by Tilak S. Fernando in London

LOVE all, Serve all, RESPECT all Religions and faiths, for they are all different paths to the SAME GOAL. You do not need to change your faith to follow me. Follow the truths of your religion and be a better Buddhist, a better Christian, a better Muslim or whatever” - SAI BABA

According to a prophesy in one of the oldest Sanskrit scriptures in the world ‘Upanishads’, It is said that a world teacher (Avatar) would come on earth during this age of Kali Yuga, to ‘undo’ the human being who has ‘gone beyond animal level’ and ‘ to remake him’. This theory is being focussed by millions of people in the world over the last seventy seven years since the birth of Sai Baba on 23 November 1926. Many attach this prophesy to Sri Sathya Sai Baba who has become the latest legend ever since and carried forward to the 21st Century on earth.

On 23 November 1926 Sathya Narayana was born to a very pious family in a remote part of India in Andra Pradesh, only a stone’s throw away from civilisation. The Sathya Narayana has a meaning as ‘the upholder of truth. Thousands of books written today in many languages reveal that His advent was heralded by Divine music and numerous other favourable omens which indicated a ‘Divine’ Birth. As early as 7 years of age, He has been displaying his manifested exceptional qualities of wisdom by composing hymns, writing religious songs, lyrics and scripts for religious drama. He was vegetarian from birth, and had refused to eat meat or fish. Few years later his miraculous powers were seen through materialisation of objects, sweets, fruits, flowers etc., out of thin air, by the mere wave of His hand. At the age of ten, He expounded the Vedas (Hindu scriptures) to learned pundits much to their surprise.

At the age of 14, he announced to his parents and villagers about his Divine Mission on earth stating: “I am no longer your Sathya. I am Sathya Sai Baba (‘Holy Mother & Holy Father’). My Mission is to make man aware of the Divinity within himself. My people are calling me. I must go.” His full power and glory then began to blossom out where he was able to transcend the dimensions of space and time to bless the spiritual seekers and sufferers in far off places, even across the seas.

According to the Upanishads, Lord Vishnu had prophesied some 5600 years ago that, He would take a human body once again ( referring to this Kali age) and it would take him 250 years, through three incarnations ( Shirdi, Sai and Prema Baba) to guide the present day man towards the right path. Research into how three incarnations work has revealed that at the beginning, the first of the Triple Incarnation was headed by Shirdi Sai, who lived from 1835 to 1918. Shirdi Avatar’s function was to reveal his Divinity. He was sleeping one night inside a church hall and the next night inside a mosque; he was engaged in uniting the Moslems and Christians together. He predicted to his close disciples the exact day he would ‘ take-off’ from his human body in the year 1918 and how He would take birth after 8 years, again in India as Sai Baba.

True to His words, exactly after 8 years of his passing away, Sai Baba was born on 23 November 1926 as the second incarnation to fulfil the prophesy of the triple incarnation. The final incarnation to complete this prophesy, according to Sai Baba, is going to be the birth of Prem Sai, when he completes 98 years on earth - i.e. in 2024. Prem Sai is supposed to give the ‘final touch’ on man to bring his awakened innate Divinity to its ultimate fruition. Giving a prophetic view to his next incarnation (Prem Baba), Sai has already materialised a ring to American devotee, Dr. Hislop with the portrait of Prem Sai which thousands, if not millions of devotees have seen it.

What is an Avatar? In Hindu scriptures it is defined as ‘an incarnation of Divinity in human form or the descend of God on earth’. This is more so prominently explained in the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ where it states that ‘whenever there is decline in Dharma (righteousness) an Avatar’s mission is to appear in the world of man to eradicate evil and establish Dharma’. It is, therefore, believed among millions of Sai devotees around the world today that Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s manifestation at the present time is purely to restore same through the revival of the powerful forces of truth and love.

Sai Baba’s miracles and acts have not been able to explain by the laws of science so far. His frequent materialisation of sacred ash (vibhuti) at the tip of his fingers is used as a healing aid of many ailments. To the many who flock to see Him and be physically near him, Baba is quoted as saying, “there is no need to follow me around to receive my Grace, for I reside in your heart. I expect you to follow my teachings.”

His basic teachings are simple to sustain but extremely hard to put into practice. The LOVE which is the basic thread that runs through all his teachings is sometimes simplified & arranged into four sentences viz: “Start the day with Love, spend the day with Love, end the day with Love and that is the way to God.”

Sai Baba’s message to man is to “Love all, serve all, respect all religions and faiths for they are all different paths to the same goal – God.” He emphatically states that one does not need to change one’s faith to follow Him, but to follow the truths of one’s religion and be a better Buddhist, a better Christian, a better Muslim or whatever, and practice harmony in thought, word and Deed. His greatest advice to man is to give up self-centredness and render selfless service to those in need. “Service to man is service to God. Get rid of your enemies such as ego, anger, pride, hatred, lust and jealousy and live the life of love. This is the Kingdom of God within man.”

To mankind to achieve its goal Sai Baba has established extensive educational programmes based on five human values, particularly to grind the young from their kindergarten to university level & to groom them to be ‘proper physical, intellectual and spiritual citizens’ of the future.

Sathya Sai Education Trust has built and staffed numerous primary schools, residential schools, colleges and a University at Prasanthi Nilayam (Baba’s Ashram). As part of his programme of service to mankind Sai Baba has built two Super Speciality Hospitals in Prasanthi Gram about five miles away from the Ashram and in White Field, Bangalore. These hospitals provide highly specialised treatment for the needy, free of charge. Since the opening of the first hospital in 1991, thousands of heart operations have been carried out in its Cardiac Unit. The Kidney Centre which was opened in November 1992 has treated thousands of patients and has expanded their capacity to deal with every kind of human diseases. The specialists who work in these hospitals go from all over India and from abroad to give their expertise, service and time completely free of charge - out of Love. The completion of the first hospital within one year (out of which 3 months were spent on designing) by a team of British Architects and the installation of most modern, up-to-date equipment in record time are seen as typical examples of how Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Divine Will translates thoughts into Deeds. The second project of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust for Super speciality hospital at Bangalore aims to ‘harness state–of–the art medical science for serving all sections of the population (anywhere in the world) including the very indignant”. It is designed to provide all modern services from diagnostic, operative to post operative care absolutely free of charge.

In 1947, when Sai Baba was barely 21 years old, he declared: “I have a task to foster all mankind and ensure for all of them life full of bliss. I have a vow to lead all who stray away from the straight path back to the fold.... You can see the full glory of it in the coming years.”

Over the last 77 years there has been no precedent in living memory of a single individual achieving so much in his life time like Sri Sathya Sai Baba has achieved. Yet the human nature is such, with all the evidence right in the forefront, criticism is bound to exist. To summarise it all in Sai Baba’s own words it would be appropriate to say on his 77th Birthday that, “No one, even God or Avatar, can ever escape criticism and blame. But they do not bend. They hold on to truth and Truth will not yield to threats”.