BEFORE I MET SRI SATHYA SAI BABA, I WAS A MEMBER OF THE YOUTH GROUP of a Catholic Church. I remember very well a day in the late 1980s when I was on my knees in church praying to Jesus, saying how I wish I lived during His time, so that I could be with Him and hear His sweet loving words.
To my surprise and happiness, about six months after this incident, I learned through a friend that God had indeed incarnated in India. My first reaction was to think he was crazy. But, when he later shared inspiring messages from Sai, I felt a total connection with Him and I surrendered to Him at once.
It was wonderful to see how the message of Sri Sathya Sai was the same as Jesus' message of love and compassion that had touched my heart. Swami said that Jesus exhorted people by precept and example to cultivate the divine qualities of charity, compassion, tolerance, love and faith. It was beautiful to have the opportunity to experience the very source of divinity, to see the very love personified, walking among us.
I would like to share an interesting incident from the time I first learned about Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Swami has said that He did not want blind acceptance, He even exhorted us to test Him to have personal conviction and develop faith.
My elder brother who was a devout Christian did not believe in Swami. Before starting my second trip to Prasanthi Nilayam, I asked him what he wanted from Swami. I further added that he could ask for anything, as I had faith that Swami would grant my sincere wish. My brother replied, "Ask Him for an authentic picture of Jesus Christ." I agreed.
During my next visit to see Swami, I spent 15 days in the Ashram, but I completely forgot about my brother's request. Before returning to Brazil, I visited a longtime devotee of Swami, in Canada.
After a few days at his house, it was time to return to Brazil. Before leaving for the airport, I saw a small picture of Jesus Christ on his altar and asked him about it. He replied, "Don't you know the story about this picture?"
Then he started to narrate, “I took along a color picture of Jesus Christ to get it blessed by Sai Baba during darshan. One day, Swami stopped in front of me, and I held out the picture for Swami to bless. Swami pointed to the picture and asked, “who is this person?” I replied that it was Jesus Christ. Then Swami responded saying that Jesus did not look anything like that. When I asked what Jesus looked like, Swami ran his hand over the color picture and changed it into a black and white picture with a different appearance of Jesus from the original.
He once again waved His hand over the picture and it turned into a color picture. This is a copy of the picture that Swami had transformed.” Then he picked up the picture from his altar and gave it to me saying, “Here, it is all yours!" I was hesitant to accept the picture as it was his precious possession. But he insisted, saying that it is a copy of the one that Swami had blessed and I could have it as he can get additional copies made.
It was only then that I remembered the request from my brother in Argentina, which I had completely forgotten. But Swami doesn't forget anything! Swami came to my rescue and fulfilled my prayer. He gifted me an authentic picture of Jesus Christ through this devotee of His from Canada. I felt elated and grateful thinking about this divine play that enabled me to fulfill the promise I had made to my elder brother. Swami is omniscient and His love and compassion for His devotees is truly boundless.
In 2009, Swami granted me another wonderful, divine experience. It was the time of Guru Poornima, and nearly 300 Brazilian devotees were gathered in Prasanthi Nilayam on a pilgrimage. We were scheduled to sing in the divine presence and I had the blessed opportunity to show Swami a draft of the program folder we planned to distribute in Sai Kulwant Hall.
In this folder the opening page had a photo of Christ the Redeemer, which is a famous monument located in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When Swami saw this picture, He asked me, “Who is this?,” and I replied, “Jesus Christ, Swami!” Then He told me that Jesus did not look like the figure of the statue. I told Him that I would replace it with a photo of Swami before distribution.
Immediately, I recalled the story I had narrated earlier about a similar incident I heard from the Canadian devotee – even Swami’s words were similar. I had forgotten how He had gifted me a realistic picture of Jesus over 13 years earlier. Thus, He reminded me how He responded to my brother’s challenge, demonstrating His Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence. He is with us all the time, ready to help us, if only we call out to Him with all our heart.
We are very fortunate to be contemporaries of the Avatar, and even more so, to be able to recognize Him, by His grace. In His infinite love, Swami created this sacred Organization called SSSIO, so that we can have an ideal environment to work for our spiritual progress. Let us make use of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and let us always be ready to serve Him with love and gratitude.
Jai Sai Ram!
When praying to God, you should have a feeling of total surrender. If you are really keen to realize God, if you are hungering and thirsting for God, then you should cultivate this all-absorbing love. Mere expression of desire is not enough. You should endeavor to experience union with the Divine.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, November 23, 1996
About the Author:
Mr. Sergio Espindola is the Chairman of Zone 2B of SSSIO in South America, which includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. He has held various positions in the SSSIO for over 30 years. Mr. Espindola has a degree in Telecommunications Engineering.
First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 1, Iss. 4