Last of a series
We arrive in Bangalore, the third-largest city in India, because it is the closest major airport to Puttaparthi, the home of Sai Baba, a present-day saint with followers from every country in the world. Puttaparthi is our destination.
Bangalore, in Southern India, is referred to as the Silicon Valley of India. It accounts for 35 percent of India’s software exports. It also is home to prestigious colleges and research institutions, and several major industries in aerospace, electronics and biotechnology. Many American and international companies have their Asian headquarters here. Bangalore is known as the Garden City of India because of all its beautiful parks.
We began our three-hour drive to Puttaparthi the next morning, arriving there around noon. Our first order of business was an afternoon darshan at Sai Baba’s ashram. We walked into a massive pink building where devotees experience Sai Baba’s darshan (blessing). Women are seated separately from men. Everyone settles down on the floor, as there are no chairs. The program begins with the chanting of "OM" and devotional songs of varying religions. Sai Baba arrives during the program to bless his devotees and to meet with some of the visitors. I sat next to a lady from Denmark who has been a regular visitor to Puttaparthi. She was all aglow at the sight of Sai Baba. Listening to the accents around me, I recognized people from Germany, Australia, England, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Africa continent and Russia, among others. Humanity from all walks of life gathered together to honor an avatar who has dedicated his life to uplift humanity with his message of Love.
I will quote two of Sai Baba’s messages: "I have come to light the lamp of love in your hearts, to see that it shines day-by-day with added luster." And, "There is only one religion, the religion of Love. There is only one language the language of the Heart. There is only one caste, the caste of humanity. There is only one law, the law of karma. There is only one God. He is Omnipresent."
A divine personality
Frank Baranowski, a specialist in Kirlian photography and seeing auras, notes that Sai Baba’s aura is unlike anyone else’s, appearing so extensive that it extends beyond the horizon and contains silver and gold bands never seen before. He believes Baba to be a divine personality.
I felt this incredible feeling of Love flow all around and within me. I saw Sai Baba twice in two darshans and felt really blessed to pay homage to a man whose philosophy and teachings are based on love and service to humanity.
Surprisingly, there were no collection boxes or requests for donations. Because Sai Baba does not accept gifts of any kind, many of his followers who wanted to give back to him in gratitude for some of the miraculous changes in their lives started a non-profit foundation that takes care of the health and other needs of the sick and the many visitors to the ashram.
Gary (my husband and Edge Life publisher) was still not doing too well, and we were guided by one of the devotees to take him for treatment to the Sai Baba Clinic next to the ashram. Gary was given some medication and wanted to pay for the consultation. It was quite hilarious to see the doctor’s laugh at his request. All medical services are free here! In addition to the clinic, the community has a state-of-the-art hospital that was designed by the architectural adviser for Britain’s Prince Charles. All medical costs at the hospital also are free to the public. In addition to the hospitals, several drinking water projects worked to supply water to many rural villages, bringing relief to a few million people.
Sai Baba has been attributed with many miracles of healing and miraculous manifestation of vibhuti (holy ash), holy water, statues of deities (brass and gold), sugar candy, fruits, herbs, gems, gold chains, rings and various other items that he has materialized spontaneously as gifts for devotees. Some of these substances, like holy ash and writings in ash, have also miraculously manifested in the homes of devotees with altars of Sai Baba.
He is a figurehead for more than 10,000 centers of free educational institutions, charitable organizations and service projects in 166 countries. The Sri Satya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in Prasanti Nilayam has received excellent ratings for its educational programs.
We left Puttaparthi, with its beautiful temples and Sai Baba’s ashram, with feelings of gratitude for being graced with this visit. I felt waves of love coming from Sai Baba for making the time to visit him. After that I was continually bombarded with the message Look for the god within. I felt happy and blissful and fully understood man’s quest for completion – to find the God within and be at peace with yourself instead of getting caught in the chaos and frenzy when looking for answers outside of yourself.
On our way back to Bangalore, we visited a Jain temple on top of a hill. Gary and I both felt great energy. Jain worshippers are very similar to Buddhists. They don’t kill or hurt animals. They are renowned for their business acumen; Jains head several major corporations and businesses in India.
Road to recovery
Gary was now on the road to recovery and that helped considerably in our journey. We flew from Bangalore to Cochin. The South of India has a very strong Catholic influence dating back to a time of Portuguese occupation. We visited a chapel in Cochin where a picture of Jesus miraculously appeared at the bottom of a huge portrait when a Catholic couple were praying one evening. They saw a flash of brilliant white light over the portrait and were totally overwhelmed to witness this event. To this day, the portrait is still there and thousands of people flock to this little chapel to pray and honor this miraculous event.
The next morning, we began our drive along the coast of the Arabian Sea to a spa resort, considered one of the top 20 resorts in the world. We had a relaxing stay with boat rides on the lake at sunset and live entertainment. After our stay there we moved to a beach resort on the Arabian Sea on the southernmost tip of India.
We left the next morning for Chennai, formerly Madras, the fourth-largest city in India located on the Bay of Bengal. It is a large commercial and industrial center that is known for South Indian classical music and dance performances. The city’s Marina Beach, six miles in length, is supposedly one of the longest beaches in the world.
A major tourist attraction in Chennai is St. Thomas’s Basilica, built on the spot where St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus, was buried. According to legend, St. Thomas was one of the first Christians to reach India to preach Christianity. He reached Southern India in 52 A.D. and spent the last years of his life in a cave on the "The Little Mount." This is a rocky area where the apostle led a very spartan life, often praying on top of the hill and preaching to the crowd. St. Thomas was killed by an arrow because of his close association with the local king. As he was trying to escape, he leaned over the rocks and left his palm prints, which are still visible inside the cave. This was a very special moment for us – going back in time, being part of this wonderful historical period and experiencing a feeling of love and peace that permeated this special tomb. What a wonderful close to our trip to India.
On to Thailand
We left Chennai for Thailand, arriving the next morning in Chiang Mai via Bangkok to unwind and relax. We arrived at a spa and had some wonderful meditations and body work. Thailand has the best massage therapists in the world. They get to the root of the problem and really get all the kinks out of your body. We felt totally revived and rejuvenated.
The highlight of our trip to Thailand was a visit to a massive cave area about an hour from Chiang Mai containing Buddhist altars. According to legend, many Rishis (holy men) from the Himalayas came to the caves for solitude and meditation. We then visited a Buddhist Temple nearby where a Buddhist saint lies in state; his body, which has not decayed, lies in a glass coffin. This saint reportedly had miraculous healing powers. We were fortunate to receive a blessing from a monk whose cancer was healed when he was 20 years old. Now in his eighties, he is the present abbott of the monastery. The monk was so full of love and grace, a really beautiful and gentle soul. He gave us some fruit and a protective mantra to carry with us for our journey.
Visiting the tomb of Kruba Dhamachai, the healing saint, was a phenomenal experience. When we took a picture of his body, a beam of light appeared just above his heart area. We explored a private temple, a museum with all the saint’s memorabilia. I could feel my heart almost explode with this permeating energy. I had to sit down on a bench in this temple to integrate this energy. I often feel the presence of Kruba Dhamachai when I am meditating – what a blessing! This was truly a journey of discovering self, for which I am more than grateful to spirit.