(translated from Spanish by Beatrice Ford and Maritza Hernandez)
(first published by Sri Sathya Sai Baba Center of Flushing, New York, September 25, 2016)
One of the favorite hobbies of the devotees of Sai Baba is to narrate the events or circumstances that led us to know of Him. Then we delight in the mystery of the cosmic plot of each person’s personal history and we witness how the discovery of Sai Baba, the knowledge of him and any activity that bring us closer seems to be part of a pre-established concept and familiar roots. Otherwise, we would not be able to explain the select following of devotees from the most remote corners of the planet without any publicity in the process. I allow myself to share the story of my getting close to Sai Baba, rather than pretending to explain the nature of an Avatar.
In 1976, I was completing my studies in Psychiatry at Stanford University in California. Those were years of intellectual search, of a bachelor’s dissipated life and of a permanent existential crisis. I used to live in a romantic cabin atop of a hill and I used to sleep in a huge waterbed in front of a window facing a magnificent weeping willow.
One day after receiving enough money, I went to the bookstore with a preselected list to buy all the books that I had denied myself before. One by one, the books began to fill in the basket when my attention went to a pile of new books which cover showed the picture of a strange character with an afro hair type and a loud orange robe. The suggestive title: “The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist” made me think that it was a book written by the person in the picture and that most likely, by his appearance, it was an eccentric psychiatrist that looked like an Australian aborigine. I continued with the book in my hand debating if I should buy it or not, after all, I suspected that it was one more book about unconventional therapies, since in the California of the time, new humanistic approaches and all sorts of body therapies proliferated. In the end, without much conviction and hurried by the cashier, I put it with the rest and I took it home.
Upon arriving, the books took their place and began to fill the shelves, there, among the others I placed the one from the orange robe character, but not before giving it a suspicious glance. Then a series of events began to occur which would last several weeks and which I could never explain reasonably and logically, as with the arrogance of an ignorant maintained that every event in the plane of reality is subject to a rational explanation. That intellectual obstinacy would be cast down to the ground by the events that were about to take place.
Shortly after bringing the books, the house began to fill with an intense smell of perfume, so fragrant that I began to suspect that any of my lady friends had sprayed perfume. One afternoon I discovered on the bookshelf a peculiar dark powder or ash. I found no explanation for this so I simply wiped it. During the weeks that followed the powder continued appearing in the same place in considerable amounts. I thought that it could be termites in the wood of the shelves but after looking closely to the wood I discarded it (the idea). My surprise increased when while cleaning I noticed that the powder was also on top of the picture of the orange robe character.
This phenomenon continued and I began to suspect that the powder was directly related with that book and with the person on the picture. I examined the book and tried to read the first page, but inexplicably I could not manage to concentrate and continue reading because the words seemed meaningless and I could not understand. Then I looked at the picture and spoke mentally with the person in the orange robe falling in a strange concentration. I spoke mentally with that picture and often I asked who he was, to which it invariably replied: “God”. I got excited and answered: “that’s not possible” and the conversation would continue. This strange experience continued daily. The silent conversations, the perfume, the abundant ash that emitted, and the suspicion that any of my friends was playing practical jokes on me, or perhaps, and why not? It was a subject of “witchcraft”. This situation caused such an emotional intensity that it threatened my daily balance. A few weeks later and gradually, the phenomenon began to decrease till finally disappear and be completely forgotten as something I could never rationally explain.
But the discovery of Sai Baba would come, as it often does, via the family. The book in question began to go from house to house, from box to box, from move to move, to finally end in a corner of my Caracas’ office with the weight and commitment of the books never read.
I was working in New York and travelled frequently to Caracas where my family lived. In one of those trips, Yogi Shankara, my uncle Blas Antonio Garcia, invited me to dinner to talk untiringly of someone named Baba of India who materializes objects and does all kinds of supernatural acts. I noticed such enthusiasm in my uncle, that when I returned home I told my wife how surprised I was. I could not understand how a man with his education and knowledge, able to dissect, to discern and not to give up his constant spiritual and intellectual search, could end up in the hands of an unknown charlatan, magician or juggler that materializes objects.
A few weeks later and at the end of a birthday party, my uncle calls me aside and having realized my skepticism on the subject, he gives me a book “My Baba & I” from John Hislop, asking insistently to read it. On the plane coming back to New York, I took out the book to take a peak. Sai Baba’s photo immediately shocked my senses and took me back to my school years in Stanford and that forgotten memory came alive immediately.
It took 15 years before I found out that the mystic book was written by Dr. Samuel H. Sandweiss, an American psychiatrist who years ago had finished his studies in another university of South California. That the perfumed powder was called Vibhuti and that the person in the photo was not Australian, or a psychiatrist. It was Sathya Sai Baba, the Avatar of this era, the one that had given me supreme grace of a visit leaving me his presentation card.
With intense emotion I finished reading the book on the plane and before landing, I had decided to go visit India to meet Sai Baba personally. The past experience inundated everything and opened a path full of devotion towards Sai Baba. His words:
There is only one Religion; The Religion of Love
There is only on Caste; The caste of Humanity
There is only one language; The language of the heart
There is only one God and he is Omnipresent
Del Sánscrito Om, la sílaba sagrada en su forma escrita. Es la vibración vital que llena el universo y de acuerdo a los Upanishads representa lo Divino y el poder de Dios. Símbolo sonoro de la Realidad final, sus tres letras A, U y M representan, respectivamente, los estados de conciencia externa, interna y el superconsciente, así como los tres estados del hombre, (despierto, sueño y sueño profundo), las tres partes del día (mañana, tarde, noche) y las tres capacidades (actuar, saber, desear). Más allá está el estado sin forma del Ser, de acuerdo a Advaita Vedanta. Se le considera perdurable e inagotable y se le interpreta, en parte, como una expresión representativa del espíritu creativo, la palabra.