Volume 10 - Issue 06
June 2012
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Posted on : June 24, 2012


From the Form to the Formless

Living in Harmony with the Divine Plan

By Ms. Nooshin Mehrabani


Ms. Nooshin Mehrabani was born in Iran and worked as a reporter for Iranian National Radio and Television. She continued her career with an Iranian TV station after moving to Los Angeles, USA. Since 1991, when she first heard about Sai Baba, she has made many trips to India and has been blessed with several chances of interaction with Bhagawan. She now lives in Puttaparthi which she calls as her 'home'. She has also authored the book “Love and Suffering” which is the telling story of her journey to Swami.

It is over a year since our Beloved Lord left His precious body. Every one of us deals with the shock and pain in a different way. I live in Puttaparthi, which for Sai devotees is like living at the center of the world. This past year, devotees from all over the world have come to pay their homage and respect to their loving Guru and God, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.


Some people have not been able to accept the fact that Swami departed from His body. There are many rumors among devotees passed on through the internet and by word of mouth about the return of our Swamiji with the same beautiful body, but healthy and strong. There are those who believe it with absolute conviction. I asked some of these people, when they think Baba would come back and why. I heard a few reasons. “Baba Himself has declared that He would live up to ninety-six years” is a favourite. Others feel that He has not finished His mission and so on.

I cannot find a meaningful answer in these explanations. Swami’s true form was and is LOVE. Attachment to the physical form of Sathya Sai Baba might have more emotion than devotion because true love doesn’t have any form.

All this has me think: what do we really know about Swami’s mission and the Divine Plan? That is God’s business. For those of us who are still here in a body, it seems that it is we who have not finished our mission. It is only by accepting, trusting and surrendering to His will, these searching questions stop popping up in our minds. Detachment is the first step in spirituality. We must ask ourselves if we practice this enough. How can we master detachment in material world if we cannot learn to accept the passing of the form of the Avatar? How can we ever surrender to His Will?

Swamiji took the body for eighty-five years and departed from His form only to save us and teach us, just like Jesus who went on the cross to save humanity. How many people realized that truth then? How many realize it now?

Swami Himself has said that no disease can ever get close to the body of the Avatar unless it is the sickness taken from one of the devotees. Baba, out of love and compassion, will do anything to protect His devotees and our planet. He also has a right to change His plan because of circumstances. It’s His plan and God, who resided and functioned in Sai’s body, knows what is best.

In twenty-one years as His devotee one teaching went to my heart immediately: “Ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ and then, through practice, you will find your true identity, which is not separate from God.” If we could realize our true identity, then it would be easy to know who Swami is. Living in the world of duality, sometimes we forget.

The first day when I saw Swami’s body inside the glass casket I asked Him: “Where are those shining eyes? Where is that beautiful smile and where are those raising hands to bless us?” It wasn’t more than a few seconds before a strong awareness filled my whole being. All of these - the shine, not the eyes; the beauty, not just the smile; the blessing, not the hand – belong to the Atma. They are not of the body. The Swami inside me added, “I left My body here for two and a half days for everybody to come and see that when the spirit departs from the body, what remains is only a corpse. This body was an instrument to play the role of Divinity.”

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I don’t blame my Sai brothers or sisters for the sadness they feel over Swami’s passing. God, through Sathya Sai Baba’s body gave us love, hope and happiness. The Omnipresent God is also in the five elements of this world - and our own body comes from these elements. Live or die, God is all pervasive and exists in everything. Trusting in that wisdom and in the all-knowing God who knows what is the best for His children and creation is what takes us from the form to the formless.

Swami came to teach us our true identity, not only to restore dharma, truth, love, peace and non-violence. If we want Swami to return in His same body, are we not like grown up children who know how to walk but still want a parent to carry us around?

Swamiji left us the treasure of His teaching, and whether He comes back with the same body or not, the teaching is eternally alive. By reading Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita, we experience love for Rama and Krishna and we haven’t even seen Them in this lifetime. Still we tune into Their teachings; we feel Their love and greatness. Any love for the physical world is bound to perish; the only permanent love is love of Atma. That is why it is wise not to attach to the temporary.

One of the last discourses that Swami gave was about the true identity of God. He said, “God doesn’t have any name, form or attribute. Nobody has seen God.” The connection with a form of God is temporary, but the memory stays with us. The connection with the energy that functions in the body stays with us to eternity. That is why God take a form, to rebuild our connection to that formless.

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We as devotees cannot limit God to one form. Christians say 'Jesus is the Lord', but they can never say 'the Lord is Jesus' because then they limit God to one form. All names and forms belong to the one and only formless God, the Atma or spirit which plays a role in every body. The names of Rama, Krishna and Sai Baba are assigned to forms which hold the Divine. The body goes, but the Divine energy lives on even now. Swami taught us that God never comes or goes; only the body is bound to birth and death.

I don’t like to feel that my Swami, who was God, is gone from my life. He still visits me in my dreams. He is busy manifesting many miracles for those who still need to see His omnipresence in the physical level. But keeping our relationship with our Guru and God alive is up to us. If we think Swami is dead then He doesn’t play part in our life any more because we feel He is gone for good. But if we believe He is the Eternal Truth and will always guide, protect and save us, then we shouldn’t be concerned if He is in a body or not. God is invisible and everywhere. God is capable of moving mountains and doesn’t need to be in the body to do it.

God could come back to the same body. But what does that prove? Do we need that? Sai Baba was the personification of Divinity. If we need Him to come back, perhaps we doubted His holiness and our own experience with Him. It is up to us as to how we interpret our relationship with Swami through self-enquiry. Strong faith and devotion can do unbelievable things. We must at least have that much confidence in ourselves. For some of us, it may be easier to pray for Him to come back than pray for elevation to a higher state of universal awareness. For me, all this concern over His physical return is just another leela Swami has created to test our faith, to see if we are ready for next step of seeing God everywhere, or if we want proof of divinity over and over again.

All the messengers or the Avatars of God come to earth for a certain period of time. They leave the truth of their teaching for us. But we believe in them even if we have never seen them. After two thousand years people still go to Jesus’ birthplace because they believe in Him. This era with Sai’s grace we have access to His audio, video and other discourses with His beautiful and soft voice. We don’t have to wait two thousand years. We have inherited all these treasures here and now, so we can be grateful of it and not waste any time. We can always connect with Swami through this if we wish.

Swami teaches that the secret to happiness is to live in the present, not past or future. By passing along all these rumors about Baba’s coming back we are doing the opposite of His teachings. We are not focusing on the present, trusting and leaving everything to Him.

the power of present the power of present the power of present the power of present the power of present the power of present the power of present the power of present

I remember a few years back I met an American devotee who shared with me a valuable story. One day he had an opportunity to ask Swami about the year 2050, when he had heard sun was to hit our planet and everything would be destroyed. Swami very swiftly answered him, “Why are you worried, you won’t even be here”. What a wonderful lesson! We are always worried about something even if it is not related to us.

Swami doesn’t want us to think of the past or worry about future. He never gave direct answers to satisfy our curiosity. He revealed things as He willed. Some devotees’ minds just cannot stay in the present. They go the extra mile to get information about Prema Sai’s birthplace or life. This is funny because God is always smarter than us. Swami may have mentioned about Prema’s birthplace but do we know when exactly will He reveal His Avatarhood? He may be born in that village, but may move to another place later. From within He is going to call His devotees to His presence. We only have to open our heart and empty our mind instead of filling it with unnecessary information and staying trapped in the duality of worldly life. If we live in the present, we can keep the mind under control and not worry if God doesn’t want to reveal His secret.

Swamiji said He doesn’t want us to walk behind or in front of Him. It is enough if give our hand to Him and walk with Him. He will make sure we receive all we need to know in the perfect time. Swamiji! We all love You dearly! But for myself I don’t pray for You to come back in the prison of the physical body, instead I pray for You to take me where I can merge with You, My Beloved. Jai Sai Ram.

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