Volume 13 - Issue 09
September 2015
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Posted on: Sept 25, 2015


A tribute to Arthur and Poppy Hillcoat

Part 01


Play the role He has assigned and have fun. All that is, is perfect - Arthur Hillcoat
Love is not something that is apart. Love is your own true nature - Poppy Hillcoat


Arthur and Poppy Hillcoat were Sathya Sai Baba's World Ambassadors of Love. They shared the blessing of their many years of proximity to Sathya Sai Baba and their profound understanding of His teachings with so many people who didn’t have that opportunity across Australia, where they lived, and in many other parts of the world too.

Arthur started his work life in Brisbane Ports moving up the line to eventually hold a management position, and completing his education with a university degree. Poppy’s work-life started in a bank in Melbourne and later she became a business partner running a restaurant in that city. Their combined professional experience was useful in their later work together in the Sathya Sai Organisation. Poppy eventually moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland, an hour south of Brisbane. She was drawn to visit Sathya Sai Baba, when her first husband John became seriously ill and was mostly confined to a wheelchair. They joined a group of devotees going to visit Baba in the early 1980s and Arthur was the group leader. Thus began the friendship between Poppy and her family with Arthur. By the time John passed away, Poppy’s spiritual journey was in full motion. She was a stalwart of the Sai group that blossomed on the Gold Coast, later joining Arthur as Secretary of the Brisbane Sathya Sai Baba Centre in 1983, with Arthur as its first Chair. She was also one of those who worked selflessly to assist the fledgling Central Council (now known as National Council) find its feet in growing Swami’s mission in Australia.

Arthur became the inaugural Chair of the Central Council, Sathya Sai Organisation Australia in 1986 and he held this post until 1990. He was tasked to unite the Sathya Sai centres and groups, which had been operating independently, under the umbrella of the Central Council. Ian Abrahams, Secretary of the Central Council during Arthur’s term of office recalls those days:

“During his five years as Chair, Arthur created enormous goodwill amongst all affiliated Centres and Groups, in which the Central Council functioned with love. Thanks to his commendable efforts, the number of members and activities saw a rise. The Australian annual national conference became a hallmark event and, interestingly, an unprecedented blossoming of youthful musical talent.”


In 1990, Sathya Sai Baba gave His blessings for Arthur and Poppy to join their spiritual paths in marriage and Swami continued to be the centre of their lives. As Arthur’s four children and Poppy’s two children by previous marriages were now grown, the newly-weds were free to work and travel together. Arthur and Poppy formed an ideal partnership, the perfect balance of the Shiva and Shakti in human form. They moved through life always loving, happy, smiling and content, and this touched and moved people around them. Even when their financial advisor stole most of their money, they faced it with equanimity and forgiveness. Arthur commented that they never had an unhappy day and even this event didn’t cause one – not even a ripple. When they were ill, their first thought was not to cause worry or pain to others who were concerned about them, and everyone who met them felt in them the echo of Swami’s Divine, selfless love. For Arthur and Poppy all life shone with joy, love of Truth and acceptance of ‘what is.’ In Arthur's words, expressed beautifully at the end of his famous food prayer:

"We have no complaints whatsoever Lord, and above all, we ask that you draw on each and every individual to become aware of the Truth, to live in Truth and thus, be free."

Arthur was appointed as the Central Coordinator for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in 1996, thus moving to hold a higher and more responsible post in the Sathya Sai Organisation. Consequently, Arthur and Poppy started to travel outside Australia more frequently. Arthur also became the Chair of the Christmas Committee arranging the Christmas celebrations in Prasanthi Nilayam for more than a decade. Arthur’s earlier aspirations to go into the priesthood transformed into his giving inspirational talks that emphasised the Divine Message of Love and Unity. Arthur’s keen wit along with his natural and unassuming nature made everyone feel comfortable, loved and uplifted in his presence. John Behner, current Chair of the Christmas Committee, describes those times:

“Christmas in Prasanthi has been a special time for many years. When Arthur started as the Christmas Committee chairman there wasn't even a Christmas committee - just Arthur with Swami to guide him. Then Robert Bruce (from America) would help him, and between the two of them they would organise the activities. Arthur, with his loving style of guidance, was able to get the devotees to do their very best. Poppy was always there to help as a sevadal. She knew all the foreign ladies and so she could seat them in an order which did not ruffle feathers.”

In later years, as Arthur’s hearing deteriorated, Sathya Sai Baba would lovingly joke that it was Arthur’s opportunity to listen within. For this reason, Poppy became the intermediary to convey devotees' questions to Arthur when they travelled and spoke of Swami and His teachings. Arthur started to reduce the length of time that he was given to speak to allow Poppy the chance to contribute her sharing of Sai Love and Spirit. Poppy started to speak in her own right at many of the meetings in support of Arthur’s growing public role. In 2007, both Arthur and Poppy spoke on Christmas Day in front of Baba and a crowd of gathered thousands in Prasanthi Nilayam. Shaun Brown, on remembering Poppy’s talk that year said:


“Poppy said that 2000 years ago, Jesus taught mankind, 'Love even your enemies and Love your neighbour as yourself.' Now, Swami is teaching us the same message in an even simpler and broader way with His teaching, 'Love all, Serve all.'”

You know, life is very beautiful. Wherever we go in the world, we find love - Arthur Hillcoat

Love is there already - we don’t have to make it happen - Poppy Hillcoat

From 2003, when Arthur stepped down as the Central Coordinator, the visits to Puttaparthi led to Sathya Sai Work at a global level. Arthur and Poppy felt blessed to travel to many countries around the world - America, the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Fiji, North and Southern India - along with Australia and New Zealand. Significantly they also visited the emerging countries in which the Sathya Sai Message was relatively new, such as Russia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and where political events were often challenging for those peoples. Arthur and Poppy perfectly played their role as messengers in explaining and living what Sathya Sai Baba had come to reveal. The role that had been formally seen as ‘Arthur’s’ became shared. Poppy was reaching out to the women devotees, particularly in the newer countries. They became known as ‘Swami's World Ambassadors of Love’ (a role that Swami Himself said will be theirs henceforth).

Their shining example will be remembered with love, always.


The Return of God’s Gift

This poem was given to Poppy and very much treasured by her. It was read to those people attending a function to celebrate Arthur’s life, shortly after his passing.

A great tree crashed in the great garden of Sai,
And the sound of its falling sent shockwaves to all.
Should we moan and wring our hands and cry,
Or should we, in the greatness of this lion, heed Sai’s Call?

Dear Dad Arthur, what great times we had,
As we walked together in the great adventure of Sai!
Wafting in my memory are your words of wisdom,
And the joy you gave all of us with your dance and Shiva cries.

You gave a rare leadership of Love,
Not the rule of an iron fist, And today,
if on earth we moan the loss of a great soul,
Heavens will be offering flowers for the return of God’s gift.

Thank You for who you were for so many - and to me.
With love and a fond farewell, one day, we will meet again!

Jega Jagadeesan, Malaysia

Arthur and Poppy were tireless Sai workers who served Swami well for many decades. They helped to spread Swami’s eternal and universal message of Love and Unity to the far corners of the world. We remember with affection the talks given by Mr. and Mrs. Hillcoat in Southern California many years ago, with a remarkable sense of humour. Arthur Hillcoat used to organise brilliant and uplifting Christmas programs in Prasanthi Nilayam. I was delighted to personally witness the beautiful divine interactions of Arthur with Swami during these occasions. He served the Sathya Sai International Organisation with dedication and love as the Chairman of Sathya Sai Council of Australia and advisor to Prasanthi Council.

- Dr Narendranath Reddy, Chair, Prasanthi Council, Sathya Sai International Organisation

Through their love for Swami and humanity, Arthur and Poppy saw all as one, always deeply immersed in this principle of advaita, One without a second. As Swami’s ‘Ambassadors for Love’, they helped many people to develop a deeper understanding of Swami’s teachings and the Truth of their being. We give gratitude to Swami, for their lives dedicated to the upliftment of humanity.

- Mr Neville Fredericks, Zone 3 Chair - Pacific Region

The Lion was dearly loved by Bhagawan, as was his partner Poppy. For many years they made our Christmases bright - Arthur as Christmas Committee Chairman, and Poppy as one of the sevadals on the ladies’ side. Their example inspired all of us.

Mr John Behner, Zone 2 Chair - South American Region

I met Arthur Hillcoat in 2005, when he, along with his wife Poppy, visited Russia. I was fortunate to welcome and accompany this wonderful couple. Poppy was a very attentive and caring wife, nice and soft to communicate with. Arthur for me was the apostle of Swami, a pure instrument of His teachings. Their talks were fascinating, filled with devotion, they gave a powerful spiritual impetus. As a married couple, they were an example of a happy family following spiritual path.

- Mr Oleg Kulakovskiy - Deputy Chairman of the IT Committee Zone 8 - Russia

Meeting Arthur and Poppy, we were struck by their happy and friendly nature. We felt special somehow – all of us – elevating our mood at having been included in their ever-expanding family of friends. Arthur and Poppy loved us all in the best way– warmly, steadily, joyfully and unreservedly.

- Drs Ron and Suwanti Farmer, Willowvale, Australia

Arthur and Poppy were an inseparable ideal couple that dedicated their lives to being the love that they were. Arthur was a gentle white lion that roared the atmic truth that ‘all are one’ while Poppy, with her twinkling eyes and friendly smile reached out to everyone she met.

- Mr Ravi Rudra, National President, New Zealand

We all have a loving, fond and kind of memories that we will always carry with us - memories that defined Mr. and Mrs. Hillcoat; memories that we will always hold dear. In Fiji, there are not many who had not been close to them and touched by them. They visited these shores ever since I remember, for thirty years. The value that Hillcoats loved most was ‘Love’. This, in fact, defined and shaped their life.

- Mr Mohan Lal, National Council President, Fiji

Arthur and Poppy Hillcoat have touched the hearts of all devotees of Greece with their profound wisdom, loving nature and wonderful sense of humour. Their absence will leave a big gap in our universal Sai Family, but we all know that they will be with us from a different level, where there is only Pure Love and Ananda (Bliss).

- Mr George Bebedelis, National Council President, Greece

Arthur and Poppy lived and led by example, dedicated their lives to spread Swami’s love and teachings having no geographical boundaries. Their love for Swami was insurmountable.

- Mr Prini and Mrs Hasita Wimalachandra, Auckland, New Zealand

Poppy and Arthur were much loved at the many UK Sai Centres they toured, spreading Swami's teachings. And they were just as inspiring off stage - always loving, joyful, kind, natural and never complaining, even when elderly and traveling huge distances in Swami's service. Truly their lives were Swami's message.

Mr Aimé and Mrs. Sandra Levy - Aimé was the former UK and Ireland Central Coordinator and Sandra, the former Editor of Facets, National UK Sai Magazine

Arthur and Poppy once wrote us a beautiful reminder, "Know that our love is with you always, regardless of whether we are in form or not in form. But most of all, know that He is your very Self." Shining embodiments of Swami's love and wisdom, their life's message was, "Be the Love that you are."

- Mr Shaun and Mrs. Fiona Brown, Brisbane, Australia

As Swami’s messengers of Love and Truth, Poppy and Arthur inspired us along our spiritual path with their immense dedication, compassion and wisdom. Connected together by Swami’s Love, they stay with us and remain forever in our memories, inspirations and hearts.

- Mr Zoja Methus on behalf of Sai Center Split Croatia

The Divine Couple were always welcomed to Sarajevo, not as guests, but rather as family members, whom we rarely saw but whose visits have stayed imprinted in hearts and will be visible within forever. Thanking Swami for sending us these wonderful beings, whom we could learn from and be inspired by, and who made us aspire for Divinity evermore.

- Mr Jadranko Panjeta, former National Council President, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Arthur and Poppy also visited Serbia and shared with us precious moments of their life close to Baba. We remember them shining with goodness, simplicity and authority, which originated from love. We feel privileged to have met them. Their presence renewed our souls’ belief in the possibility of love in this world.

 - Ms Verica Sekulic Opacic, National Coordinator, Serbia

Both Arthur and Poppy were good communicators, they loved to share spiritually uplifting stories and Sai teachings with us and they continued to spread the Sai message with both enthusiasm and humility.

- Mr Gulab and Mrs. Kanta Bilimoria - Gulab - National Reporter and former Regional Coordinator, New Zealand

Arthur was born 18 June 1928 and left his body on 13 August 2014.
Poppy was born 8 September 1934 and left her body on 7 March 2015.

Radio Sai Team

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