IT WAS THE LAST DAY OF MY FIRST TRIP TO INDIA – A MOST FRUITFUL ONE, for I was blessed to experience the Divine Love of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! I had arrived from Argentina in January 1982 and it was already March 1982. When I left India in March 1982, I had a strong urge to return as soon as possible. I prayed to Swami to bring me back by September. It was a wishful prayer because I had just started working with a new company and had already spent all my savings. I did not have the financial means to return anytime soon. Still, as I bid goodbye to the people I had met at the Ashram, I told them I would be back in September!
An Irresistible Divine Urge
A few months after returning to Argentina, a live show producer came to my licensing company with a proposal to produce a children’s play in Ecuador with the characters that my company represented. The company owners approved the proposal, and soon, I was on my way to Ecuador with a 30-day-valid return ticket bought by the live show company. We toured Ecuador for 29 days, performing a play with Marvel Comic characters and action superheroes such as Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. On the twenty-ninth day, the tour ended, and the next day I had a flight booked to return to Argentina. At that moment, it struck me that nobody in Ecuador knew about Sai Baba, and I had an irresistible urge to share the enormous joy of experiencing a remarkable encounter with God (Avatar) living in India.
So, I rushed to the airline’s office to request to change my ticket for a later flight. By Swami’s grace, I paid just USD 100 as a fee to get an open ticket valid for an entire year! I was thrilled that Swami had granted me my wish.
Baba had just come to his side. He told him to open his mouth, and then He put His hand into his mouth, extracted something, and said, “Cancer has been canceled.”
When Sai Gives a Task, He Makes You Achieve It
I soon realized that talking about Sai Baba in Guayaquil was not easy. I did not know anyone locally, and I could not just go to a park, stand on a bench, and talk about Sai Baba. As I prayed to Swami for guidance, I remembered that an old friend, Claudio Duran, lived in Quito, Ecuador. He had earlier introduced me to the Suddha Dharma Mandalam, the Raja Yoga organization where I had been vice president. He was presently a musician who composed jingles for advertising campaigns.
So, I called him and laid bare my thoughts and plans to spread the news about Sai Baba in Ecuador. He advised me, “Look, the only way I can help you is if you come to Quito, where, at least, there will be two of us trying.” So, I took a flight to Quito. Three days after I was initially scheduled to return to Argentina, I was at the headquarters of a Hatha Yoga organization run by a Catholic priest, delightedly sharing the story of Sai Baba with the attendees. The hall was full of people, and I spoke for almost an hour about my experiences with Sai Baba and His message. When I finished my talk, the Catholic priest was quite impressed and told me that if I wrote an article about Sai Baba, he would include it in their monthly magazine.
Moreover, if I had a photograph of Sai Baba, it would be featured on the magazine’s cover! My heart jumped with joy and gratitude. In just a few days, Swami resolved my dilemma–from wondering how to speak about Sai Baba in Ecuador, an article was going to be published in a magazine distributed throughout Ecuador! I was so happy that I could touch the sky with my hands!
The Master’s Plan is the Masterplan
Claudio invited me the next day, Saturday, to go to a classical music concert. My flight back to Argentina was scheduled for the following Tuesday, so I went to the concert with him. After the concert, Claudio met with an important client for whom he was creating an advertising campaign. Since it was cold at night and the discussion was not completed, the client invited us to visit him the next day, Sunday, for a lunch meeting to continue the conversation. Though I had no intention of participating in a working lunch, Claudio insisted on my attendance, saying that it would be impolite for me not to attend and that it would also embarrass him. So, I reluctantly agreed, mainly not to let Claudio down.
Claudio’s client, Dr. Teodoro Crespo, was a prominent industrialist in Ecuador who had also served as his country’s ambassador to Israel. During lunch, he asked me why I was visiting Ecuador, and I told him about my memorable trip to India and my life-changing meeting and experiences with Sai Baba. I spoke enthusiastically nonstop for ten minutes about Sai Baba. Dr. Crespo suddenly interrupted me and asked, “Sir, would you mind going to India with me?” Surprised and happy at the same time, I replied that it would be no trouble at all! He said, “Well then, tomorrow, Monday, I’ll wait for you at 10 am at a travel agency at this address to buy our tickets to India.”
When I returned to the hotel, I thought the invitation to go to India was probably a joke. But on Monday, suddenly, it occurred to me, what if it’s not a joke, but true and genuine? I was torn between my incredulous rational mind and the possibility that it was a sign from Sai Baba. So I called a taxi and went to the address of the travel agency. A travel agency was indeed located there, and Teodoro had already bought two tickets to India!
Thus, on September 2, 1982, I entered Sai Baba’s Ashram in Whitefield, South India, accompanied by Dr. Teodoro Crespo. This incident reminded me of Swami’s assurance, “Take one step toward Me, and I will take a hundred steps towards you.”
It was the first day of our stay at Whitefield Ashram near Bangalore. We were waiting expectantly to have the first darshan when Baba came out of His house, about a hundred meters from where we were sitting. Then I heard His voice echoing clearly in my head for the second time in my life, saying, “Didn’t you want to be here in September? Here you are!” What a miracle!
Cancer Canceled and a Heart Overjoyed
During the long journey to India, Teodoro shared with me the reason for his impromptu decision to visit Sai Baba with me. A short time ago, he was told that he had a tumor on his palate, and the subsequent biopsy revealed that it was malignant. Within a few days of the diagnosis, my chance arrival at his house and my story of Sai Baba and His miraculous powers piqued his interest. With nothing to lose, Teodoro felt an inner prompting to go to India to see Sai Baba.
Teodoro, at that time, was a relatively well-built man, accustomed to a comfortable life surrounded by luxury. The austerities of the Ashram were difficult for him to endure, and he would complain constantly. In those days, Sai Baba gave darshan in Whitefield every morning, and on Thursdays and Sundays, He gave darshan both in the morning and the afternoon. Many devotees who came for morning darshan would stay seated till the afternoon darshan. On one of those days, Teodoro decided to sit and wait for the afternoon darshan while listening to bhajans being sung. I left after morning darshan. When I returned in the afternoon, I found him sobbing uncontrollably, like a child.
When I asked him what was going on, Teodoro told me, between sobs, that Baba had just come to his side. He told him to open his mouth, and then He put his hand into his mouth, extracted something, and said, “Cancer has been canceled.” No one around him physically saw Swami, but Teodoro had that unforgettable miraculous experience of Swami curing him.
Soon after, we followed Swami to Prasanthi Nilayam, the primary Ashram of Baba, to spend a few days there before returning to Ecuador. After returning to Argentina, I learned later that Teodoro saw his doctor and then came for a check-up at the Texas Cancer Center, where they performed a biopsy. The results showed no trace of any malignant tumor on his palate, and he was completely cured of cancer.
Still stunned by this miraculous experience, Teodoro published a magazine with his experience with Sai Baba. He illustrated the story with the photos he had taken at the Ashram, printed 10,000 copies, and distributed them throughout Ecuador for free.
Inspiration Is the Divine Voice Within
What started as an irresistible urge within me to share Sai Baba’s glory and universal message with the good people in Ecuador later turned into a much bigger movement. The talk I gave at the Hatha Yoga Center about Sai Baba was published as an article in the magazine run by the Catholic priest. In addition, Teodoro Crespo shared his incredible healing experience in the magazine he published only for that purpose, which had a circulation of about 10,000.
Today, there are two Sathya Sai Schools in Ecuador, several Sathya Sai centers, and many Sathya Sai devotees throughout the country. Many years after he was cured of cancer by the grace of Sathya Sai Baba, Teodoro Crespo visited Buenos Aires to share his experience with the Argentinian devotees. Along with several family members, Teodoro Crespo remained till his death some years ago as an ardent devotee of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
About the Author:
Mr. Leonardo Pablo Gutter, a psychologist by profession, has been serving in the Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO) for over four decades. He has had many personal interactions with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He started the Latin American movement of the SSSIO and previously served as the Chairman of Zone 2, Latin America. Mr. Gutter is a founding member of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust of Argentina.
He is a Member of the Prasanthi Council, Director of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Committee. Working with the entertainment industry over the past 43 years, Mr. Gutter represents some of the largest American, European and Japanese TV and cinema studios in Latin America.
First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 2, Iss. 3