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HIS VISITING CARDIn the previous article on the Avatar we mentioned that from time to time, swami gives us something called a visiting card. In simple worlds, he manifests a miracle. Swami often says that miracles are for 'nidarshana' i.e establishing divinity and not for 'pradarshana' i.e exhibition. He points out the role of a miracle in the overall scheme of his plan: first chamatkar, a miracle. Then sanskar, or refinement. Next comes, paropakar, or selfless service and finally saakshaatkaar or the ultimate vision of the Divine. That is, He attracts us through the miracles, refines our hearts and minds with His teachings, and prods us along the path of selfless service which leads us to self realisation.MIRACLE AT DWARAKA

So you see, He is like the doctor who gives us the visiting card. There is no use glancing at the card and praising its beauty and expressing awe at the credentials of the doctor. One has to approach him, get diagnosed, take the prescription, follow it and get cured of the disease!

The visiting cards of our Divine Doctor come in many varieties and colours. The list is endless…but we present to you a few of hem…

SHIVARATRI IN THE 70SIn the sixties and the seventies, this Shivarathri would draw unbelievably huge crowds because of the incredible vibhuti abhishekam [ceremonial vibhuti bath] that Baba performed, and the Lingodbhavam [bringing out the Lingam] that followed. Here are two accounts of the abhishekam, one by Kasturi who was privileged to participate in it, and another by Howard Murphet the Australian devotee who was simply stunned by the whole event.

Baba sometimes performs Abhishekam or ceremonial bath for the silver figure of His 'previous body' [i.e., the idol of Shirdi Baba], that is kept in the Mandir. A small wooden pot, artistically carved and painted, is filled with vibhuti for this purpose. Baba holds this pot upside down over the idol, puts His hand inside the pot and twirls it, so as to make the vibhuti flow evenly. Miraculously, the pot does not get emptied! The flow continues as long as His hand is inside, long after the original quantity has been exhausted. The twirling process brings down fresh showers of vibhuti, from the pot. When Baba withdraws His hand to switch over to the other one, the flow momentarily stops; but once the other hand is inserted, the flow resumes! This goes on till huge quantities of vibhuti have been poured on the idol, and the pile of vibhuti has mounted to unexpected heights.

N.Kasturi, in Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram, vol. I.

The following is an extract from the diary of Howard Murphet, quoted by him in his book Sai Baba - The Man of Miracles. The entry is dated 18th February, 1966.

On the stage is a large silver statue of Shirdi Baba in His characteristic sitting posture. Mr Kasturi takes up a small wooden urn about a foot in height, and filled with vibhuti. This he holds above the head of the silver statue, and lets ash pour over the figure until the urn is empty. He shakes it well to make sure that the last grains have fallen out, then continues to hold it above the statue with its open top downwards.

THE VIBHUTI ABHISHEKAM Now Sai Baba thrusts His arm as far as the elbow into the vessel and makes a churning motion with His arm as women did when making butter in the old days. Immediately, the ash begins to flow again from the vessel and continues to do so in a copious stream until He takes His arm out. Then the ash flow stops. Next He puts His other arm in and twirls that round. The ash streams out over the statue again. This process goes on, Baba using alternate arms, ash pouring from the empty vessel while His hand is in it, and stopping immediately He takes it out. Finally, Shirdi Sai is buried in a great mound of ash - much more than the vessel could possibly have held. Now the urn is placed on the ground; the miraculous, ceremonial ash-bath is over."

And finally find out what baba himself has to say about this event:

SACRED ASHThe vibhuti abhishekam has a potent inner meaning that Swami wants you to grasp. The vibhuti is the most precious thing in the truly spiritual sense. You know that Siva burnt and reduced to ashes Manmatha, the Lord of Desires or Kama. Manmatha is the one who disturbs and agitates the mind, compounding the confusion that already exists. After destroying Manmatha, Siva adorned Himself with the ash, standing gloriously as the Destroyer of Desires. When desire is annihilated, Love reigns supreme. When there is no desire to warp the mind, Love is seen in its pure form and in full bloom.

- Bhagavan Baba

If the vibhuti abhishekam was a stunning experience, the opportunity to witness the Lingodbhavam or bringing out the Lingam was an even greater sublime blessing. Let us first turn to Kasturi:

Since 1950, Sivarathri has been celebrated in Puttaparthi, and each year since the declaration of the manifestation, Lingams have materialised within His body. Baba has said that He often finds it difficult to postpone or prevent the formation of Lingams within Him.

Bringing out the Lingam is quite a painful affair, as Kasturi describes:

Baba gives Darshan during the evening, and then begins His Discourse. In between, there are spasmodic struggles in the stomach. He continues with the Discourse until the region of the struggle changes to the upper part of the chest and the neck. He seems to be undergoing some kind of a physical tension, and suddenly, to the joyous wonder of all, Lingams fall from His mouth. …. The Lingams that emanate on successive Sivarathris differ in number, size and composition…..

And now, over to Murphet for his description of what he saw. Once again, it is from his diary entry.

But the big climax of the day was yet to come, and many people talked to me about it. They told me that every year, one or more Siva Lingams have materialised in Baba's body at this sacred period. He ejects the Lingams through His mouth for all to observe. They are always hard, being made of crystal clear or coloured stone and sometimes of metals like silver or gold.

"Are you sure He does not pop them in His mouth just before He goes on stage, and then eject them again at the right moment?" I asked.

My hearers looked at me with amusement and pity. One of them said, "He talks and sings for a long time before the Lingam comes out, and it is always much too big to hold in the mouth while speaking. Last year, it was so large that He had to use His fingers to pull it out through His lips, and it stretched them so much that the sides of the mouth bled." Another one added, "There were nine one year. Each was about an inch and a half in height. Imagine holding all those in your mouth while you talked for an hour!"

The Lingam is the transitional link between the form-less and the form aspects of Godhead. The emergence of the Lingam represents the Emergence of the Cosmos from the Formless. ….. Do not exaggerate the creation and the manifestation of the Lingam from Me. In Me who can create the worlds and fill the Universe, there are things more worthy of adoration, that is Universal Love.

- Bhagavan Baba

Year by year, the size of the Sivarathri crowd began to increase until it became almost impossible to manage. And then in 1977, Baba suspended the Lingodbhavam. Twenty two years later, out of compassion for the devotees, He revived the Lingodbhavam; on 15th February, 1999, He brought out the golden Lingam, Hiranyagarbha. He did likewise in the years 2000 and 2001 also. SHIVARATRI I999

The vibhuthhi abhishekam and the lingodbhavam were two miracles which were witnessed by a large number of fortunate people. There others which baba perfomed in privte gatherings…one such unique visiting card was given in Dwaraka, the holy city built by lord Krishna….

In May 1968, Baba went to the princely state of Jamnagar, in response to the prayers of the Prince, the Jamsaheb and his consort, popularly known as the Rajmata. Jamnagar forms a part of the present Gujarat State, and is famed for its many holy places such as Dwaraka, the city built by Krishna, and Somnath where the famous Siva Temple was repeatedly raided for its wealth by invading hoards and tribals from Afghanistan.

Swami arrived in Jamnagar from Bombay on 14th May by a chartered plane, and on the following day left for Dwaraka [the city built by Krishna], accompanied by the members of His party, other devotees and the Rajmata [Queen Mother] of the erstwhile Princely State of Nawanagar. ….. The residents of Dwaraka and Sai devotees from other towns packed every inch of available space in the Krishna Temple, long before Baba arrived. While Baba could easily enter the Temple, the others were pushed, crushed, jostled, and squeezed. Seeing the plight of those who came with Him, Baba came out and drove away.

While returning to Jamnagar in the evening, Baba suddenly said, "Look! The sea is here!" The cars stopped. The party went to the beach where after strolling for some time, everyone sat down on the sand. Baba then heaped the soft sand to a height of about half a metre in front of Him, putting all into a state of extreme expectancy. He then flattened the heap, and drew a pattern on it. "It is ready', He said, wiping the sand from His hands. He then dug His hands deep into the pile and drew forth a bright golden image of Krishna approximately 25 cm high. It was the image of Krishna playing the flute, the very acme of goldsmith's art and craftsmanship. "You did not get the Darshan of Krishna in the Temple; have it now!" He said. For devotees, it was a moment of supreme ecstasy.

Did you like these visiting cards of His? Preserve these visiting cards in your heart and call on Him whenever necessary. He is always ready, waiting to attend on you!


Volume 01: PDS / 06 Date : NOV 15 2003