Gifts of Grace

At Shirdi, Baba gave the Divine Panacea, the Ash, contacted by His Divine Hand, from the Dhuni or Fire that was always lit and active in the masjid room where He spent His days. Now, the Dhuni is in His own Hand, ever ready to yield the precious gift; He has only to will and wave. Nor is it essential that the ash or Vibhuthi as it is called in Sanskrit, should be so created. Baba wills, but, does not wave His Hand. Yet, the Vibhuthi flows, as the stream of Grace, where He wills, when He wills. This is the greatest of contemporary miracles, this overflowing shower of Divine Vibhuthi Grace! 

The showers came, silent and unannounced, like dew before the dawn on blossoms in the fields. An anxious parent inquired whether the appearance of ash clusters on the picture of Baba that he was worshipping boded ill: for, he had met Baba a few weeks previously about a missing son, and the ash for him was a reminder of cremation and death. Baba directed me to write to the correspondent that Vibhuthi on and from His picture and the pictures of other forms of God can never be so interpreted; it is a sign of Grace! This happened in Tanjore District. 

At Parmathi, in Salem District, a person who had visited Prasanthi Nilayam and who had not met Baba in person had a picture of Baba in his shrine. He writes, "Since the 2nd of last month, Ash as well as Amrith are falling in showers from Baba's picture! I am collecting them and giving them to the people who come. But I have extra stock with me, which is daily accumulating. Advise me what I should do with these? Can I put them into the holy Kaveri river that is near my place?" Another correspondent from Cochin wrote about the same time, to the Editor of the Sanathana Sarathi. "A few days back, I found that an oily fluid was flowing from one side of the glass of the framed picture of Bhagavan. There are red dots of Kumkum and white dots of Vibhuthi that have appeared on the glass. As I am not quite sure what the above things relate to, I have not given any publicity to this. I shall be highly grateful, if you can kindly enlighten me". What could the puzzled editor, that is, what could I do, except congratulating him on the unique proof he had before his eyes of the majestic glory of Baba? 

Or, I shall quote from a letter about a happening in Calcutta. "I am a devotee of Baba for several years; but, my brother's sons at Calcutta have not seen Baba. So they are naturally upset. Vibhuthi appears and can be collected not only from Baba's picture, but, from all the other ten pictures of Hindu Gods! Vibhuthi is also originating from the photograph of my brother, who died some 8 years ago! Of course, he was a very pious and simple man, with a large heart. On the Ashtami Day, when our family deity at Vaikom is taken out the Annual Procession, the Vibhuthi that showered from Baba's Picture was the same, in texture, colour, taste, and density, as the Ash given at Vaikom as Prasadam; Please find out the significance of all this and let me know what I should do". 

K. Rajarama Rao from Konaje, near Vittal, in South Kanara District, Mysore was afflicted with doubt. He wrote to the Editor, "My youngest sister noted the Vibhuthi at about 9.30 A.M. Immediately, a piece of paper was kept beneath the photo and the showers were collected on it. Please write to me, how we should use the Vibhuthi that has fallen and is falling". The chief Chemist of an Explosives factory at Poona did not waste time in asking questions and waiting for answers. He was too full of chemistry for that. He examined the frame, the glass, the cardboard placed behind, and wiped and turned it upside down; but, he could not discover wherefrom and why fore the ash emanated! He came to Baba at Prasanthi Nilayam. Baba called him in and after the interview, when he left, He said: "I am giving you udi at home, at Poona, not here. Go". That was the confirmation, the benediction, the revelation! 


A Circle Inspector of Police (Retd.) quite accidentally came by two photograph portraits of Baba on 27-11-65, had them framed and kept in his shrine. He and his wife were inspired to hurry up to Prasanthi Nilayam which they reached on the 28th; they were called in and blessed by Baba on the 29th itself. When they left, Baba patted him on the shoulder and said, "I shall come there". How? When? ...he could not ask. Baba demonstrated to him His arrival and Presence by showering Vibhuthi from His portraits. That was fulfillment enough. And, to demonstrate that He was all the manifestations of God known and unknown, it fell in continuous showers from the portraits of all the manifestations, Krishna, Rama, Siva, Muruga, Krishna (as installed at Guruvayoor) and Christ. Perhaps Baba had a special reason for willing that the picture of Jesus shower the amazing new sign of Grace. For, on the 24th day of February, a Christian who had gone for astray, was brought to this house of wonder. He heard the Bhajan from the verandah, he peeped in through the window. He saw the picture of Christ. He trembled before a vision of Sathya Sai Baba in awe and penitence (as he related later) and he burst into a declaration, "I will correct myself; I shall not drink any more." He has been saved and accepted as a child Baba's abundant love. 

That picture of the shrine at Guruvayoor too has a special importance. At Guruvayoor, there are big brass lamps fed on oil placed in the shrine; every picture of the shrine has two of these depicted, on either side of the idol. The shrine has been immortalized by the great poet-saint Narayana Bhattathiripad, who cured himself of chronic rheumatism by worshipping the idol through his inimitable rendering of the glory of Krishna, the Narayaneeyam. Therefore, the oil from the lamps inside the shrine is held as a specific for rheumatism, by people from all parts of the land; they take it reverentially and use it with enormous faith. Baba is the Form that is in the innermost shrine of all temples; so, He willed that oil be given from the lamps in the pictures of that shrine! This resulted in drops of oil falling from the edges of the painted lamps in the printed picture of the Lord of Guruvayoor, in the shrine room of the Circle Inspector of Police! It was collected and used for the same curative purpose; it was seen and examined by priests associated long with that temple, they declared that the oil was indisputably genuine, identical with that available at the original shrine! 


And, not in the homes of individual Bhakthas only, Baba wills that His Grace be showered in this Form in prayer halls too! A. Nataraja Pillai of Muvattupuzha in Kerala writes, "Vibhuthi and Kumkum are to be seen on all the pictures of the Gods placed in the Bhajana Hall. To our extreme joy, it is very interesting to note that butter has emanated and is found in heaps, in the palm of baby Krishna, pictured on a calendar hung on the wall. The picture depicts Yasoda, the mother, threatening her Divine Child with a stick, for stealing butter. 

Baba characterizes the miracle of creating vibhuthi in the palm of the hand as 'My visiting card'; He has visiting cards of various types and sizes revealing more and more facets of His Personality. They serve to announce the arrival of the Avathar, the glad tidings of the advent of the saviour of civilization, from being degraded into a death-trap for humanity. The showers of auspicious articles from the portraits of Baba and His manifold forms are only streamers, banners, headlines, that serve to announce the same comforting news. No consecrated image has so far given such patent proof that it is saturated with Divinity, such daily dramatic evidence that One Universal Will does direct the multifarious forces in the world! 

In the Bhagavad Githa, [see Bhagavad Gîtâ, Chapter 11] after awarding Arjuna a vision of Himself as that Universal Will that is motivating all creation, Krishna says, "Arjuna! This is but a fraction of My Vibhuthi; My Vibhuthi is endless! "Vibhuthi means power, might, splendour, glory, majesty". In the case of Baba, the Vibhuthi (ash) that Baba gives, either Himself directly, or through His portraits indirectly, or through the portraits of His other Forms that are revered by man, is endless in its vibhuthi (splendour). 

P.V. Natarajan from Kugalur wrote to the Editor "Vibhuthi is showered from the raised palm of Baba in the picture; this assures me that He is ever with me and that I need never be afraid". In the village of Samphgaon, Dharwar Dt., vibhuthi is falling from Baba's photograph in the houses of many devotees. Sri. S.B. Kadakola wrote, "Seeing all this excitement, Dandayyaswami Rachayyaswami Salamath spoke challengingly 'All this must be false and faked. How can bhasma or vibhuthi fall like this of its own accord? I too have a photo of Baba in my shrine room. Why does this vibhuthi not fall from that?' And, the same day, vibhuthi was found all over that photo, sticking to it and showering from it! This continued for 3 days. A friend of Salamath came to his house during that period and said, "How can vibhuthi be produced on this glass? The whole village is being misled by some type of mischief". He wiped the glass clean with a wet towel, and squatted before it, declaring, "Now, let me see what you call the Mahima (glory) of this Baba of yours. Let the shower of Vibhuthi fall". Within 15 minutes, the shower reappeared; the quantity sticking to the glass was the double the previous quantity! The critic fell prostrate before the picture.

A mechanic in a sugar factory found that the vibhuthi that showered from about four or five pictures of Baba in his house was extraordinarily sweet, because he found the ants swarmed to eat it! He hastened to Baba to pray that the sweetness might be taken away; but, Baba assured him that the ants will be kept away... and, from the next day, the ants stayed away! There are some houses where the pictures shower vibhuthi on Thursday only, some where more is showered on Festival days when there are more to share it; some where the vibhuthi that is granted from each picture is different in taste and texture from that granted from the rest. If it is rather dark grey and grainy, they call it Shirdi Vibhuthi; if it is soft and fragrant, they call it Parthi Vibhuthi and so on. So too, the Kumkum can be of varied hues, the Amrith of different consistencies, taste and fragance. A Saurashtra devotee wrote that the liquid that the portrait (or rather Baba in the portrait) granted on the last day of Sravan, when they finished their month-long vow of abstinence from salt, was (strange, indeed, are His ways) salt water(!) with which they could resume their pre-vow life. 

Thus shines this saga of the Sovereignty of Baba over Time and Space, over Matter and Spirit. 



At Akola, from the photograph of Sri Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba, in our house, Vibhuthi, Kumkum and Haldi powder (turmeric powder, considered as auspicious) have been showering since two months", writes an advocate. At Rajkot, on Vaikunta Ekadasi Day, vibhuthi appeared. At Jamnagar, on Mahasivarathri, "to our great surprise, we saw 'Om' and 'Sri' written on the glasses of four big portraits hung in the hall. It was written in some oily liquid, which we could smell as Amrith". A doctor from Palghat writes, "I prescribed the vibhuthi of Baba more than drugs; Baba is giving me a regular supply from the pictures in my house". Dr. Bailur in Santa Cruz is also in that happy situation. Advocate Saxena of Rampur gets vibhuthi like this; many devotees in Kharagpur, Jamshedpur, Calcutta, Trivandrum, Madras, Trichinapally and other towns and villages between the Himalayas and the Cape are granted these auspicious signs of Grace in this amazingly convincing manner, by Baba. 

When I prayed to Baba for permission to publish some of these incidents illustrating His Majesty and Glory, He remarked that it may be misinterpreted easily as 'propaganda'! But, the miracle is so widespread, so obvious, so easily liable to be examined and confirmed, that the misinterpretation will be quickly acknowledged by the critics as due to ignorance. At Salem, the vibhuthi is falling from the pictures in the house of the Professor of Physics of the local College! When he shows the pictures to visitors, he cannot be accused of propaganda. I myself have sat on the floor of the house of Vimalananda in Shimoga, watching the piling up of Vibhuthi, grain by grain, second by second, dropping from the picture-frame's edge. I have seen at Mangalore, vibhuthi grains dropping from the left foot of Shirdi Baba's idol (the foot that is kept on the left knee) and forming a pile underneath! I have been most pleasantly surprised when hundreds of Amrith drops appeared suddenly over the big portrait of Baba at Devi Vilas, College Road, Palghat, just when I finished Arathi, after a talk on Baba's Glory, on the holy day of Sravan celebrated throughout Kerala, as 'Onam.' 

The second objection that Baba raised when such incidents were to be published was, that it will make the person so blessed very 'conceited', and lead to his spiritual ruin. This is the reason why Baba is against undue publicity being given to any Grace that one receives from Him; it is a gift that one should hold dear in the recesses of ones heart, that one should ruminate over, in the silence of one's own deepest meditation. It is a secret sign of Love from one's dearest Beloved. Some have been led astray, however, for the ego raises its poisonous hood; they start advertising their spiritual superiority, they challenge others in the village to win such Grace from Baba; they compare and cavil, they compete and condemn! They inaugurate a chain of evil, which robs them of their blessedness! Anxious to establish that they too are devotees of equal intensity, weak men fake and all are tarred by the same brush, when the trick is laid bare, for, Truth must triumph and quickly. 

Let us leave such tricksters to the retribution in store for them and pay attention to the genuine votaries on whom Baba has conferred these and other signs of His incredible Mahima. The Nadaswaram Vidwan who used to come every Dasara and Sivarathri to play music at the Nilayam had an uncle of his as an accompanist, on the drum. His name is Ganesh. He writes, "When I took leave of Baba after the Birthday Festival (1965), He graciously assured me, 'You will have no trouble any more; I am by your side, always'. I went with my nephew to Thiruvannamalai Temple and after playing the music there for the Ten-day Festival, returned home to find showers of vibhuthi falling profusely from the pictures of Baba and Shri Krishna, kept for worship in my house. I am overcome with joy. I pray to Baba that the showers may increase, so that I can give it to all who come." 

As a matter of fact, Baba has given an 'inexhaustible receptacle' of vibhuthi to devotees who will not misuse the gift for their own aggrandizement. You have only to shake it with the name of Baba on your tongue and it fills itself! There was also a man who prayed to Baba that the vibhuthi showers may stop! He did not have the patience that a poor goldsmith in Bombay (Santa Cruz) has; for, the said smith whose work spot is under a staircase on the ground floor has vibhuthi falling from a picture of Baba; he interrupts his work, to receive the stream of visitors who come to see this most 'unscientific phenomenon', of ash turning out paper! This other person lives in a single room, with his wife and three children, in a chawl [tenement] in Bombay. He writes, "Baba has granted me the Grace of vibhuthi showers from His portraits in my house or rather, room. As a result, hundreds from all the chawls around stream into my room, from dawn to dusk and even far into the night. It has become difficult for me to live in this place. Please ask Baba to stop this vibhuthi"! This is a most pathetic letter, which no devotee will ever make, unless his distress is unbearable. One can see that the vibhuthi is as genuine as his grief at the publicity that it got. 

Sri Vaidya of Navsari came to me at Prasanthi Nilayam and gave me a report of the activities of the Bhajan Society which he has built up. I found there an item, "Visits to places of Sai Leela", which drew my attention. He explained to me that in the village of Chinam, there was a devotee in whose house vibhuthi and kumkum were showering from Baba's pictures. "At Supa, when the Bhajans started, vibhuthi showers started", he said. (This reminded me of an experience I had. In the shrine of an old Brahmin lady, at Kalpathi there was a row of glass-framed pictures of Baba. When Bhajan began, one of the pictures began swinging from right to left, slow and quick, according to the slowness of the beats. When the song ended, the picture came to a halt!) Water that was kept before the picture of Baba as an offering to slake His thirst turned in a moment into a fragrant flavoured drink, which Bhakthas termed Amrith. (This happens in a number of places all over India.) Moreover, Amrith flowed in a gush from the Divine Mouth in the picture! (This reminds me of a certain Vaikunta Ekadasi Day, when Baba sitting in the midst of a few hundred devotees signed for a tumbler and poured Amrith into it - a glass full - from His Divine Mouth!) "At Markapur, ten miles off, the party saw the same evidence of Baba's omnipresence and overflowing Grace." 

Baba grants Grace but, never allows it to foster the ego in man. The vibhuthi stops or some other harsh reminder is given when the ego raises its ugly head. Hysteria - Baba calls it, when a person gets intoxicated with pride or envy, as a result of this shower. One has to be constantly aware of one's weakness and one has to be praying every moment for the faith necessary to receive the Grace. Or else, one has no right to claim kinship with the Sai Family. 

Baba does not encourage any one to demand or receive special reverence, as a sign that He has bestowed upon a person some signal proof of His Grace. But, people find it difficult to resist the temptation of offering and accepting the reverence that will harm both receiver and giver. They slide down the ego way into spiritual nihilism. 

Baba told the gathering at Kakinada, "There are some who came to you and say, "Sathya Sai Baba likes me much; He has given me this, a thing which He seldom gives except to those who are nearest to Him". And, then, they beg for help or crave special attention, which is an insult to the Divine Principle itself!" "To receive a mark of Grace from Me is a great responsibility; it is a reminder that you should be humble, sweet in speech, truthful, detached and ever aware of the Sai in all." But, there are some who celebrate the anniversary of the first appearance of vibhuthi in a grand manner, collecting donations for the same; yet others who dispatch vibhuthi or amrith by post to correspondents and collect donations - little knowing the injury they are causing to their own progress! 


There is another series of happenings too, of which mention can be made here. Little children or some times, even feeble-minded adults growing up in the atmosphere of the unreasoning external worship are prone to suffer from visions, to imagine that they hear voices, and to believe that they are able to read messages that He writes or otherwise communicate with Baba! When such cases are known to exist in one house, the neighbor's child is most likely to be affected too. Thus, a regular mass hysteria developed recently in Madras City, in East Godavari District and in South Kanara District, as well as in Ceylon. Baba condemned this in strong terms. At Amalapuram, on the 29th March, 1965, He said, "This has become quite an infection. I am not laughing at any one or blaming any one. But, the truth must be made known. There are quite a few around Amalapuram who declare that I am coming upon them, possessing them, and speaking through them. They wave their hands and sway and shake and shiver, and people sitting around them assert that they are under My influence! They answer questions and, their agents and brokers claim that they are granting 'interviews', as I do! This deceitful disease is spreading among simple people through schemers and cheats. Whenever you see of hear about people suffering from this disease, nip it in the bud; scotch the agents first; then, teach the child or the feeble-minded adult to shut up and be normal. I never speak through another. I never use another or possess another physical vehicle to express Myself. I am not a ghost or spirit to do so, to need some medium. I come direct, I speak direct, I come as I am or as I will to come in fresh created Forms. I do not use weak vacillating human vehicles; I confer boons straight and without any intermediary". At Yelamanchili, He said, "Persons who claim to be possessed by Me have appeared recently; order them out, wherever you meet them. Do not yield to such morons and fakes, and lower your own dignity as devotees". Devotees of Baba are advised by Him to be ever vigilant against the subtle pulls of the sinister and the secret; when the Avathar has come and is so accessible and free with Grace, it is sheer stupidity to say the least to lionize the diseased and the deliberate crooks.

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