MY WIFE AND I ONCE DECIDED TO ATTEND A SEMINAR TITLED “MEN AND WOMEN.” I was 32 years old and had been married for ten years. Though we had no spiritual background, my wife and I felt strongly that we belonged together and would reach the goal of our lives together. And yet, it was a time when difficulties darkened the skies of our mundane worldly lives. We hoped to get answers through that seminar.

To my surprise, the facilitator of the seminar was a disabled lady, not much older than me. She had been born without arms and with hands attached directly to her shoulders! But she appeared to be full of joy and strength with an aura of confidence. During the lunch break on the first day of the seminar, I could not resist asking her about the source of her energy that allowed her to lead a life of joy despite her challenges. She answered, “Oh, I have found my teacher for life–He is a holy man living in India–and I gain the courage to face life through Him. It is indeed a stroke of luck that I have a videotape of His work with me. If you are interested, I can show it to you in the evening.”

We gathered in the living room to watch the video at the end of the first day. But something extraordinary happened. When the facilitator played the tape, my wife and I fell asleep immediately! Regrettably, the video was over when we woke up, and we did not see even a single frame! We did not think much about it and assumed we had dozed off, exhausted from the long day attending the seminar. This incident happened during the spring of 1989.

In the autumn of the same year, we attended a follow-up seminar with the same lady as the facilitator. During the lunch break, another participant asked her the same question I had asked before, and she gave him the same answer. She offered to show him the video in the evening. “Second chance,” my wife and I said to each other and eagerly gathered in the living room at the end of the day. Again, the unbelievable happened! We fell asleep exactly when the start button was pressed, waking up only when the video ended. We felt strange this time but didn’t worry too much about it.

“I think I have finally found what I have always sought. This is my real home!”

The participants gathered in a large conference room at the end of that seminar. The men were seated on one side and the women on the other. After discussions and cordial goodbyes, the facilitator said, “Oh, by the way, I will be traveling to India during Christmas and New Year this year to see my guru. I always take a group of people with me, and there are still some spots that remain vacant. So, if any one of you is interested….” At that moment, my wife and I raised our hands simultaneously and said at the same time, “I will join you!” Then, looking at each other, we said, “Did you just say you would join her?”

We had never been to India, nor had we ever thought of going there. But weeks later, we found ourselves in the Prasanthi Nilayam Ashram at the lotus feet of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Today we are convinced the Lord Himself invited us to start a lifelong spiritual journey!

The Awakening and Another Decision

In 1989, there were no direct flights to Bangalore. One had to fly to Delhi or Bombay and then take a connecting flight to Bangalore. When we landed in Bangalore, an adventurous taxi driver in an old Ambassador car took us to Prasanthi Nilayam. There, a yellow, light blue, and rose color building welcomed us. It was early morning, and we sat on our suitcases in front of the accommodation office, which was not yet open. Our guide told us we would have to wait until the end of the morning darshan (the sight of a holy person) to get a room for our stay. At that time, I had no idea what darshan meant.

A stream of people was passing by us, and suddenly, my wife joined the women’s group and disappeared into the crowd! I wondered what she was thinking, but I was too tired to pay attention. But when she returned about two hours later, she clasped my arms, sobbing like a child, “I think I have finally found what I have always sought. This is my real home!”

I began to wonder whether my wife had suddenly lost her mind!

“You should have been with me during darshan.” she continued, “When this person in the orange robe with a crown of black hair appeared, I was suddenly overwhelmed with energy, and He seemed to radiate a constant stream of love.”

I was not sure what to make of it and what had transpired. In addition to my wife’s strange behavior, I learned that we would share accommodation with 300 other people in a shed. This was a far cry from the hotel room accommodation I had hoped for.

But I was open to the experience of a new continent and what this special place had to offer. After a scorching day, I missed the evening darshan, sleeping on an old mattress, and had a restless night with almost no sleep due to the strange surroundings of smells and noises. In the morning, I joined the devotees lining up on the sands in front of the mandir for darshan. Sitting there in the early morning hours was a unique and wonderful experience. Everyone was quietly praying. An elderly man was going to the front of each line and letting the first man in every row pick a token out of a small bag. This was a lottery to determine the sequence in which the lines would be let into the mandir for orderly seating.

Then, beautiful soothing music started as we took our seats on the ground in front of the mandir. Soon Swami emerged from the mandir, walking slowly from the women’s side towards us. I will never forget the moment when He first looked in my direction, and I felt He was looking straight into my heart!

That memorable first darshan made us change our travel plans in India and stay a little longer in the Ashram of this extraordinary man who willed our stay according to His plans!

The Interview and Inner View

Our guide, the seminar facilitator who had invited us, insisted on having a short meeting every day to inform us about the routine in the Ashram and the rules to follow. One of the most important instructions was to go for darshan as a group to increase the chances of being called for an ‘interview’ by Swami. We were a group of nine, and I was happy that my best friend, Michael, had also come with his wife. Since the men and women assembled separately, Michael and I were always together like twins!

On our third day, we were sitting together in the morning darshan when something happened unexpectedly. The women of our group stood up after Swami passed them and began walking towards the mandir, although darshan was not over. It took us a while to realize that Swami had called our group for an interview! We also got up and joined the others who were seated in front of the ‘interview room.’ I tried recollecting all the questions I wanted to ask Swami (for example, whether He is really God), but suddenly they all seemed utterly irrelevant. I also felt a constant stream of tears filling my eyes, which I could not stop. It felt like I was weeping away all my grief over the past 32 years!

After darshan, Swami invited a second group, including my wife, me, and Michael, into the inner interview room. Michael was the first to enter so that he could sit directly next to Swami on the men’s side. I was beside him. After some general questions such as, “Where are you from?” and “How long are you going to stay?”, Swami turned to Michael and asked him, “What do you want?

Michael had told me before that Swami should prove He is God by materializing a ring for him. Therefore, he answered, “A ring, Swami!” Swami moved His right upturned palm in circles, and a moment later, a gold nine-gem ring appeared between His fingers. He threw it into Michael’s lap. As he glanced at it, Swami asked, “Do you like it?”

“Oh yes, Swami!”

“Then pass it around!”

The ring made its way through the hands of everyone in the room before it came back to Swami. He looked at it, then turned again to Michael and asked him, “Do you really like it?

“Swami, I would like a Christian ring even more!”

Swami put the ring in front of His lips, blew on it, and immediately it became a silver ring with a golden cross, and once again, it landed in Michael’s lap. Swami again asked him to pass the ring around. When it finally came back to Swami, He asked Michael, “Do you still like it?”

“Oh yes, Swami!”

But then Swami blew on the ring again, and it was gone!

Much later, we realized that Swami had fulfilled Michael’s wish precisely–He had materialized a ring for him–but there was no discussion about wanting to keep the ring! That day, I learned an important lesson: we must be very clear in our prayers about what we want from God.

(… to be continued in Part-2)





Mr. Manfred MÜeller-Gransee came to Swami in 1989. Since then, he has been a member of the SSSIO and has served in different positions. Since 2018, he has been the Chair of Zone 7, Northern Europe. In addition, he is the Chairman of the SaiCare Foundation in Germany.

Manfred graduated from the University of Brunswick in 1981. He worked in education before starting an institution for management training and consulting in 1988. Since 2005, he has run a recycling company for electronic waste.



First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 2, Iss. 6