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Editorial

Uniqueness of Sathya Sai Avatar: His Glory, Mission & Message

God, who is beyond name, form, attributes, time, space, and causation, incarnates in human form for the uplift of humanity. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (4:7,8) why He incarnates. He says that whenever there is a decline in the practice of righteousness, He incarnates from age to age to re-establish it. He also says that He has come to destroy the wicked and protect the good and the saintly. Baba has made it even more clear for this present age because He says that both good and bad are in everyone. So, He came to eliminate the bad qualities and foster the good qualities, in order to transform the heart.

Swami said the Lord descends in human form (Avatar) for the ascent of man to realize his true nature, that he is Atma, Brahman, and love. For this, Swami showed that divine love is the very best and royal path. He teaches us what divine love is, how to love, how to nurture love, and how to live in love.

When God comes in human form, He confers three gifts we dearly love, so that we can adore Him and enjoy Him.

  1. Nama, the sweet, divine name
  2. Rupa, the unparalleled, beautiful, Divine form
  3. Leela, the blissful divine pranks or play.

In the Bhagavad Gita (4:9), Lord Krishna says, “Whoever understands My Leela, My life, and My works, is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.”

But it is not so easy. The Taittiriya Upanishad says, “God’s Leelas are beyond expression in words and comprehension by the mind.” Swami declared on May 17, 1968, “No one can understand My reality today or even after thousands of years of ardent inquiry or steady austerity, even if the whole of humanity combines in that effort.” But He assured us we could all enjoy and experience His unparalleled, universal love.

On the occasion of His 97th birthday celebrations, let us share some aspects of His life, leelas, message, and works, even though this is as futile as trying to measure the ocean with a small cup. However, the process itself gives joy to all of us because we experience and enjoy His love.

The Uniqueness of Sathya Sai Avatar

Many Avatars sanctified the holy land of Bharat. However, certain aspects make the Sri Sathya Sai Avatar stand apart even from the Poorna Avatar (Full manifestation of all 16 attributes of an Avatar) of Sri Krishna and the recent Avatar of Shirdi Sai.

  • For the first time in the history of humanity, the glory and grandeur of the Avatar spread across the world during the earthly sojourn of the Avatar itself. The name of Sathya Sai continues to resound across the continents, His beautiful form is being worshipped, and His sacred mission continues to serve humanity in more than 110 nations.
  • Swami never had a ‘Guru’ to initiate Him, nor did He do any penance or austerities as He is the Guru of gurus and the supreme Parabrahman. Even Sri Rama had Gurus, sage Viswamitra and sage Vasishta, Sri Krishna studied under the sage Sandeepani, and Shirdi Baba said His Guru was Venkusa.
  • Baba openly proclaims and teaches the harmony of religions and unity of faiths. He emphasizes that there is only one religion – that of love, only one language – that of the heart, only one caste – that of humanity, and only one God – who is omnipresent. Festivals across religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Jainism – are celebrated by the Sathya Sai Organizations worldwide and interfaith programs are a common feature.
  • Swami simplifies and clarifies great truths in a manner that has never been done before. For instance, Vedanta says the way to truth is by the practice of – NetiNeti, which is explained as ‘Not This, Not This.’ It is an analytical way of helping a person understand the nature of Brahman by negating everything that is not Brahman. But Swami explains that ‘Neti’ does not mean ‘Not This’ but ‘Not Only This’. In a masterstroke of communication, He makes us understand how God is present in all but also beyond all. He transformed an expression of exclusivity to one of all-inclusivity – from the negative to the positive!

His Glory

Divine Birth and Proclamation

Swami is a Poorna Avatar, and His manifestation, His life, and His message are unique. His divine birth is not an ordinary conception - not Prasava (birthing), but Pravesha (entrance). When Prof. Kasturi asked Swami about His birth, He told him to ask Mother Easwaramma, who revealed how a blue ball of light came from the heavens and entered her as she was drawing water from the well. She fainted, unable to withstand the incredible magnificence of that impact. She did not reveal it to anyone. So, it was an immaculate conception. His birth was heralded by auspicious signs where musical instruments began to play spontaneously on their own, announcing the descent of a unique Avatar, the very embodiment of love. Since His childhood, He never knew grief, and He was always radiating joy and peace to people around Him.

Unable to come to terms with Swami’s leelas which were beyond comprehension, His father, Pedda Venkama Raju, brandished a stick and demanded, “Are You a God, a Ghost or a Madcap…tell me?”, and He calmly replied, “I am Sai Baba. I belong to the lineage of Apastamba Sutra and Bharadwaja Gotra. Venkavadhootha, a renowned saint, prayed that I be born in your family. So, I came.” The revelation was too much to digest. When asked for proof of what He spoke, He picked up a handful of jasmine flowers and threw them in the air. They fell on the ground neatly forming the Telugu letters, “Sai Baba”. This happened on May 23, 1940. On October 20 of the same year, He severed all family ties declaring, “My devotees are calling me: I have My work; I can’t stay here any longer,” and delivered His first message through a bhajan - Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam, Dustara Bhava Sagara Tharanam. “Worship the Guru's feet in your mind and He will take you across the ocean of Samsara (cycle of birth and death, worldly existence).”

Who is Sai Baba?

In 1963, Swami declared in His Guru Poornima discourse that He is Shiva and Shakti come as One. On May 17, 1968, at the First World Conference of the Sai Organizations, Swami declared, “This is a human form in which all the divine names and forms attributed to God by man are manifest. This is Sarvadevata Swaroopa, an embodiment of all divine principles.” So is the experience of many people — Swami gave vision as Lord Rama to the Raja of Venkatagiri, as Lord Krishna to Dr. Hislop, as Lord Ganesha to Swami Amruthananda, and as the Supreme Brahman to Swami Abhedananda. There are many devotees who have experienced Him in different names and forms.

Swami often started His discourse with the following verse, describing His reality:

Sarva roopa dharam shantam,
I am all forms, and I am peace.

Sarva nama dharam Shivam,
I am all names, and I am auspiciousness.

Satchidananda swarupam-advaitam,
I am knowledge, existence, and bliss – the One without a second.

Sathyam, Shivam, Sundaram,
Verily, I am truth, goodness, and beauty.

So, we can surmise that He is one in all, all in one, all in all, and beyond all.

Swami is the embodiment of divine love. His love is unconditional, pure, selfless, eternal, and universal. Swami said, “God is love, love is God, live in love.” He says, “The best way to experience God, who is love, is only through love – you can see the moon only through moonlight.” From  childhood, Swami showered His love and bliss on everyone around Him, young and old.

Divine Play and Astounding Miracles

One of the manifestations of His love is His miracles. His miracles galore are astounding, awe-inspiring, and mind-boggling. He made the lame walk and the blind see, averted cancers, cured many from incurable diseases, and raised the dead to life. These miracles are like His visiting card, an expression of His love and a reflection of His divinity. Even as a child, He materialized whatever anyone wanted from the sands of the Chitravathi River, or from a tamarind tree which came to be known as the Kalpa Vriksha (wish-fulfilling tree). All these miracles, Swami said, are like mosquitoes on an elephant, when compared to the grandeur of His divine mission.

Swami said, “These Chamatkars (miracles) should lead one to Samskar (transformation), and then lead to Paropakar (selfless service), and finally to Sakshathkar (Self-realization), which is the ultimate goal of human life. These miracles and divine play are recorded in many books, talks, and movies. They are infinite, glorious, and unfathomable, and all the world’s libraries are not enough to contain them.

His Mission

In His epochal letter of May 25, 1947, Swami said that His mission is to:

  • Confer Ananda, bliss for all
  • Transform the human heart by eliminating evil tendencies and nurturing divine qualities
  • Relieve the suffering of all

This is His mission, and He worked tirelessly in this task till He left His body on April 24, 2011. Still, He continues the divine mission in His omnipresent form, guiding the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO) which bears His sacred name. The SSSIO serves all in more than 110 countries, spreading His love and His message.

He started educational institutions which provide free value-based education from primary school to postgraduate levels, where the emphasis is not only on academic excellence but ideal character development. Inspired and guided by Him, the SSSIO is operating 40 Sathya Sai Schools, 27 Sathya Sai Institutions, and hundreds of SSE and SSEHV programs, providing value-based education to children and communities around the world.

Swami also established medical institutions which provide free, comprehensive, state-of-the-art healthcare, from primary to tertiary care, with love and compassion. Inspired by His example, SSSIO healthcare professionals conduct thousands of medical camps and run medical clinics and mobile clinics in many countries, to serve those in need.

Baba also gave free food and water to millions of needy people. With His blessings and guidance, the SSSIO continues to provide food and water to many communities around the world.

His Message

His message is universal and eternal, and it is for all humanity, irrespective of race, religion, creed, nationality, and ethnicity. One can summarize His central message as “Love All, Serve All; Help Ever, Hurt Never.” And the best way to practice this, Swami said, is the practice of the five human values, Sathya, Dharma, Shanti, Prema, and Ahimsa - Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love, and Nonviolence.

In fact, Swami has declared:

  • Sathya (truth) is My Pracharam, (My teaching)
  • Dharma (right conduct) is My Acharam, (what I practice)
  • Shanti (peace) is My Swabhavam, (My nature)
  • Prema (love) is My Swaroopam (My form)

So, His life is His message, and now our lives should be His message.

Let us follow His four-fold maxim:

Follow the Master; Face the devil;
Fight to the end; Finish the game.

The end of the game is Self-realization. For this, we need to remember, contemplate and affirm what Swami advised us in the 1983 Birthday discourse on November 23rd:

I am God. I am not different from God.
I am the indivisible, Supreme, and Absolute (Akhanda Parabrahman).
I am Being, Awareness, and Bliss (Satchidananda).
Grief and anxiety can never affect me.
I am ever content. Fear can never enter me.

When we pray and practice these affirmations with absolute faith, we reach the goal supreme, and always live in divine love and divine bliss.

The uniqueness of Sai Avatar, His Message, and His Mission is astoundingly breathtaking and awe-inspiring. After many lifetimes, we are uniquely blessed to be the recipients of Divine Grace from the Poorna Avatar. As our Eternal Charioteer, He guides us. As our Eternal Companion, He lovingly guards us. Let us make the best use of this golden opportunity and pay heed to His Divine clarion call. Let us surrender to Him unconditionally and completely.

Jai Sai Ram.