JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic
Go to Home Page
Go to Home Page
Radio Sai Home Page


Previous Articles In This Series

"In the beginning of time, God created the wonders of the world. When he was finished, however, he saw that he had many leftover pieces. He had parts of rivers and valleys, of oceans and lakes, of glaciers and deserts, of mountains and forests, and of meadows and hills. Rather than to let such beauty go to waste, God put them all together and cast them to the most remote corner of the earth. This is how Chile was born."

- A Chilean Legend

Charismatic Chile - Bountifully Blessed

It’s amazing how this long thin narrow strip of land which streches 4630 kms north to south but is only 260 miles in its widest point east to west is packed with some of nature’s stunning treasures.

From the highest volcano in the world to the world’s southern-most city to one of the most isolated and intriguing isles on this planet; from the driest place on earth to the wettest place in South America; from one of the highest geyser fields in the world to mind-boggling rock and sand formations; from world-renowned vineyards to flamingo filled lakes; enormous glaciers to awe-inspiring mountains; the highest peaks in the Americas to rich untamed forests; the finest agricultural lands to captivating National Parks; world-class ski resorts to hotsprings and unbeatable beaches – the astonishing landscape of Chile is all this and much more.


A map of Chile

A land of great beauty and even greater contrasts, Chile, the longest north-south country in the world with its southwest coast covering roughly the same distance between Edinburgh and Baghdad is truly a natural inspiration. The country is located along the Pacific coast of South America, and is bounded by Peru in the north, by Bolivia and Argentina in the east, and by the Pacific Ocean in the west and the south.

And it is a non-stop exciting journey as one moves from region to region of this fascinating country.

The alluring Atacama desert
Dazzling cornfields
The steaming geysers at El Tatio
Llamas at the Lauca national park

Northern Chile – Bewildering Beauty

Northern Chile is a land of extreme contrast, where two uniquely Andean environments, Altiplano and the Atacama Desert, combine with unpredictable and overwhelmingly beautiful results. While the vast and striking Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world (which has some parts where no precipitation has ever been recorded!), Altiplano is the most extensive area of high plateau on earth outside of Tibet. It receives some tropical rains in January and February and altitude, rather than aridity, is the limiting factor governing life on this airy plateau. Only the hardiest and most highly specialized flora and fauna survive in the vagaries of life at a staggerring 12,000 ft. The breathtaking barren landscape of the north extends from the coast to the Andes, where lovely snowcapped peaks tower above the desert, presenting a unique contrast. The meandering Loa River here is its only perennial stream.

The amazing Altiplano plateau
Chilean Flamingos in their element
Condors of the Andes, masters of the skies
Alapacas grazing in the Andes

This northern part, at the same time, is a mineral rich region too – blessed with one of the world’s largest copper reserves (Chuquicamata). It is not only the burgeoning trade in minerals but also its many ports, where a variety of goods from Asia are distributed to neighboring countries, which has kept its economy always buoyant. And add to this the tourists, whose number is only rapidly increasing, thanks to its beautiful Andean-range mountains, salt lakes on their high plateau, filled with unique species of Pink Flamingos and Condors and animals like Llamas, Alpacas and Guanacos. Northern Chile is prosperous, beautiful and serene, all at the same time.

Another view of the Atacama desert
Chuquicamata copper mine

Moon on Earth!

But we are not done with Northern Chile yet. There is another fascinating and oft visited place in this region which is extraordinarily attractive by its similarity with the moon surface and natural coliseo of great dimensions. Aptly known as “the Moon Valley” and wonderfully formed by the natural forces of the encounter of the Atacama desert with the Andes mountain range, this region is, infact, a slice of the moon surface, complete with interesting sand and stone formations, absolutely majestic in its silence, bereft of plant or animal life. It is imposing yet beautiful, especially in the twilight hours when the Sun makes escarpments of green, blue, red and yellow colors with the most diverse and surprising forms. This is the place NASA tests vehicles designed for Martian or Lunar grounds.

It is like walking on the moon
Paranal Observatory framed by the moon

Santiago - Stunning and Booming

Coming to the central region of this country, it is a different feel altogether with a pleasant Mediterranean type of climate. More than half the country’s population live here. Santiago, the capital city of six millions inhabitants, is a bustling city and quite modern: new highways pass under the river that runs through it while tunnels and fast roads crisscross the city. The underground transport system is a spick-and-span system known for its efficiency and moderate cost. The omnipresent Andes are the backdrop for the city. The amazing feature of this place is that within one hour you can be at the office, skiing at one of the many ski resorts or resting at a beach by the Pacific Ocean!

Santiago embraced by the Andes
Skyscrapers and massive mountains
Plaza in Concepcion
The sanctity of Santiago cathedral

With its fertile soils, and political as well as economic stability, this middle portion of the country, is the nation's most populous and productive region and as a consequence, the country’s political and cultural center. It contains Chile's largest cities - Santiago, Valparaiso (the seat of the Chilean congress), and Concepción. Understandably, the regional headquarters of many international enterprises have their headquarters here. This highly industrialized section of Chile produces a large variety of quality manufactured products and is abundant in mineral deposits like copper, coal, and silver. Besides, its myriad rivers, principally the Bío-Bío, have been harnessed to generate electricity making hydroelectricity responsible for 70% of Chile's power. Between the Andes and the Coast Ranges is the Vale of Chile, a long valley divided into basins by Andean spurs. This is the heart of the republic, having the highest population density and the highest agricultural and industrial output.

Spellbinding South - Lakes, Volcanoes, forests, et al

Finally, the southern region of Chile which extends from the Bío-Bío River to Cape Horn is full of special natural attractions with a facinating mix of dense forests, heavy rainfall, snow-covered peaks, glaciers, and islands. Sections of this region, which is in the direct path of moist westerly winds, receive more than 100 in (254 cm) of precipitation annually.

The panoramic view from Cape Horn
The lake and volcano at Villarica

This southern region is blessed with an alpine-like climate and has many pellucid lakes and untouched wooded areas. Lake Villarica and its volcano of the same name, are part of this beautiful expanse; the volcano resembles Mount Fuji (Japan) because of its perfect shape. This area's most attractive feature is perhaps its unexplored and unmapped character. The road that traverses this region for more than a thousand kilometers, represents one of the greatest man-made attempts to exert some control in such an impossible territory. The Carretera Austral (southern road), starts in Puerto Montt, and after a thousand-kilometer journey, ends in Villa O' Higgins, a step away from the Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Ice Cap).

Also, Lakes Llanquihue and Todos los Santos are some of the many in the region which are surrounded by forests and beautiful cities. Immigrants during the 19th century, mostly from Germany, developed this area; one can still find a certain Germanic flavour in the southern cities, not only in their architectural style, but also in their excellent pastries like Strudel, Kuchen and many others delicacies, which can be found not only here but all over Chile.

Languid Lake Llanquihue
Untouched Chiloe Island

Because of subsidence of the earth's crust, the Coast Ranges and the central lowlands have been partially submerged, forming the extensive archipelago of South Chile, an area of craggy islands (notably Chiloé), numerous channels, and deep fjords. The Chilean Lake District is a noted resort area for thousands of visitors every year.

Caburga Lake in the Lake District
The busy port of Valdivia

Although all of Southern Chile is forested, only the drier northern part has exploitable timber resources; Puerto Montt and Temuco are major timber-handling centers. The rest of the region is a wilderness of mid-latitude rain forest, which has been extensively logged. Because of the climate, agriculture is limited but livestock raising (cattle and pigs) is an important activity. A portion of extreme Southern Chile lies in the rain shadow of the Andes and is covered by natural grasslands. Here, extensive sheep grazing is found, with wool, mutton, and skins, being the chief products. Interestingly, this area also yields petroleum. Valdivia, a port on the Pacific Ocean, is the fourth largest industrial center of Chile. And the world's southernmost city, Punta Arenas, is found here, on the Strait of Magellan.

Patagonia’s Incredible Torres del Paine

From Campo de Hielo Sur (the southern ice-cap) to the Chilean Antarctic Territory , is one of the most spectacular areas of the planet. Among all the attractions, the Torres del Paine peaks are, undoubtedly, one of the most popular, and deservedly so, due to their incredible scenery and wealth of possible activities for the visitor, such as climbing, hiking and photography. This is a land of lagoons, lakes, glaciers and snowcaps, as well as a great variety of species endemic to Chile. Reaching up from the massif stand the Torres y Cuernos (towers and horns) which give the park its name and pose challenges for climbers from all over the world.

The breathtaking Torres del Paine
More views of Torres del Paine

Enigmatic Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Isle

Another must-see for visitors here is Easter Island, with its famous giant monoliths called Moai statues which stand several meters tall and provide an intriguing archeological mystery. This is one of the most isolated places on earth and part of the Rapa Nui National Park of Chile’s oceanic territories. The natives call this land ‘Te Pito te Henua’ which means ‘the Navel of the World’.

In the Chilean-controlled Juan Fernández archipelago of this region, Robinson Crusoe is the largest island. Named so by the Chilean government after it was made world famous by Daniel Defoe’s eponymous classic novel, this island along with two others are recognized World Biosphere Reserves because of the endemic species of flora and fauna. Red humming birds, spiny lobsters and scuba diving are some of the few things which draw people to this interesting island every year in hundreds and thousands.  

The mysteries of Easter Island
The paradise of Juan Fernandez Island

Chileans – A Race of Sterling Character

Just like its “out-of-this-world” natural beauty, the people of Chile too are splendid. Friendly and hospitable, Chileans are a resilient race having endured serious earthquakes (among the world’s strongest at 9.8 Richter in the Lakes Region) and in times of need, it is all one big family. No wonder, their economy is strong, law trustworthy and education given high importance. This land has produced great poets, among them two Nobel Prize winners, Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971).

The majority of Chile's population is mestizo (a result of frequent intermarriage between early Spanish settlers and indigenous inhabitants), with Spanish being the official language. Traditionally a Catholic nation, 70% of its population belong to the Church and it is blessed with two saints - Saint Teresa de los Andes and Saint Alberto Hurtado. So how and when did Sai enter this multi-faceted and charismatic land? This story too, just like everything else about this country, is no less captivating.

Sai Reaches Out...


At a beautiful place near the capital Santiago called “Cajon del Maipo” sit the slopes of the Cordillera de los Andes, the famous mountain range that stretches for thousands of kilometers with its beautiful massive white, snow-covered mountains, valleys and rivers crawling like serpents, and old trees witnessing the beauty and peace. And this is the fitting setting where the Sai Movement in Chile began.

Enrique Garrido was a young lad, and in spite of him being just seventeen, spirituality fascinated him a lot. He was in a cabin his family had in these sylvan surroundings. One room was lent to a hermit, called Pablo, who had taken the vow of silence. This ‘silent hermit’, gave Enrique a copy of “Prema Vahini” (Swami’s treatise on divine love), in his own handwritten Spanish translation. Enrique thought it had to be something very special, for the hermit to leave his routine of meditation and spiritual practices and take the trouble of translating this book. He says:

Cajón del Maipo

“When I was reading this handwritten book I got the feeling, the sensation that God was speaking to me through this book, it was very real, God’s presence was very real for me at that time. Communicating through a handwritten piece of paper, I wrote to Pablo about my experience and feelings on reading this book. He answered me, also in writing, that he would speak to me next afternoon under an ancient almond tree, at 5 pm.

At the appointed hour, under the big tree, the hermit broke his silence vow (at least for this day) and said: ‘Sai Baba is God; He is the only one in this age capable of liberating anyone.’”

This was 1978, certainly a special day for Chileans. Who could imagine Sai Baba’s divine plan would include this far away land? This is as far as you can get from Prashanti Nilayam! But for Swami as He has often said, the whole world is His house and countries are only different rooms therein - so He was just going from one room to another!


Beautiful Beginnings

Coming back to the story, from then on, Enrique started dreaming repeatedly of Sai. “In dreams, Sai taught me Bhajans, how to sing correctly! He took me to a classroom, sat down and taught me the tones and pronunciation, that is how I learned Chitta Chora Yashoda Ke Bal…I went back to my family in the city of Villa Alemana, about 110 kilometers from the Capital. There I started weekly spiritual meetings, bhajans, meditation and rigorous fasting once a week.”

Enrique maintained correspondence with Arlette Meyer, a translator from Venezuela and it was she who suggested contacting John Hislop who gave official sanction for the first centre in Chile in 1980.

A similar mystical means of communication reached Bernardo who was a Rosicrucian follower (an esoteric order with its roots in the western mystery tradition). Once, when meditating, a ‘Guru of dark complexion’ appeared in his meditation. He was puzzled but the Guru appeared again and motioned to follow Him. Who was He? Finally he recognized the master on the cover of the book “Sai Baba and the Psychiatrist”. Bernardo soon joined the newly founded Sai group in the city of Villa Alemana located in the province of Valparaiso.

He Draws His Instruments…

Sai’s divine masterplan had begun unfolding. Later in Santiago, it was now the turn for Julio Vejar to become Baba’s instrument. Julio was a young Buddhist studying Philosophy at the prestigious University of Chile. On a regular basis he received spiritual literature from Canada, but this time the parcel coming from abroad changed his life!

He received a parcel containing books on Sai and some Vibhuti and after reading these books his enthusiasm grew to a point where he was keen on knowing more about Sai, and so he asked his friend in Canada to send more information.

Another parcel came with more Sai books, and these only increased his “Sai” thirst. This “Sai”-thirst was contagious, his fiancé Soledad (now his wife) and friends too longed for more information about Sai. “I felt Baba´s presence everywhere, all the time”, says Soledad.

 In 1983, Julio and Soledad, now husband and wife, traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina on their honeymoon. They visited several areas of the city and on one occasion, while on a local bus, Julio suddenly decided to get out. When they stepped down on the sidewalk, he saw a small poster about a Sai centre! As soon as they got back to the hotel, he called the number published on that notice and was told that the next day a meeting was going to be held there.

The following day they arrived at the Sai centre and met Mr. Leonardo Gutter, who has been helping to spread the message of Bhagavan in Latin America. He gave them the movie “The Aura of Divinity” and suggested they should form a Centre in Santiago. Neither Leonardo nor Julio then knew about the Sai centre in Villa Alemana in Chile.

The Spanish version of My Baba and I


They returned to Santiago and a few months later on 21 August 1983 the Sai centre of Santiago officially opened its first meeting. This centre functioned in the house of Hanni Horowitz and a few devotees assisted at this event, who would further on play significant roles in furthering Swami’s teachings and message. Tomas Herrera was one of them, who later began the first internet site on Sai Baba in Chile (

Ms. Herta Pfeifer also participated at this inauguration. She had first heard about Sai in 1979 from Mr. Basil Pitt, High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago in Canada , whom she met in the city of La Paz , Bolivia. He gave her the first book about Baba, “Man of Miracles” by Howard Murphet, which she translated immediately. She then started to translate Sai literature into Spanish and has produced more than 100 books, innumerable speeches, discourses, daily thoughts and much more. During her first interview, Sai told her about His Will that she should “translate for Latin people” as He put it. She has done so ever since.

Herta Pfeifer, Sergio, Soledad and Julio

Corali Balsera, a devotee residing in USA brought books, music and gifts for the newly created centre. She also was the instrument in bringing the news of another Sai centre in Chile, only 110 kilometers away. The two centres visited each other and exchanged books and news, this was the ‘pre-internet era’. But divine love followed in different ways attracting more people every day.

It so happened that one gentleman by name Sergio, participated in a radio programme speaking about Sai Baba and the healing powers of Vibhuti. Next Thursday, after the ceremony ended, a gentleman told him that in a few days he was going to undergo surgery due to a severe case of stomach ulcers. The gentleman also said he had listened to the radio programme and decided to give the Vibhuti a try. Sergio told him that Vibhuti was miraculous, but that at the end everything depended on Baba and one’s faith. He instructed the gentleman, ‘You can drink it with water every morning’.

Next Thursday this same gentleman came, and Sergio saw that he was a changed man – all his worried frowns had gone and he looked relaxed and happy. He told Sergio that on the last medical examination before the scheduled surgery the doctors had seen that his ulcers were gone! The doctors could not believe it, but admitted that there was no reason to operate anymore! It was an incredible healing from God and they felt so fortunate and blessed.

Panamanian Present

With more people coming in, the Sai Centre of Santiago moved from smaller to bigger locations and at one point of time, the devotees were renting a house in a street called Seminario. The owner of this building decided to sell the house, but the devotees were in no position to buy, even if they wanted to do.

By His mysterious will, this time it was a Panamanian devotee who came to their rescue. Full of love and gratefulness for God as his son in Panama was liberated after being kidnapped just then, this noble gentleman traveled to Chile, attended Sai bhajans and later donated the entire money required to buy the house. This is how the Sai Centre of Seminario was born.

This house of Sai has witnessed many Akhanda Bhajans, EHV activities, and holds free lunches every Sunday where more than 50 people receive food in a harmonious setting. Many senior and elderly devotees like Dr. Sara Pavan, Dr. Voleti, John Behner and Leonardo Gutter have visited this centre and shared Swami’s love on several occasions.

Apart from this, there are two more centres in the capital city of Santiago and also in Viña del Mar and Quilpue, both in the vicinity of the Valparaiso, the country’s cultural capital. There are Sai groups also in cities like Iquique in Northern Chile, Puerto Varas in the South, Talagante in Central Chile and in La Serena, the second oldest city located 470 kms north of Santiago.

The Sai centre of Condell in the province of Santiago hosts a free lunch on Saturdays which is one of their happiest activities: many come to enjoy the meal and good company, peace and love. Some of the attended upon are paper and cardboard collectors and now one can see their smiles and also Swami’s picture or an Om symbol adorning their tricycles.

Meeting of the Sai centre of Quilpue

This centre was located in a big house where many Sai brothers and sisters came together in satsangs, study circles and to receive many experienced visitors who shared about Swami’s love and His mission. But they have had their lot of challenges too. Unfortunately, they do not have the big house anymore but their perseverance and faith has only grown. They know Sai always has a plan and they love Him more each day because He never ceases to amaze them. Take the case of Lucy.

Light for Lucy

Lucy had many problems in her life; smoked heavily, drank alcohol and ate meat. She was about to cross a street when she saw a fortune-teller. She approached her and started asking about her trade. “Does this come from India ?” asked Lucy. The person started explaining that fortune-telling had nothing to do with India ... and from there somehow the conversation turned to Baba. This happened on a Thursday and it ended with Lucy being invited to a Sai meeting. “As soon as I stepped into the Centre everything seemed to have a kind of brilliance, I was amazed. From that moment on, smoking was not attractive anymore; the same happened with drinking and meat eating! I wanted to quit every bad habit! Baba made it happen in just a few minutes. My love, my life, is not mine anymore - it is His. It is like having a new life again - thank you Swami!” says Lucy today.

One can only stand stupefied in wonder reading about such instantaneous transformations! And beautiful instances like this were happening everywhere in Chile .

He Introduces Himself to Many More…


In Viña del Mar, the beautiful coastal city, we mentioned that there is a Sai centre. But there is something more unique going on here. Right in the middle of a small pine forest there is a small cabin, from which on every Thursday one can hear bhajans accompanied by an Andean instrument (“palo de agua” - a hollow piece of cactus with small stones inside and nails on the inner walls and closed ends. Whenever the cactus “stick” is turned, it makes a sound like a river slowly carrying thousand of pebbles.)

Most of the devotees are teenagers; they sing bhajans with lots of energy and zest. On Mondays they lovingly serve meals to needy people at the nearby port of Valparaiso, and this is something which has been going on for several years now.

The lovely Vina del Mar

In another Sai Centre, in the city of Quilpue, (called by locals “Sunny City” because it has more sunny days than Valparaiso, its nearest big city) on a Saturday morning while a group of devotees were chanting a series of 108 Gayatri mantras, suddenly something unexplainable happened. One of them was keeping count on a japamala, and almost at the end of the 108th round, a bead materialized out of thin air and fell onto the floor. Now there were 109 beads…the ways the omnipresent Swami makes His presence felt are unfathomable.

All these experiences of Sai which increased as the days passed by not only brought more people to the centres but it also resulted in the Centres expanding their activities and trying to make a positive difference in the local community. One such thing that took shape was EHV – the all important Education in Human Values programme. And how Swami brought instruments for this work too is fascinating.

The materialised japamala bead

Manuel, a very enthusiastic devotee, never missed an opportunity to speak about Baba, be it in a bus or any place. Once, Marisol, a lady living in La Serena, was riding in a bus when Manuel, who happened to be sitting next to her, started talking about Baba. Marisol says, “Normally I don’t talk to strangers, but this time something made me listen to this gentleman. What he said was very interesting, he was very well prepared; he opened a small business briefcase and started pulling photocopies and pictures of Baba. He invited me to a Thursday meeting. As soon I got home, I went through all the reading material and then saw the picture he had given me. I noticed it was covered with dust. I cleaned it and after a while the same ‘dust’ covered the picture of Baba again. It puzzled me. Only in the Thursday meeting, I learned that this strange ‘dust’ was Vibhuti and Baba’s calling card.” This was enough to instill faith in Marisol and soon she became involved with Sai activities and later on did a lot of work on EHV.

EHV – Heralding a Glorious Chile

350 kilometers north of Santiago lies the city of La Serena and on the outskirts of the city one can hear tender and soft voices intoning omkars. This is no hermitage of spiritual aspirants, it is the Sai School of La Serena. On March 2003 Antonio Bustamante and Diana Wagner, with lots of effort and perseverance opened the first Sai school in Chile . Many devotees, including Mr. J. Jagadeesan from Malaysia, attended the inauguration ceremony. It started with only one grade and 9 students. Each year another grade was added. Also the Sai Institute started in this same year, which trained many teachers and held many EHV courses and workshops. God’s work is beautiful and fulfilling but never easy. The school has had many ups and downs, and is now temporarily closed, but the devotees’ perseverance and love for Sai remain undiminished.  

La Serena school children
All the children at the school

Many sweet experiences happened in this Sai school. One day a bird entered the classroom, flew into a glass window and fell to the floor. The children surrounded the bird and the teacher told the children to pray and send lots of love to the little winged being. Holding each others’ hands they prayed with all their hearts, in their pure childlike love. Suddenly, to their joy and amazement, the bird shook itself and flew away. As the bird flew away, the kids rejoiced. It was a great lesson in love.

Betty, the director of the school, said that during a recess she noticed a small child sitting on the office steps, with his face in his hands. Thinking the little one is probably disturbed for some reason and needed help, she went to him and enquired with concern, “What’s the matter, dear one?” The sweet child answered lovingly, “Aunty, I am talking to God”. If more and more Chilean children do what this little one was doing (and they surely will), the future of Chile is surely more glorious than what can be imagined now.  


They Feel Him All the Time

This land, as somebody said, is as far as one can be from Prashanti Nilayam, from the physical presence of the Avathar, but for God distance is no barrier. Only a microscopic minority from Chile would have seen the Lord in person, yet their faith is exemplary. It is really amazing how the Lord touches everybody’s hearts and cleanses them so that He can reflect more clearly in their personalities. On a visit, Dr Sara Pavan told them: “This sacred Sai organization is like a washing machine, everybody has to go through a cleaning process” - that is surely so. For, without the hammer and heat, the gold cannot shine.

Sometimes, their urge to be in the Lord’s physical presence is so great. On one occasion a group of devotees felt so anxious to be at the first Athi Rudra Maha Yagna that was being held in Prasanthi Nilayam, that they prayed, got together everyday and eagerly downloaded every bit of information related to the Yagna. On the first day of the Yagna they got up before 5 am so they would be ready to chant and pray when the ceremony started in Prashanti, considering the time difference. Omnipotent Swami, at 5 am sharp, sent three huge lightning flashes and thunderbolts and then an incredible rain shower that lasted only for 20 minutes. Then the sky cleared and a bright moon shone as if nothing had happened. Lightning and heavy downpours are quite unusual events in that area. Everybody there felt Swami’s presence as if to say: “I am with you, and you are with Me in this Yagna.”

Swami's saying in Spanish

These sorts of mind-boggling experiences and many others are deeply embedded in the devotees’ hearts: love for SAI is ever present, it might be the Lord’s way of saying, ‘I am in you, always, for ever and ever, wherever you are, in Chile , Prashanti or anywhere.’

- Heart2Heart Team

Dear Reader, did you find this article helpful? Would you like us to continue this series? Please tell us at mentioning your name and country.  Thank you for your time.

You can write to us at :      
Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
Best viewed in Internet Explorer - 1024 x 768 resolution.