Professor John Grimes sat on the hallowed darshan grounds in Prasanthi Nilayam, having completed his morning ablutions at the Chitravati River. Getting a seat in the front lines for the darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba was relatively easy in the early 1970s. The exception was on Thursdays and Sundays when more devotees visited Puttaparthi.

That day, as Swami walked out for darshan, He seemed to be headed straight toward the professor. Standing before him, He looked deeply into his eyes. John drank in the bliss that emanates from such an experience. Then, Swami lifted His hand, and John looked at it. There was a coin, about 4 centimeters in size, with the image of Lord Ganesha embossed on it. Swami stared at the coin briefly and then looked into John’s eyes. Once again, He looked at the coin and then back to John’s eyes. He did that maybe 8-10 times!

“Hand,” He said.

John complied, and Swami lovingly placed the coin in his outstretched hand. He waved His palm, created sacred Vibhuti, and poured it over the coin. Then, He just walked away.

The professor was both thrilled and puzzled by the experience. Though He wondered about the meaning of it all, he cherished and treasured the precious divine gift.

Divine Instructions in a Dream

Four decades later, years after the Mahasamadhi of Baba, John had darshan of Swami in a dream. In the dream, Swami said to him,

The Ganesha coin…

“Yes, Swami?”

Get a silver cup and a silver spoon…

“Okay, Swami…”

Place the coin in the cup and cover it with water. Every day, sip three spoonfuls of water from the cup using the spoon.

“Definitely Swami…”

And then chant the mantra–Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.

The professor woke up from the profound dream. From then on, he meticulously followed Swami’s advice.

During an interview, John felt that Swami's materializations, though awe-inspiring and miraculous, are not as exquisite as man-made objects. The above pendant was materialized by Swami as an instant response to his thought! Swami gifted it to the professor who received the pendant gratefully and humbly.

Lord Vighneswara

Swami has gifted many devotees with His materializations that show Lord Ganesha’s image. He has also guided many people on spiritual practices to worship Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is also known as Lord Vighneswara. Vighneswara is often translated as ‘Remover of Obstacles,’ but in the complete sense, it means ‘Lord of Obstacles.’ Often, people surmise that He clears all the obstacles in one’s path. But people forget the second aspect which Swami reveals in His Ganesh Chaturthi discourse.

“No worship can succeed unless the heart is pure and the senses are mastered. Ganesha is the God who helps overcome obstacles; but, He will create obstacles when good endeavour is obstructed by bad influences; He will clear the path for the sincere Sadhaka (spiritual aspirant). He is Prasannavadhanam (of beneficial looks) when you pray to Him for good ends; but, He will not be that, when you seek His help for nefarious stratagems!”

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, August 24, 1971

As Bhagawan Baba puts it, Ganesha also places obstacles on the path if one’s chosen path is the wrong one! The gift of a Ganesha pendant, coin, or idol possibly carries a two-fold message from Swami to the devotee:

  1. To always pray to God before and during all actions.
  2. To always view obstacles and challenges as messengers from God.

Ultimately, Lord Ganesha is a form or aspect of God who teaches everyone these lessons. In fact, Swami Himself is the manifestation of all names and forms of God (sarvadevatha-swarupa), including Ganesha. He is also the manifestation of all sages and saints. That is the lesson from the profound experience of an elderly ascetic, as narrated below.

Swami Amritananda’s Déjà Vu

“Amritham!”–Swami Amritananda was pleasantly surprised when addressed thus by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The 85-year-old Swamiji was genuinely astonished at the familiarity and affection of the endearing divine call. It reminded him at once of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi (a renowned saint and great advaitic teacher of Arunachala, who lived from 1879 to 1950). He was the only person to address him as “Amritham” in that loving manner and tone.

Amritananda spent 17 years with the sage. He had now been residing at the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram. What followed turned out to be a remarkable and unforgettable divine interaction.

A Flashback

Baba asked the elderly Swamiji about a Ganapathi Homa (fire sacrifice for Lord Ganesha) that he had done for 41 days at the tender age of 7, over 78 years ago! Baba then shared all the details, including the powerful mantra “Om Sreem Hreem Kleem Gloum Gam,” which he had repeated as a child 1,000 times daily, offering 1,000 coconuts in the sacred fire of the homa. Swami Amritananda continued listening to the details of his special worship of Ganapathi, dumbstruck at Swami’s omniscience.

But tell me, what is the reward promised for this endeavor in the Scriptures?” Swami probed.

“Swami, if the sacrifice is made per the scriptural injunction with discipline and dedication, Lord Ganapathi Himself will appear in homa kunda (sacred fire-pit) in His golden-colored effulgent form with the elephant-head.”


“And, with His trunk, He will receive the final and concluding offerings…”

And,” Swami prodded him on.

“And, with that darshan, He will grant everlasting bliss!”

Did you have that vision?

“Swami, how can a mere 7-year-old boy get that vision by a mere number of repetitions of a mantra and some quantity of coconut offerings?”

“No, no! It is due to all that mantra-chanting and all the sacrifice you have done that you have now come to Me.”

“You will today, after an interval of seventy eight years, get the reward mentioned in the Scriptures.”

The Golden Ganesha

The revered octogenarian silently absorbed what Swami told him. He wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“You will today, after an interval of seventy-eight years, get the reward mentioned in the Scriptures.”

After saying that nonchalantly, Swami asked the elderly Swami Amritananda to look at Him. Lo and Behold! Swami Amritananda was blessed with the darshan of the golden-colored elephant-headed Ganapathi as described in the ancient texts! The vision was extremely powerful and overwhelming. Such was the bliss the elderly Swamiji experienced that he relinquished food, drink, and sleep for four days after that divine darshan!


Indeed, Lord Sai is Lord Ganesha.

As we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi and worship Ganapathi, it is essential to remember the message behind this unique form of God and put it into practice to lead peaceful and joyous lives.




“Ganapathi is also called Mooshika Vahana (one who has a mouse as his vehicle). You may wonder how a small mooshika (mouse) can carry on its back a hefty personality like Vinayaka. Here, mooshika does not mean a mere mouse. It symbolizes the darkness of ignorance because it is in darkness that the mouse moves about. Hence, Mooshika Vahana is one who subdues ignorance and dispels darkness. We should understand the inner significance of the Vinayaka Principle.”

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, September 10, 2002

First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 2, Iss. 9