, Baba had refused the pageantry of a procession and was walking the very road upon which they were spreading their nefarious falsehoods. In fact, Swami Sadananda referred to this leaflet and made plain how absurd it was. He congratulated the delegates and organizers on their good luck in securing Sai Baba to guide them on the path of divine life.

In His keynote address Baba said the divine life was the inspiration, the birthright, the motive force, the be-all and end-all of everything in creation; from microcosm to the macrocosm. Divine life is the rain that falls from the clouds of truth, love, and non-injury. It comprises all acts done in pursuit of Reality. Baba says that the desire to attain Reality or the Divinity behind the illusiveness of material things is inherent and immanent in every individual as butter is in milk. Just as one churns milk to separate the butter, man must churn his mind with good deeds and good company. Between the eternal spirit and the evanescent world the mind of man oscillates; therefore it is the duty of societies such as Divine Life Society to fill the minds of its members with holiness, and help in removing the dross of passion and lust. For this transformation, everyone is a worthy candidate, and the taste of that bliss is the same for all. The Society, Baba said, should endeavor with humility and equal love for all to further this process of transformation for as many as possible. It should strive to wipe out the root cause of anxiety, sorrow, and ignorance.

The next morning when the Convention met at the theater, Baba said that Hindu religion could survive the series of onslaughts, cultural upheavals and foreign invasion only through the efforts of her spiritual leaders who stood watch over its treasures and re-established the creative principles of eternal truth in the hearts of the people. He said that He always wanted to light the lamp of love in every heart, and He advised everyone to preserve an atmosphere of reverence and love. Speaking on the three qualities of nature, Baba illustrated their character by a simple simile. Pointing to a kerosene lamp, He said that the glass chimney was the Satva guna, the tranquil quality; the soot inside was the Tamo guna, the quality of sloth; and the dust outside, Rajo guna, the quality of passion.

The next day at the special gathering of delegates, Baba appealed to them to cultivate single-minded devotion to their teacher, and to demonstrate in their lives the divine life to which they had dedicated themselves. When the meeting was later converted to a public session by the admission of an eager throng of visitors, Baba spoke for over an hour, exhorting all to lead lives of devotion and surrender. "What would you like to be in the hands of the Lord?" He asked. He Himself suggested the answer, "The flute." He wanted everyone to go straight without any crookedness, without any pride, ego, will, or idea of self; to inhale only the breath of God; to transmute that breath into melodious music.

Swami Sadananda spoke on "Communion with God." In reality he communed with Baba and spoke what He prompted him to say, he confessed. Then rose a great pundit, famed throughout Andhradesh for many Vedantic books. He spoke on the most abstruse problem in Indian Philosophy, "Who am I?" People say that the Advaitic, the non-dualistic teaching, makes men other-worldly and dry, but this scholar was poet enough to appreciate Baba's picturization of the flute on Krishna's lips. He related with pleasure Baba's ideals and quoted a few Sanskrit verses on Lord Krishna and the unique good fortune of that "flute." He began his discourses with a personal statement. "I came to Venkatagiri for this Convention primarily to meet Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for I had heard all kinds of versions of His greatness, and I was eager for the chance to test them. In short, I came to defy! And I am going back 'deified', made aware of my inner divinity. I apologize to Baba for my error." This is just another instance of the fog of misunderstanding disappearing before the warmth of Sai Baba's Presence.

Baba moved freely among the holy men and scholars and gave each a long interview before departing from Venkatagiri. Swami Satchidananda said, "As soon as I went in, Baba embraced me and said He was happy to see me. He then spoke of a rare mystic vision I had the good fortune to experience thirty-seven years ago and congratulated me on the steady pursuit of the ideal which culminated in that vision. But He chided me for squandering my time and energy on efforts toward collecting funds, meeting people, and discussing plans and institutions. When I attempted to justify my present activities as contributing ultimately to the welfare of the world, He laughed and asked, 'Have you not heard that good thoughts and waves of surcharged wisdom have a way of emanating from a great soul, and overcoming all obstacles, shaping and changing the thought currents of others?' He advised me to retire into solitude and resume my spiritual exploration. He assured me He would provide me succour and sustenance wherever I chose to be! This point of view had never been placed before me in such clear and authentic words, and I was very much touched by His Love and Mercy. I was surprised that He knew of an intimate secret experience of mine which dated some years previous to His birth, and I questioned Him about this. He answered me with the questions: 'Am I born? Do I die?'

It was indeed a unique experience for all - the interview, the diagnosis of their deepest doubts, the prescription of appropriate remedies, the assurance of continued Grace, the weighing of achievement in the balance of progress, and the revelation of Baba's Omniscience and Omnipresence. When Baba returned to Puttaparthi, He was joined by Swami Sadananda and Swami Satchidananda. They were both eager to spend more time in the Divine Presence. 

One evening Baba took Swami Sadananda with a party to a natural spring in the hills behind the Nilayam. Sitting beside the spring, Baba spoke of the existence of chaitanya, super consciousness in man, beast, vegetable and stone. Swami Sadananda quoted passages from the Upanishads to show that the same ideas were to be found in India's ancient texts. Suddenly Baba assumed an authoritative tone and declared, "You call them ancient; I know them all; I am beyond space and time." The discourse then drifted to Saivism, to the conception of God as Siva and the symbol of Siva known as Linga and its significance. Swami Sadananda had written a thesis, "The Origin and Early History of South Indian Saivism," while at Madras University.

It was the Tamil New Year's Day and Baba gave everyone a "poli," a sweet preparation which every Tamil housewife must prepare on that auspicious day. He manifested them by a mere Wave of the Hand!

When Baba left after a few days for a short stay at Kodaikanal Hills, Swamis Sadananda and Satchidananda also joined the party. The six weeks on the Hills provided a great number of opportunities to the ascetics to receive the Lord's Grace in ample measure. They were able to catch a glimpse of Baba's unique divinity.

Swami Satchidananda spoke about this at a meeting at Puttaparthi at the inauguration of the Meditation Grove on the twenty-ninth of June, 1957. He said that whatever others may take Baba to be, he was convinced from personal experience that He was Super consciousness itself, Omniscient, the motivation of beings, the Inner-Resident of all beings. He then described how he became convinced. He was in Baba's room one afternoon. Baba was reclining on His bed. Suddenly He stood up and shouted in Telugu, "Don't shoot," and fell upon the bed in what is called a trance, but is best described as "going on a trans-corporeal journey." His Body became stiff and remained in that condition for about an hour. When He returned to His physical frame, He looked at those around Him and requested a telegram be sent immediately to an address at Bhopal. He dictated the message and the address. It stated, "Don't worry; the revolver is with me. Baba." Swami Satchidananda expressed a doubt whether the postal authorities would accept the message for transmission, for it spoke of a revolver, which comes under the Arms Act. Others agreed with him, and there was discussion pro and con. Baba wanted the telegram to be sent quickly, and alternative words to bypass the rules were discussed. Satchidananda suggested the word, "instrument," for revolver, and Baba agreed that it would convey the meaning intended so far as the recipient was concerned. The wire went quickly to its destination, a thousand miles away.

Everyone was anxious to know what the nature of the averted tragedy was. Baba, however, put aside all attempts to draw the information from Him. On the fourth day a letter arrived revealing that Baba had saved an individual in distress. The writer of the letter had served in the Second World War and was high in Government Service. He was very much upset by the administrative arrangements following Reorganization of States, for persons far junior in service were promoted over him. He had no one nearby to assuage or comfort him or even to listen to his tale of woe. His wife was at her parents' village. Distracted by the unlucky turn in his career, he decided to end his humiliation by means of the revolver. There was one handy. He tried one shot just to see whether his hand would be steady for the fatal second. But before he could shoot again, Baba had shouted, "Don't shoot!" There was a loud bang at the door! Baba had come! Not as Baba, but as an old college-mate accompanied by his wife and a porter with a trunk and a "carry-all," to make the scene authentic in every detail! The officer ran into the bedroom, placed the revolver on the bed, threw a sheet over it, hurried back into the front hall and opened the door! There were the three forms of Baba ready to play their parts. The college chum was very boisterous and demonstrative. Baba had become by instantaneous materialization a friend who had just the qualities that would remove melancholy and could give the officer the tonic that would cure him of despair. He responded to the treatment and became normal very soon. He even smiled and laughed at the jokes of his old friend, and as the conversation proceeded, his thoughts of suicide melted away. The lady also joined in the talk; but when they discovered that the mistress of the house was away, the visitor put on an air of profound disappointment and said that he would prefer to stay with another friend. In spite of the appeals of the person whom he had saved, the friend departed forty-five minutes after he materialized, with the lady, the porter, the trunk, and the "carry-all," thus drawing the curtain on a superb dramatic performance!

After seeing them off, the officer hurried into the bedroom; he was perplexed to find that the revolver was not there or anywhere in the house! Who could have removed it? He had gone to Puttaparthi once with his wife, who was an ardent devotee. Could it be ... Baba? Ah! It must be He! He locked his house and ran in haste to the address to which the college chum said he would be going. His doubt was confirmed; there was no one there. The three visitors had "melted into thin air" with the trunk and the "carry-all!" On returning home, he was reflecting on the stunning events that had happened that day when all of a sudden he was startled by another knock on the door! It was the telegraph messenger with the wire from Kodaikanal: "Don't worry, the instrument is with me. Baba."

Swami Satchidananda said that this incident is much stranger than the "Parakayapravesam" extolled in Puranic texts of ancient India, which is the entering into the body of some person. But this was the creation at the very moment of the willing of three bodies and making them act their roles; the impersonation of existing individuals, correct to the minutest detail in voice and inflection, gait and gesture, idiom. and idiosyncrasy, and the recitation of incidents and anecdotes relating to past decades when they were both students at the same college! "This," said Satchidananda, "is possible only for an Incarnation of the Lord."

No wonder that he and Swami Sadananda wrote to their Guru, Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh, about Baba and His divine attributes. The two Swamis also accompanied Baba to Cape Comorin from Kodaikanal. They had a glimpse of Baba's universal message when they saw Him creating a rosary with the Holy Cross and the figure of Jesus Christ in order to bless a Christian. When Sai Baba walked along the sands of the seashore at Kanyakumari, crystal beads formed themselves at each step; these were collected by the devotees and kept in a sandalwood receptacle; there were 84 of them. Baba said that there must be 108 in all, and when they were counted again, there were 108! A rosary was made out of these miraculously formed beads, and Baba gave it to Swami Sadananda.

After visiting the Periyar Dam and the Wild Life Sanctuary there, Baba proceeded to Madurai and Mayuram, and returned to Puttaparthi via Salem where Swami Satchidananda had stayed for some years. Thus it came about that Baba had soon to reply to a letter of invitation from Swami Sivananda Saraswati, President of the Divine Life Society, Rishikesh. This was vigorously followed up by many reminders and telegrams in quick succession, and Baba agreed at last to proceed to North India.

Baba is not enamored by tours to see places or admire scenery nor has He the urge to go on pilgrimages, for He is the goal of all pilgrimages! When a mother once complained to Him that her son would not accompany her to Puttaparthi, but had instead left for Tirupathi, the famous Hill Shrine of India, He said, "That too is coming to Me, for I am not different from the One who is on that Hill." By mere willing, Baba can be at the farthest corner of the world, for He is beyond space and time. Baba said, "I am not moved by the craving for a change, or for recreation, or travel. Where there is a desire for mental tranquility, I hurry to grant it; where there is melancholy, I hasten to lift the drooping heart; where there is no mutual trust, I restore it; I am ever on the move to fulfill the mission for which I have come."

Swami Satchidananda left before Baba for Rishikesh, because misconceptions about Sai Baba had to be corrected and brother monks apprised of the divinity of Baba.

Baba started from Puttaparthi by car on the fourteenth of July, 1957. He halted at Medkurthi, sixty-seven miles away, in order to install the silver image of Sai Baba of Shirdi at the Ayodhya Ashram. A large group of village folk had been waiting there since noon, and Baba addressed the assembly. He said that any work, such as the building of the hermitage, should be carried out in a spirit of devotion, without conceit and with no desire for profit other than the work well done. Baba condemned the studied neglect of the body as a means of realizing God. "It is the tabernacle of the Lord; it is the boat with which one has to cross the ocean of birth and death with the twin oars of discrimination and detachment; and so it has to be kept in perfect trim." Turning to the women who had assembled, He spoke of the need to infuse devotion, courage, self-respect, and the habit of truth in the children. "No one need go anywhere in search of bliss," He said. "It is there as a spark; it has only to be fanned into a big flame and fire." He declared that although He can transform the earth into sky and sky into earth, people who come to Him get only what they ask and choose. He said that discrimination and detachment can come about by the relentless examination of every thought on the touchstone of goodness and truth. "The true devotee must conquer emotion; the tree recluse must cultivate intellectual sharpness; the true helper or server must develop strength of mind," He said.

The party reached Madras on the fifteenth of July. Four days later Baba and the devotees whom He had chosen for the tour emplaned to Delhi. He was very much amused when He found His name entered on the ticket as Mr. S. S. Baba! He had a hearty laugh over the "Mr.!" Baba moved about inside the plane, dividing His time among the passengers so that everyone could have the privilege of His Grace. He even granted an interview over the Vindhya Mountain Range to a passenger who prayed for the chance because he knew who Baba really was. The man was quite surprised when Baba advised him to marry the school teacher whom he loved, for no one, he thought, knew of this chapter of his life! Baba promised to make his parents agree to the match and to give up their unrelenting opposition!

The plane landed at Palam at 4:30 in the afternoon. Within an hour of His arrival at the Sundarnagar bungalow which had been prepared for His stay, Baba had a "call" from a devotee at Bangalore. He "left" His Body and hastened to relieve the person from what He afterwards described as a dangerous paralytic stroke! The Bhajan Hour, "singing of songs of love to God," twice a day attracted the devotees of Delhi as well as friends and their relatives who had heard of Baba's glory.

On the twenty-second of July Baba left New Delhi by car for Rishikesh. Swami Sivananda's monastic disciples escorted Him from Hardwar. When He reached Sivanandanagar at 6:30 that evening, Swami Sivananda called a special gathering of the disciples at the Ashram and offered Baba a hearty welcome. While Sivananda greeted Baba with folded hands, as was his custom, Baba acknowledged the greeting with His posture of the Hand which means, "Do not fear," a sign that has given peace to thousands of troubled souls.

Sivanandanagar nestles on the lap of the evergreen mountains, banked lovingly by the kindly right arm of Mother Ganges. The left bank of the river, when it comes into view occasionally as the curtain of mist is wafted away, is resplendent with a line of temples and edifices housing the hermitages: Gita, Bhavan, and the Swargashram. More impressive than these are the forest-clad mountains on every side that seem like superhuman sages lost in silent contemplation of the Infinite. They have turned their eyes inward and are blissfully unaware of history.

The Ganges, daughter of earth and sky, famed in lore and legend, sought after by devotees in every Hindu home for thousands of years to sanctify every ritual, to purify every rite, to exorcise every evil, to cleanse every sin, immortalized in poetry, symbolized in art, embedded in architecture, idealized in sculpture, humanized in painting, extolled in music, revered as the vehicle of bliss, tells a scintillating story which is related by a million mothers every nightfall to the toddlers on their laps. Ganges rolls majestically by, reminding everyone of India's message and India's grandeur. When the students of the hermitage arranged a gathering of devotees the next day, and requested Baba to give them a message, He referred to the Ganges, comparing it to a sincere seeker of God speeding to the sea. He said that every river knows that it has come from the sea and it is prompted by that knowledge to hurry toward the sea, irrespective of all obstacles of the earthy terrain. He commended the quietness of Sivanandanagar, the Ashram of Swami Sivananda, and said that it was also a good place to acquire spiritual quietness. Referring to the appellation of "Bhagavan" which was used while introducing Him to the gathering, He said that Bha meant "creation," Ga meant "protection" and Va meant "change" or "transformation." "Bhagavan is capable of all three. That is My secret," He announced.

Speaking of the things that He is accustomed to make and give, He discounted all spurious explanations and said that His Will is immediately fulfilled. He materializes things to give joy to His devotees, just as a father gives sweets to his little ones, not to advertise his generosity or parenthood. He gives them to save people worry or anxiety, to ensure peace of mind, help develop spiritual concentration, and in many cases to keep up His own "contact" with the careers of the recipients. They are not intended to attract anyone; they are the products neither of rites nor ritual. They are produced the same way all articles are produced, except instantaneously. They last as long as all material objects. "My best gift is love; devotees should strive to acquire that, as well as discrimination and detachment which only the Guru can give," said Baba.

He then materialized by the mere Wave of His Hand a magnificent Rudraksha garland of 108 beads, a rosary made from a berry. It was of exquisite workmanship, each bead encased in gold, and all were strung in gold with a five-faced king-bead in the center. He presented it to Swami Sivananda Saraswati. He also manifested a large quantity of Sacred Ash and applied it to the sage's forehead. That evening when the Swami entered the Satsang Hall wearing the unique garland, everyone was awed by its luster and workmanship and the miracle that brought it forth. Swami Sivananda spoke of Bhagavan and His message. He expounded on the efficacy of Namasmarana, the remembering of the Name of God, and appealed as a medical practitioner for a daily dose of dispassion to be taken by every person along with the regular diet of the Lord's Name. The Ganges was mentioned in the talk Baba gave that evening. He began by saying that Naram meant "water"; the Ganges rolling majestically along was God, Narayana Himself, "God in man." Indeed the hills and dales, the sky overhead, the forests, the rocks, all things everywhere were but manifestations of the One. God willed, "I am One, let Me become many," and He became the world and all the beings therein. The one sun is reflected in the water of faith. Faith itself leads one to wisdom. The man with steady faith quickly and easily realizes the Lord is immanent in everything, and that He is the One and Only.

Baba's speeches and conversation were so full of rare and deep wisdom that the next day a number of senior monks and neophytes came to see Baba and plied Him with questions designed to clarify their doubts. Swami Sivananda also had hour-long discussions with Baba every evening and was given fruits and Holy Ash materialized specially for improving his health. Day by day the Swami became better and better. One day Baba took Ganges water in His Hand, and lo, it became sweet and fragrant nectar. He gave it to the Swami to be taken as a cure. It came as a pleasant surprise to many in the Ashram when they saw, on the day Baba departed, Swami Sivananda enthusiastically taking Baba around his hermitage, for on the day Baba reached the Ashram, and for a number of days thereafter, the Swami had been pushed around in a wheel chair!

The twenty-sixth of July, 1957, was full of pleasant memories for the devotees and the residents of the Sivanand-ashram, for Baba boarded a bus and proceeded along the bank of the Ganges to a palace of the Rani of Garhwal for a quiet morning.

The scenery all along the way was very elevating. Here and there among the mountains one could discern a lonely hut with the Gerua Flag of a monk indicating a battle with the lower self. Suddenly the road turned and the bus was halted in front of an artistic little bungalow set like a gem in the center of a well kept garden by the side of the Ganges. Baba saw a jambu tree full of fruits; He plucked and distributed them to the members of the party, then sat under a tree on the river bank. Some asked Him questions that were troubling them, including those about the nature of the scriptural texts and their value to modern times. He said they were like sign posts indicating the road; the road has to be traversed in order to experience the joy of reaching the goal. There was one question on heaven and hell both of which, Baba said, do exist here in this world. Monks inquired about the realization of the universal and the melting away of the delusion attached to the individual at that time.

On the way back Baba stopped the bus at a place where a thin little iron post carried a half-distinct nameplate reading, "The Cave of Vasishta." He descended the rather precipitous incline to the river bank as if He had been there often before, and as if He were aware of a prearranged engagement with the occupant of the cave. The Ganges curves widely near the cave, and so the scenery was doubly attractive. The cave bears a hallowed name; it has been sanctified by the austerities performed therein by many great recluses and monks in the past. Swami Purushotamananda, a disciple of Swami Brahamananda of the Ramakrishna Order, had been initiated into monastic life by Mahapurushji, another direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. The Swami had been in the cave for thirty years. He welcomed Baba as if expecting Him. He was more than seventy years old and had spent the major part of his life in asceticism of a most rigorous kind and in the study of scriptures. His face had the genuine glow of spiritual joy and the slightest mention of the glory of the Godhead sent him into Samadhi, the depths of inner bliss. When a young man of twenty-seven, Brahamanandaji had read his palm at Kanyakumari and predicted that he would go into a cave for continuous meditation.

Baba reminded the Swami of the travails he had endured when he first came into the cave, the struggles with leopards and cobras, a three-day trek to Rishikesh, and the desperate search for salt and matches! He spoke of the help that came to him through sheer divine intervention!

Baba repeated the visit the next evening in spite of a thunderous sky and the grumbling of those who accompanied Him, but both ceased by His Grace. Baba sang a number of songs while at the cave, and when one of the Swamis attending Swami Purushotamananda requested Him to sing a devotional song, Swami Kalikananda said he was longing to hear "Sri Raghuvara Sugunalaya." Baba sang the song to make him happy. No one had heard Him sing it before; so this was an unexpected surprise for which they thanked Swami Kalikananda. Hearing that Swami had been suffering from chronic stomach-ache for many years, Baba "took" some candy from nowhere and gave it to him with instructions about diet. He also gave Swami Purushotamananda a rosary of shining beads which He manifested.

More mysterious and significant was the Vision that He gave to Swami Purushotamananda that evening. As early as 1918, the Swami had written to his Master, "All is false and I cannot rest satisfied until and unless I come face to face with Truth!" After sending everyone outside the cave, Baba and the sage went into the inner room. Sri Subbaramiah, President of the Divine Life Society at Venkatagiri, describes what he was able to see from outside the cave: "Even now that picture is imprinted in my memory. I was standing near the entrance to the cave. I could see what was happening through a chink in the door. Baba placed His Head on the lap of Swami Purushotamananda and lay Himself down. Suddenly His entire Body was bathed in divine brilliance. His Head and Face appeared to me to have increased very much in size. Rays of splendor emanated from His Face. I was overwhelmed with a strange inexplicable joy. The time was about 10:00 p.m." When later asked to divulge the nature of the Vision, Baba informed us that it was a Vision of the glory of the Lord.

While returning from the cave, Baba "left" His Body for a short while. When asked later, He told where He had been. He had gone to save a great Yogi from a watery grave. This aroused the curiosity of everyone around Him and they gathered closer to hear further details. He brushed their questions aside and said that Subrahmanyam would be able to say who it was! Later Subrahmanyam, a member of the party, was asked by Baba what he had seen that evening while at the cave. He begged pardon for not informing Baba immediately about it, for he had seen a corpse floating down the Ganges; but being a thing of evil omen, he refrained from mentioning it in the holy atmosphere of the cave. Baba laughed and said it was not a corpse at all, though the Yogi who was floating down the flood was so dead to all external appearances that he did not even cognize his plight. He was being swept down by the torrent. It seems he was seated on a rock by the side of the river, lost in meditation. The current, meanwhile, was fast eating into the mud underneath the rock which tilted over, throwing him into the flood. "It was all like a dream for him at first," said Baba. Later when he found he was being carried away by the Ganges, he began to pray to the Lord. Baba heard his call; He slowly led the floating "corpse" to the bank, a few miles above Sivanandanagar where there was a home-stead available to give him warmth and comfort.

Raja Reddy, who was at Rishikesh, writes, "We heard Him narrating the incident. During the 'trance' He had His Palms one over the other, as if enclosing something. It was to protect the Sanyasin's heart that Baba had kept His Palms closed. The Sadhu was saved after a thirty-mile float! But one or more of the following three conditions must be fulfilled before the S.O.S. of the person draws Baba's attention. He must either have something from Baba in the form of a materialized article of Grace for protection, or he should call on the Lord, heart and soul, whenever danger threatens him. In case the person in distress fails to qualify himself in either of these ways, he should at least be a man of truth and sincerity. It does not matter if he is not a devotee. In calling upon Baba, no particular Name is essential - Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Allah, Sai, be it any. All Names and Forms being His and His alone, He is only too ready to answer the cry of the one in distress and to avert it. The Yogi was not a devotee of Baba, nor had he ever seen Him. But his life was saved." This incident of the unknown Yogi was a great revelation to many of Baba's Universal Love and Presence.

Baba's cottage at Rishikesh was a busy place during His stay. Inmates of the Ashram and the students of the Academy gathered there and plied Rim with questions on the various steps in spiritual discipline. There was also an unceasing train of pilgrims who discovered that Rishikesh had acquired another focus of holiness. The scholar-saint Sri Shad-darsan-acharya Swami, whose name means "Master of the Six Schools of Philosophy, " came twice with his disciples and students. Swamis Sadananda and Satchidananda found themselves surrounded by eager inquirers wanting more and more information about Baba, His life, His glory, and His Prasanthi Nilayam at Puttaparthi. Swami Sadananda told a young Brahmachari that Baba can roam at will through the regions of the soul, the supersoul, and the oversoul, and can reveal whatever happens anywhere at any time. He also said He is all-powerful and had seen Baba converting a grain of rice into a grain of ivory and transforming that grain of ivory into a hundred and eight elephant figurines, each one finely carved and clearly recognizable by means of a magnifying glass!

Baba left Swami Sivananda on the twenty-eighth of July and went to New Delhi. On the thirtieth He proceeded by car to Mathura-Brindavan, the scene of His past Divine Career. The devotees were eagerly looking forward to seeing Him in that background and to being with Him in that atmosphere charged with the fragrance of the Maha-Bhagavatha, the epic of that Incarnation. The devotees left New Delhi in a bus which made a detour via Aligarh and broke down near a small hamlet some twenty miles beyond Aligarh! Another bus had to be requisitioned, and by the time it arrived and Mathura was reached, it was nearly 3:30 p.m. The party was exhausted, hungry and depressed. Baba, kinder than any mother, welcomed and consoled them so tenderly and lovingly, that to many in the party, the breakdown seemed positively worthwhile! He comforted them with His own characteristically sweet words of solace. "Come nearer the fan," "Stretch yourselves a little," "Do not stand up when I come," "Here! I have prepared this cool drink specially for you," "Take this, you are awfully tired," He said while tending them. In a trice, they were restored to their former energy.

Baba led them all to the bank of the Yamuna, as if He knew every inch of the place, and pointed out the hallowed localities. Who can say what reminiscences were activating the Consciousness of Baba as He showed the places where the serpent was humbled, the Gopis were chided, the cart was overturned, the twin trees were plucked. Every little wave of the Yamuna seemed to dance to the music of His Voice; every cow that was seen seemed to be seeking the warm touch of His Divine Hand!

While returning to Mathura, Baba casually walked into a Radha-Syam Temple where Krishna and the Gopis were worshiped. Arrangements were being made in front of the Temple for a Rasaleela Show, a play on the "Dance of Krishna among the Gopis," in which He appeared as many Krishnas. When He went and stood in front of the shrine, suddenly the lights went off; everyone wondered why! Baba said, "Don't worry; we shall take this idol of Krishna to Delhi and you can perform your adoration to it there!" He waved His Hand across the door of the shrine where one could see the lovely marble image of Krishna in the dim light - in His Palm there materialized an idol, the exact replica of the one installed inside!

On the second day of August, 1957, Baba left for Srinagar by plane and reached the Kashmir Valley at noon. From the air one could see the complicated network of canals that feed the Punjab plains, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, and the rugged approaches to the Banihal Pass and the Kashmir Valley. Once the pass is crossed, the enchanting loveliness of the valley that has aroused the covetousness of monarchs from as far as Macedonia and Mongolia spreads itself before the eye. The gurgling waters, the long rows of pine trees, the luscious greenness of the grass, the signs of quiet toil, fill the mind with joy. Though the Head of the Shankaracharya Monastery of Srinagar pressed Baba to accept his hospitality and take up residence there, Baba preferred to stay in a houseboat named Alexandra Palace. His party occupied two neighbouring boats known as the Prince of Kashmir and the King's Roses.

Baba encourages everyone to appreciate the beauties of nature. He directs attention to the charm of a flower, the colourful magnificence of a sunrise or sunset, the grim grandeur of an overcast sky, the timorous twinkling of the stars in the midnight sky or the quick-moving jasmine-garland of cranes in flight. He took the party to the Shalimar and Nishat Bagh Gardens in the evening, but as He remarked while returning to the houseboat, the snow-covered Himalayas in the far distance were a far lovelier garden designed by the Lord to draw men's eyes away from the valleys in which they wallowed.

On the third of August Baba departed for Gulmarg and Kilanmarg to show His party, which consisted of merchants and businessmen, lawyers and professors, writers, poets and musicians, administrators and agriculturists, the snows of the Himalayan Ranges. Horses were engaged at Tanmarg, and during the long and arduous climb of over twelve miles to approximately 14.000 feet above sea level, Baba kept the party lively by His quips, jokes, occasional gifts, or Ash. He rode His horse, Raja, the tallest and most impressive of all, with ease and dexterity. Never once did He get down to rest. The winding road over the hills was full of pebbles, broken cobblestones and the tangle of pine tree roots, but the horses cleverly picked their way along until the snow line was reached.

Baba, barefoot, played in the snow, rolling snow balls and throwing them at the party, laughing at the frightened faces of those who slid down the snow banks in makeshift toboggans and chiding those who complained of the chilling wind. Everyone was tired and complained of aches and blisters, but Baba was fresh as a rose when they returned to the houseboats about 10:30 that night.

The Alexandra Palace became very soon a replica of Prasanthi Nilayam; many from Srinagar came to pay homage to Baba and receive His blessings. There was an old lady who said she had been directed to go to that very boat by some messenger in a dream she had the previous night. Baba accepted the invitation of a few families in Srinagar to visit them in their homes. At one such home He placed a garland around the neck of a baby, saying, "He will become a great Yogi!" Strange to say, the grandfather of the child declared, "That was exactly what the astrologer who prepared the horoscope of this child predicted when he was born!" He said so only after Baba asked him, "You have already been told so, isn't it?" That was the house of the secretary of the travel agency which had made arrangements for Baba's tour of Kashmir. Baba gave him a ring, set with gemstones, which He materialized on the spot. During the conversation, when someone asked Him at what age He had "given up hearth and home," He said, "How can I, whose home is the world, give up hearth and home ?"

The stream of questioning pilgrims to Alexandra Palace continued unabated for two full days. Baba's answers illumined the Divinity of His Being. Leavetaking was naturally a prolonged and painful affair for the large throng of devotees who had come to the airport on the sixth of August. The plane finally departed for Delhi. Next Baba flew to Madras for a short stay and reached Puttaparthi on the fourteenth of August.


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Written by N. Kasturi M.A., B.L.