SAI MOVEMENT IN GUATEMA
The Republic Of Guatemala
Guatemala has a rich history and culture
related to the Mayan Indians, who have maintained their
autonomous communities and have not intermarried with
There are over 4 million Mayan descendants
using traditional methods of cultivation and managing
their own legal system who live in this small Central
American country, which is located in the south of the
continent of North America and flanked by the Pacific
Ocean to it west and the Caribbean sea to it east.
The agricultural products of the Mayans
are sold in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua,
and southern Mexico and are mostly vegetables. There
are many rivers and lakes, which the Mayans used to
transport their produce to other villages.
The Mayans built large cities
with pyramids up until about 600 AD, when their culture was
decimated due to infertility. The most famous Mayan centre is
Tical where there are several impressive pyramids. Now, Guatemala
has a population of 12.7 million with 3 million in Guatemala
City. Of this population, one-third are descendents of the Mayan
Indians, living in rural communities.
Rio Dulce - where the Mayan Indians
used to transport
their produce by boat to other villages.
A Mayan pyramid close to the Mexican
Modern day Guatemala enjoys an
economy that is mostly agricultural, with sugar cane, coffee,
and meat products making up the major part of exports. There
are several tourist attractions such as Antiguo, where there
were over 30 churches and convents when the colonial capital
was located there in the early 1700s. Chichicastanango, a Mayan
town, is also on every tourists’ list of places to see.
The Sai Movement In Guatemala
When did Swami arrive? Well He
was always there, but people started to discover Him about 1975.
Nassin Michaan, a business man, traveled
to India in the year 1974 and saw Sai Baba for the
first time. He became a frequent visitor, quite possibly
the most frequent visitor from the west. His friend
Augusto Ansuet, and his wife, Balbina, opened the first
Sai Center in their home in 1979.
Augusto had a business of making rubber
stamps, and he also gave his customers free handouts
and told many of them about Sai Baba. His store was
like a public relations point for people interested
in knowing more about Sai.
After a visit by Indra Devi, the famous
yoga teacher, to Guatemala, many other centers were
opened in four zones of the city.
Of A Drunk
About this time a very strange
incident occurred. There was a very dignified university professor
who later became the rector of the national university. He
would take a stroll every day, and during his walk, he would
come across a drunk who was lying by the sidewalk. He would
carefully detour this drunken fellow so as not to have any unpleasant
went on for a few years until one day he found to his surprise
that the drunken fellow, was standing up, dressed and shaved,
wearing white clothes. He couldn’t believe his
eyes! So he asked the fellow what had happened. He was told
that God was alive on earth in the form of Sathya Sai Baba
and that his life had been transformed into the life of this
now aspiring devotee. The professor, had his curiosity pricked
and decided to find out more about Sai Baba. He too became a
devotee, as well as all of his family, and one granddaughter
has started a Sai School as we will read about as we go on.
Returning to the visit of Indra
Devi, the devotees had rented a diplomatic residence for her
visit and talks. Devotees were singing bhajans, and the room
was packed. A fellow from Nicaragua was walking by on the street
and heard the bhajans and stuck his head in the door. Sai
Baba stepped out of His photograph in the front of the room
and motioned to the man, called Norman Cuadra, to enter and
come to Him. Norman walked up the path in the centre of the
room, which was the only space open, and then Sai Baba moved
His hand and made vibuthi for Norman.
Norman did not have anything to put the
vibuthi in except the celofane wrapper from his cigarette
package. So he put the vibuthi there, although he did
not know what it was, and retired from the gathering.
No one saw this except Norman.
However, Norman was very much overcome
by the experience, and the next day he found a book, The
Man of Miracles, in a book shop and bought it.
He spent the next 5 hours in a park reading the book.
He was sitting in the sun, and someone
came up to him and asked why he was sitting in the sun
when there were plenty of shady trees nearby. At this,
he was stirred from his reading and decided to return
to the house where he had seen Sai Baba the day before.
When he got there and asked for Sai Baba,
he was told that this was a diplomatic residence, which
the Sai Baba Organization had rented for the day, but
they had no more information. Norman returned to Nicaragua
without finding anyone else who knew about Sai Baba.
Returning to the reformed
alcoholic, he decided to put a Sai Centre in his house although
there was not much space. However, over the years, he has been
able to build a beautiful centre on a second floor over his
home. All of his family have become Sai devotees, and all of
his children were in Bal Vikas at one time. Many are now grown
and hold leadership positions in the Sai Organization.
In a village in the north of Guatemala,
a Sai School was started by the Calderon family in Huehuetanango.
The school had six grades and was free for the students,
many were children of Indians and farmers from the area.
Other schools in the town asked Maria
Calderon, the director, to train their teachers, since
the students at the Sai School were so much better disciplined
and more polite than other students. The school has
the colours of Prashanti Nilayam.
Maria Calderon with some of her students
General Carlos Arana Osorio
was the president of Guatemala from 1972 to 1978. In
1990, he became the president of the coordinating committee
of the Sai Organization of Guatemala. On a visit to Prasanthi,
just prior to celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary,
Swami called Carlos and his wife for an interview.
During the interview, Carlos
invited Swami to attend his wedding anniversary in Guatemala.
Swami said, oh yes, He would be there. They waited expectantly
during the anniversary celebration, but they were disappointed
when Swami did not turn up.
But then when the photos
of the anniversary were developed, to their surprise and
joy, Swami’s image appeared lying down inside a
Champaign glass in Carlos’ hand. This photo was
later exhibited in the old EHV building where Radio Sai
Global Harmony is now located. Swami came to see the exhibit
and pointed out His image in the glass, and told the story
to those who were with Him at that moment, including Sri
Indulah Shah and the author.
Arana Osorio and His wife during their 50th wedding anniversary
Swami Guides The Sai School
In 1998, the parents of Lucilla
Rodriguez, granddaughter of the professor spoken of earlier,
gave her the money for a trip to India. Instead of spending
the money for a trip to India, she spent the money to furnish
a small school, which was to become the School of Sathya Sai
Human Values of Guatemala. She has been adding a grade every
year and now has 110 students, including 7th graders. But one
problem exists. The house where the school started is now too
small. The playground is on the roof. Before
starting 7th grade, she wanted word from Swami if she should
continue adding grades. In a dream, Swami told her to continue
adding grades, so now she has 7th grade too. But where
will Swami put all these children? That question
is waiting for an answer. The parents are very much interested
that their children should continue, not only because it is
a free school but because the children have changed so much
for the better.
Sathya Sai Human Values, Guatemala
Scenes from Sai School in Guatamala
Inauguration of Sathya Sai Baba School
in Zone 9 of Guatemala in October 2004
Sai Children enacting the play Noah's
The dedicated teachers at the school...
The children sing together...
On 28 October, 2004, the
Institute of Sathya Sai Education was set up in Guatemala to
carry the Sai Education Mission to the next higher level. On
the same day, a Sathya Sai Baba centre also was inaugurated
in Zone 9 of Guatemala City.
The Institute of Sathya Sai Education,
On the Inauguration Day of Sathya Sai
Baba Centre in Zone 9
There are 6 centers and groups
in Guatemala City with service activities almost every day of
the week. There are 4 Sai medical clinics with medicine, and
the consultation free of charge.
There have been several public
meetings; one was attended by over 800 people. As many as 40%
of the population have heard about Sai Baba.
Many have the mistaken belief
that only the wealthy people from overseas are able to
visit Sai Baba in India because the airfare is so expensive.
However, this is not true. One devotee of very nominal
income has won in the national lottery, not once but
twice, and this has permited him to visit Swami on both
Another person, who is
a male army nurse, from a rural town, who did not even
have a bank account, was assigned to look after General
Carlos Arana after he had suffered a broken hip. His
first day of duty at the General's home was not difficult,
but that night when he went to bed, he was awakened by
Swami personally. Jose, the nurse, was afraid
and pulled the covers over his head, but Swami pulled
them off again and just stood looking at him, then disappeared.
In the morning, Jose did
not say anything to Carlos, but he was not very happy
at his new post. The next night the same thing happened.
Swami pulled off his cover in the middle of the night.
Rather frightened, Jose again tried to pull the cover
over his head only to have it pulled off again. In the
morning Jose told Carlos that he was leaving. He said
that the person in the pictures all over the house was
bothering him in the night and would not let him sleep.
Carlos asked what had happene, and then told Jose that
there were millions of people around the world who would
love to have such an experience.
Mr. Leonardo Gutter speaking at
a public meeting..
He convinced Jose to stay and to read
a book about Sai Baba. Then, after a couple of months,
Carlos asked Jose to accompany him to India to help
with the wheelchair. Jose was able to get all the visas,
and traveled with Carlos and his son to India. One day,
Swami called Carlos for an interview. Jose pushed his
wheelchair up to Swami's door and was going to leave
when Swami invited him inside.
Jose had a private interview with Swami
in which Swami spoke only Spanish, and the next day
they had another interview, and again Jose had another
private interview with Swami and all in Spanish. He
received a medal from Swami.
Now, Jose says he wants to be a devotee,
but he is not sure if he is worthy of being called one.
So no matter what a person's economic status or position
in the soceity, nobody knows when the divine wire-puller
will pull the strings and string you to Him for ever.
The Sai Movement in Guatemala
is interesting and inspiring. Sai works in mysterious ways and,
thanks to His grace and love, there is lot of Sai inspired work
being done in this Central American country. Though small in
size, the inspiration this country gives to others is huge.
We are grateful to Gene Massey,
who has been painstakingly taking pictures of the Sai Mission
in different countries and selflessly sharing them with us.