Christmas is a time to celebrate the advent of Jesus Christ, who taught and spread the principle of divine love. There are many beautiful accounts in the Bible of the miracles of Christ, which were expressions of Christ’s love for humanity, and the power of one’s faith in God.
Likewise, Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Swami) taught and spread the principle of divine love. Swami was the embodiment of love. He spread the message of love in many ways, including numerous writings and discourses. He exemplified divine love through His service projects and educational institutions, and His love was reflected in the transformation of His devotees.
Swami also expressed His love and revealed His divine nature through miracles, which were spontaneous manifestations of His love and divine will. Swami referred to these miracles as His “visiting cards.” These miracles helped to foster greater faith to follow His universal teachings and practice the eternal human values of Love, Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, and Non-Violence. This spiritual practice, or Sadhana, eventually leads to oneness with God.
An ardent devotee of Swami and a seeker of God, Diana Baskin witnessed many such miracles and memorialized her experiences in her book, Divine Memories of Sathya Sai Baba. In the chapter titled “A Resurrection”, she recorded the Christmas miracle she witnessed on December 25, 1971.
"On December 25, 1971, while giving a discourse, Swami suddenly stopped speaking, walked over to Dr. Jack Hislop at the side of the stage, and whispered something to him. Jack left immediately, and Swami resumed the discourse. When we returned to the guest house, Dr. Hislop told us a fascinating story. Swami had told him that Walter Cowan had just died and that Elsie, his wife, was at that moment fervently praying and calling Swami. He told Jack to go to Mrs. Cowan and assure her that He had heard her prayer and would soon be coming to the hospital to see Walter.
Elsie and Walter Cowan, founders of the Sathya Sai Book Center of America, had arrived a few days earlier from the United States and were staying in a hotel in Madras. That morning, Mr. Cowan had died in his wife’s arms. An ambulance was called, and his body was taken to a hospital and placed in a storage room after being pronounced dead. Swami visited the hospital later and restored life to the body of Walter Cowan."
The next miraculous event occurred on New Year’s Day, 1972, just a few days after the revival of Mr. Cowan from death. The following is an excerpt from the book, Divine Memories of Sathya Sai Baba, in the chapter titled Amrita, The Nectar of Immortality.
"On January 1, a few days after we returned to Brindavan from Madras, Swami told us to have our cars ready as that evening, He was taking us and the Kamani family to the riverbed. The Kamani family was headed by several brothers who were owners of large steel factories in India; they were greatly devoted to Swami. We came to know well the eldest, Poornachandra, and his wife, Sumitra and found them to be supreme examples of devotees capable of balancing the life of the world with that of the spirit. They practiced having their “hands in society and head in the forest,” as Swami teaches.
Swami asked Colonel Jogarao that afternoon to find a pleasant spot on the riverbed. That evening, the brightest full moon was shining as we followed Swami’s car to a spot chosen beforehand by the Colonel. As he showed Swami the spot he picked, Swami commented that there was not much sand and we could not imagine what He was planning to do or why He had brought us here. The constant anticipation of the unexpected makes being with Swami a great adventure.
We sat in a circle around Swami and watched as He started playing with the sand. First, He flattened and patted the sand, making a smooth foundation. Next, He gathered more sand and made a mound on top of the flat surface. Then, He carefully drew a design on the very top of the mound. Looking at us with a mischievous smile, He reached just below the design and pulled out a little brass urn. We all gasped in astonishment. “Amrita,” Swami said.
Amrita is the fabled nectar that gives immortality which, according to Indian scriptures, was first obtained by churning the ocean of milk. Swami tried to open the screw top, but it was difficult. “Tight fit,” He said as He tried a second time and succeeded. He then asked if anyone had a spoon. Some of the men jumped up and scurried about but could not find one. Swami waved His hand in large circular motions, and immediately we saw the hand grasping a spoon. He asked for a cup into which He poured all the amrita from the urn.
The college boys started singing bhajans. Their celestial voices and sound of the drums created a heavenly atmosphere as Swami walked down the line pouring spoonfuls of amrita into our mouths. The taste of the divine nectar was indescribable: a mixture of honey, roses, and delicate spices. That moment was divinely sweet and sacred, as though filled with celestial music.
Swami had told Poornachandra Kamani to begin preparations for his retirement and free himself from all responsibilities, as he would be spending the remainder of his life with Swami in Prasanthi Nilayam. Only Swami knew, on New Year’s Day of 1972, the significance of the nectar of immortality He had given to Mr. Kamani, as He alone was aware of his destiny and future plan (that would occur in only a few months) to immortalize the memory and name of this dear devotee.
Poornachandra, after receiving the sacred amrita, had returned to Bombay and followed Swami’s instructions. His last task was to turn the business over to his brothers in a farewell speech to the board of directors of the company. As he concluded the meeting by thanking his staff and asking the board members to give the same love and support to his brothers which they had given him so that now he could join his beloved Guru – he collapsed into the arms of his wife and never regained consciousness."
The Governor of Karnataka State was in Prasanthi Nilayam with Swami when this occurred and witnessed His omniscience when Swami lovingly placed His hand on His heart and said, “Kamani has come.” Only five days after his passing, Swami immortalized his name by naming the auditorium in Prasanthi Nilayam, Poornachandra, in honor of the man who donated the hall and undoubtedly is spending his retirement in the abode of the highest peace."
Being immortal does not imply that one can avoid death and continue living in the physical body for all time. It means only that one’s name and fame will shine in the memories of people. When your deeds are holy, coming generations will emulate them and offer gratitude for your example.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Rajamundry, January 04, 1974