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Amazing Grace in Africa

By Mr. Jay Ravji Jethwa

Mr. Jay Ravji Jethwa is a barrister and lawyer of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia. He is also currently the National Vice-President of the United Nations Association of Australia.


The Light Shines in Africa

It was indeed a most fortuitous period for the "Dark Continent ", Africa. For Bhagavan, in His infinite mercy, had decided to set foot on the very soil that is regarded as the cradle of civilisation, and where humankind's ancestry can be traced. This event took place in July 1968, when Bhagavan spent two memorable weeks in Uganda, a country where I was born and raised. Uganda, a very beautiful and picturesque place once described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, is a country which is the source of the River Nile flowing out of Lake Victoria (the second largest fresh water lake in the world) which sustains many millions of people in countries ranging from Uganda all the way up to Egypt, where it empties itself in the Mediterranean Sea. It is indeed the lifeblood of most of Africa. The Creator was now putting the final lustre on this pearl by physically going there.

Bhagavan has not yet stated the reason for this Divine visit to Uganda. However, there are many conjectures. Did He go because of the love for His devotees living there? Did He go there to warn His devotees of the dangers they were to face in the coming years at the hands of the ruling military junta? Did He go there to plant as yet some unknown seed in Africa, which will blossom at some time in the future? The answer to these questions may be all of the above and more.

Africa, as a general rule, has been beset by many and varied problems, ranging from natural disasters such as drought and famine, to problems, associated with racial and ethnic disharmony. It appears that some of the latter problems worsened as most individual countries in the Continent gained independence from their colonial masters in the 1960s.

It was against this backdrop of strife and discontent that Bhagavan visited the Continent of Africa. It was the first and only time He had left India for an overseas visit. It is interesting to note that not long before His Divine visit to Uganda, Pope Paul VI became the first ever Pontiff to set foot on the African soil by also visiting Uganda.

A Childhood Blighted by Asthma

I was a very sickly 13 year-old boy in 1968. I had a very severe form of asthma since I was born. My father had sought expert medical advice from as far away as the United Kingdom, all to no avail.

One day in June 1968, Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, was abuzz with the news that "Bhagavan" was coming to town and that His name was Sai Baba. I had neither heard this name nor seen what He looked like. My Father, Ravji Kara, and my mother Urmilabhen, had made arrangements to take myself and stay for the duration of His visit.

Thousands Flock for Bhagavan’s Darshan

When we arrived at Dr. Patel's home at about 4 p.m, thousands of people of all races and colours had already gathered there. His car was to arrive at Dr. Patel's home at 6 p.m, but the motorcade was delayed en route from Nairobi in Kenya, where His plane had landed from Bombay .

It was not until 1.30 a.m. that the motorcade finally arrived. Bhajans had been going on all evening at the makeshift hall that had been erected by Dr. Patel at his residence where all the people were patiently waiting for their first encounter with Bhagavan. I was indeed very fortunate that the car Bhagavan was traveling in stopped right in front of me. As He alighted, I took my first ever glimpse of Him. And what a wonderful sight it was. He looked majestic in the golden robe He was wearing. I remember thinking that He looked quite unusual for an Indian.


Swami in car after arriving in Nairobi

Bhagavan had an immediate impact on my being. Just one look at Him made me feel completely confident that He was to "cure" my illness. My very young mind was also convinced that Bhagavan has come to Africa just for me! I knew I would never be the same again.

My illness had been so severe that I cannot ever recall having slept at night times. I remember my mother having to wake up at least a dozen times a night to give me medication for my difficult breathing.

A few days after His arrival in Kampala , on 7 July to be precise, without my parent's knowledge, I decided not to attend school that day, visiting Bhagavan instead to obtain His Darshan. When I arrived at Dr. Patel's home, there were already thousands waiting in the streets for precisely the same reason. I joined the crowds and waited patiently for Him.

Called to Grace

It wasn't long before He came out to the delight of all gathered there. I saw Him materialising vibhuti for some people, and also witnessed Bhagavan creating a watch for an African policeman standing at his post at the gates of Dr. Patel's home. He then approached me where I was sitting, and summoned me to get up and go to Him. This I did immediately. What follows is a personal account of the "miracle" I experienced all those years ago.

Swami handing out Prashad to His African Devotees
Darshan rounds in Africa

As I approached Him, He asked me, "How is your asthma?" I remember being very surprised at His knowledge of my illness. Before I could utter any words in response, He said, "Go" pointing towards the gates of Dr. Patel's home. He then walked right past me. Hesitatingly, I started walking towards the gates. There was a policeman at the gates (incidentally, the same policeman who had earlier received the materialised watch) who opened the gates for me. I entered the compound, and was asked by the sevadal to sit there until Bhagavan called me into the interview room.


The Healing Touch

It appeared that I waited for an eternity for Him to beckon me in. Whilst I was waiting, my young mind was going through all sorts of questions like: "What if something happens to me while I am inside?" "What is this large fuzzy-haired man going to do to me?" "What am I going to tell Him when I am inside?", "Am I going to be cured of my illness?" As all these thoughts were racing in my head, Bhagavan came out of the small door leading into the interview room and waved me go inside. Still quite nervous, I approached Him and He took me inside holding my hand.

The interview room was approximately 6m x 6m in size. As He greeted me in, He started telling me of my asthma, at the same time, 'acting' very similarly to when I was having one of my asthma attacks. He then invited me to enter another very small room that led out of the larger interview room. This room was barely big enough for the two of us. I entered this room first, and Bhagavan 'squeezed' in after me. We stood facing each other, barely six inches apart. I must admit that my heartbeat was now racing, and He must have sensed this, as He tried to relax me by saying some pleasantries.

As I looked up to His face, he opened His right hand palm and instructed me to "look, look, look" at it. I did what He asked, and after about 10 seconds, He said "touch, touch, touch." The palm was beautifully soft and dry. As I looked up to Him again, He asked me to keep look­ing at His palm. Within a few seconds, I witnessed droplets of liquid forming on His palm, completely fill­ing it up.

He asked me to remove my shirt, which I did immediately. He then rubbed the materialised liquid on my chest until all of it was absorbed into the skin.

Swami in the Interview Room
at Dr Patels Home

I was asked to put my shirt back on. We both then proceeded to very gently squeeze out of the small room. As I looked into His eyes, I experienced the feeling of love that I don't believe I had ever experienced before. It was a most wonderful moment of my short life.

He then gave me a few packets of vibhuthi, said many other things that I cannot now recall, and patted me on the back and said: "Go - no more asthma." These few magical words have always kept ringing in my ears since then. He led me out of the interview room, letting me undertake padanamaskaram.

“Mum, no more asthma!”

I remember running home after the interview (my home was merely 15 minutes walk from where Bhagavan was staying). I greeted my mum with biggest smile shout­ing: "Mum, I have just had an inter­view with Sai Baba and He said that I will never suffer from asthma again. Mum, I will never wake you up in the middle of the night to administer the medication again, and I will never have to see anther doctor again." I was truly ecstatic.

It has been 34 years almost to the day as I sit here in Sai Kulwant Hall in Prashanti Nilayam, writing this short account! – My direct experience of Bhagavan's sponta­neous expression of Divine Love. My asthma has deserted me completely. My wife Julie and I, and the rest of my whole family who all now reside in the United Kingdom, have been visiting Bhagavan in Prashanti Nilayam for many years now and we all constantly experience His Love and Divine Miracles in our daily lives.

“My methodology is love” - Swami

Professor N. Kasturi, in his book ‘The Light of Love’, giving a short account of Bhagavan's visit to Africa, said that at a question and answers session held in Kampala at the gathering of the Rotarians, Lions, lawyers, and doctors, Bhagavan was asked what the purpose was of His performing miracles, and whether it was good for people to know that the laws of nature can be broken. He replied that He does not per­form miracles. What we call miracles, He said, are just spontaneous evidences of His Divinity. He said that He has not acquired the power to perform these so-called mira­cles, nor does He exhibit them for demonstrating His Divinity. The expression of His love is a nidarsana or evidences of His Divine Power which induces one to take to the Godward path. He went on to say that "I do not set about to 'perform' what you call 'miracles'; It is My way of doing things, My way of expressing My love and grace."


Courtesy: Mathrubhumi’s Sai Jyothi, 2002

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Vol 5 Issue 07 - JULY 2007
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