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The Sai Movement in Mexico
Zone 2, Region 21

By John Behner

This article first appeared in Heart2Heart, April 2006.


A Brief Overview of Mexico

Mexico has contributed to the culture and spiritual development of man from ancient times. Several thousand years ago, pyramids to the sun and the moon were built at Teotihuacan, which means the City of the Gods. These pyramids, built by the Toltecs, are comparable in size to the pyramids in Egypt. Teotihuacan is a spiritual center, which includes many other pyramids and ceremonial buildings.

A Mayan Indian spinner
A pyramid in Teotihuacan, a spiritual centre

At about the same time, the Mayan Indians were developing a very advanced culture further south. They knew the sun’s magnetic cycles and the secrets of life and the universe. Their science was of a very high order, and they were able to explain how the sun affects life on earth such as the earth’s weather, seasons, and even ages, which can be correlated to the yugas described in the Upanishads.

They knew the purpose of life and death, the journey of the soul, which can return to the creator purified or diminished, returning to earth later for another try at purification through suffering. After the Spanish invaded Mexico and destroyed the Aztec Empire in 1519 AD, the Mayan and Toltec cultures declined.

Mexicans became a mixed race, part Indian and part Spanish. The people are generally easy going and love music and dance. Unlike their neighbours to the north (the Americans), Mexicans are not so time conscious. They open their shops late and also stay open late.

Lunch is the big meal of the day, followed by a siesta. Corn, beans, and rice are the staples of their diet, and yes, the Mexicans like spicy food, just as the people in India do. Another parallel in the diet is tortillas, similar to the chapattis but made with corn. Modern Mexico is known for its modern architectural designs, and there are many beautiful buildings.

Mexicans have great devotion for Virgin Mary. Way back in the late 1500s, Virgin Mary appeared to a poor Indian peasant named Juan Diego, in a region that is now Mexico City.

At the hill where she appeared, a famous shrine has been built as she requested, and she is worshipped as the Lady of Guadalupe. People from all over the world frequent the shrine, because many miraculous cures are taking place there.

Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City

The population of Mexico is about a hundred million, and 25% of that lives in Mexico Cit,y the capital. With this overview, we would like to describe how the Sai movement became established in Mexico.

How the Sai Organisation Took Root in Mexico


In 1973, Dr. Luis Muniz and his wife, Gail, traveled to India from Mexico with the idea of visiting some spiritual masters for whom they had references. Their program included visits to six ashrams. The last site scheduled, and one that looked less interesting to them, was the Ashram of Sathya Sai Baba. For various reasons, visits to the other five ashrams had to be dropped; in some cases the Guru was not available, or he was away. So they arrived at the Ashram of Sai Baba. Their plan was to stay there for only seven days, since they were to continue visiting the other ashrams. Instead of seven days, they stayed for seven weeks! Amazed by the miraculous Sai Baba and His wisdom, their doubts instantly vanished. Sai Baba talked to them about their lives in such a detailed manner that they were very moved.

One night, Gail had an unusual dream and at 3:00 AM woke her husband to tell him about it. Three days later, Baba called them for an interview and, with a smile, said to her: “Three nights ago you had a dream didn’t you?” Then addressing Dr. Muniz, He said “and she woke you up at three o’clock in the morning to tell it to you, isn’t that so?” In the interview, they asked Swami if they could open a Sai Center, though they didn’t have the faintest idea how to do it. Baba gave them very simple guidelines, “Women should sit on one side and men on the other. There should be a good aroma.”

The Growth of the Sai Organization


Back in Mexico City, at first it was a family affair. Later, other devotees joined. They followed Swami’s instructions and transmitted it to others. Then other people started singing bhajans in their homes, not only in Mexico City but in other cities as well. In such a simple way, the seed of the Sai Organization was planted in Latin America. There are now 29 Sai centers in Mexico and over 250 centers in Latin America.

From the very beginning, Swami allowed Dr Muniz to publish Sai literature in Spanish. Arlette Meyer from Venezuela translated Howard Murphet’s book, “Man of Miracles”, into Spanish and gave it to Dr. Muniz. This was the first book to be published in Spanish. Later Swami authorized Dr. Muniz to publish Sanathana Sarathi in Spanish. Now there are over 200 books about Swami and by Swami in Spanish.

As the Sai Centers grew, so also did the activities of the three wings of the Organisation. They are now making a positive contribution to the communities and uplifting the members in their spiritual growth. Three Sai mothers from Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, in the state of Chihuahua went to the school that their children were attending and asked to be allowed to give Sathya Sai Human Values Classes. Their proposal was accepted, and that small start resulted in 128 schools in the state of Chihuahua, both public and private, asking for the program over the next ten years.

The Institute of Human Values Comes Into Being

An Institute of Human Values was formed, and over 1500 teachers have been trained. One teacher commented that before becoming involved with the Sathya Sai Human Values program, she felt exploited by the State, that her profession as a teacher was the worst profession in the world, and she always wanted to go on strike. Now she says her pay is when a little girl comes up and embraces her and says, “I wish you were my mother”.

Inside Sai Schools of Mexico ...

As the program in teaching and spreading human values grew, it became apparent that an ideal school was needed to demonstrate what this program can really do for the children. With this objective, two Sai Schools have been opened, one in Chihuahua and one in Cuernavaca. There are about 100 children in each school.

At the Sai School in Chihuahua...

Here is an example of how the values are impacting these children at the Chihuahua school. One day during recess; the 2nd grade children were strangely quiet. The teacher went to the window to see what was happening and saw all the children sitting in a circle meditating. After a minute or two, one of the children got up and moved to another spot in the circle and sat down and continued to meditate. A minute later another child changed places. After about 20 minutes the children came in from their recess. The teacher asked what they had been doing. The answer was: “meditating”. Then she asked why they were moving to different places in the circle. The answer: “to hear God better”.

Another incident shows how the children teach the teachers --and also their parents. One little boy was crying, so the teacher took him outside to talk to him and try to cheer him up. There was a mandarin tree in the neighbor’s yard, which had a branch which came over into the school yard. The teacher asked the boy if he would like a mandarin. Between his tears, he said, “I thought you said it was wrong to take things that do not belong to us”.

Diploma course in Human Values by Sathya Sai Institute of Human Values, Mexico

The Sathya Sai Institute of Human Values is training public and private school teachers in diploma courses that last 90 hours. One teacher said that, “this program must really work”, because since taking it and practising the values, she has started to enjoy teaching and can feel the love of the children. Up in the sierra, the training course was taken to a village where several teens had committed suicide. The application of the program in the village school has helped to overcome this terrible situation.

The Government’s Encouraging Support for the Noble Work

In both Chihuahua and Tijuana, the education authorities have recognized this program of Sathya Sai Human Values as extremely valuable. In Chihuahua, the Ministry of Education paid for the printing of teacher’s manuals containing the Sathya Sai EHV program, and in Tijuana, the municipal education authorities have put a Sai devotee in charge of the Sai EHV program at all the public schools.

In the city of Monterrey, where a large public school has requested the program, after 3 years, a neighbor wrote a note to the principal telling him that she used to be afraid of walking in front of the school, but now she is happy that the school is her neighbor. In the beginning, one classroom at the school was painted black and had grafitti on the walls. Now, the school is clean and painted in pastel colors. The children are proud of their school, thanks to Sathya Sai EHV.


At the Sai School in Cuernavaca

Amazing Transformation In Teens

Service programs have been numerous and varied. In Monterrey, at a correctional Institution for youth, devotees are giving human values classes to the youth and to their parents. On Mondays, ladies from the Sai center give classes to the girls section and on Tuesday, the men give classes to the boys. These youth are from ages 12 to 17. This has brought about a big change in their behavior.

On Fridays, the devotees meet with the parents. This is an interactive meeting, and once the parents start to tell of their problems with drugs, liquor, theft etc. all of them start to open up and they find support and love in the group, especially from the devotees. Their attitude toward their children has changed radically and they are starting to develop a loving relationship with their siblings. This has changed the parent’s behavior, and many of them have a history of being in and out of jails for one thing or another. These people are changing for the better, getting jobs, and keeping them. Some have stopped drinking and using drugs. The Governor of the State has given a certificate of recognition to the Sai Organization for the wonderful work they are doing at this detention center.

Reaching Out to the Underprivileged...

In Mexico City in a slum area, devotees are showing the residents how to prepare soy protein, which is given to them by the government. In another shanty town, a medical clinic has been established and is open 6 days a week.

Medical Clinic for the young and hygiene lessons by Mexican Sai Volunteers

One man who was an alcoholic received so much love from the devotees working at the clinic that he stopped drinking, found a job, and is now supporting his mother. Another man came to the clinic after his wife told him about the loving attention she received in pre-natal care run by Sai devotees. He was a drug addict but has been able to kick the habit and maintain a job to support his wife and their new-born son. After a major earthquake in Mexico City, Sai Seva Dals rushed to establish 2 soup kitchens, which served hot meals to rescue workers and people who had been left homeless for many days.

Moving Hearts with Devotional Singing

In the devotional wing, bhajans are sung in Spanish at most centers. Some are outstanding. The Tijuana centers have recorded a CD with their songs, and, at the Tuxtla Gutierrez center, the devotees were asked to sing at a municipal program that lasted for two days.

The first day, they gave the Sai Organization 15 minutes of program time. After they heard them sing, the next day they gave them 4 hours. Thousands of people heard their devotional singing.


A devotional singing session in progress..

Mysterious Blessing During a Public Meeting in Mexico City

We have also held many public meetings in Mexico, the most outstanding was a meeting in Mexico City. The meeting was to start at 11 AM on a Sunday morning in a well known auditorium. About 1200 people were present when one of the volunteers who was helping outside in front of the theater came in and advised the people at the back of the theater to go outside and see the sun. People started to walk outside, and look up at the sun. Inside, the people who were on stage did not know what was happening. But then they too were advised to go outside. Over a thousand people were looking up at the sun. A few were taking pictures. It was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky, and a bright orange ring had formed around the sun. This was Swami’s Darshan, because it was a very unusual phenomenon.

The mysterious vision of the Sun just before the public meeting started...

The next day the major newspapers of Mexico carried photos and scientific explanations, which were pretty far out. It was apparent the scientists didn’t know what was happening, but the devotees did.

Sarvadharma - Bringing All Religions Together

These public meetings are bringing new people to the centers; most are interested and buy a book and learn more about Sai Baba. The Sai Centers are making their ceremonies and altars look more ecumenical and using study circles to help introduce Swami’s message to newcomers and old timers alike by incorporating them into the regular bhajan meetings.


Furthering His Mission in a Myraid Ways….

Beach cleaning in progress by Mexican Sai Youth
A Sai Volunteer serving in another unique way...

The youth of Mexico are very active in forming groups and looking for difficult service activities. In Veracruz, a group of youth have been doing a beach cleaning service, which no one wanted to do, not even the authorities. Other youth have dedicated themselves to establish electronic web information such as Sai bhajans, and discourses, and a site for Sathya Sai EHV. Mexico will continue to lead the way for many to find the Avatar in this historic moment of time.