INTRODUCTION

In search of the living God, who was embodied in human form, my path led me to the Indian town of Puttaparthi. Having read a few books about Sai Baba, miracle worker, avatar and the the divine man, I felt a strong desire to see him and write a book about him.

In the organization of Saitours from Zagreb, 12 pilgrims or Sai Baba’s followers set out on this long journey (over 9,000 km) by a French plane Air France. Those were: seven followers from Bjelovar, two from Koprivnica, one from Osijek, one from Holland and one from Germany.

The Pilgrims from Croatia

The Pilgrims from Croatia

We set out from the airport in Zagreb on 4th January 2011 at 7.15 and flying over Paris we arrived in Bangalore at 20.15 by European time, i.e. on 5th January 2011 at 00.45 by Indian time (time difference + 4,5 hours). After we went through customs procedures, there at the airport we exchanged some euros for Indian money rupee in order to pay for the taxi and rooms (1 euro = 54 rupees, while in Puttaparthi the exchange rate of euro in a private exchange office was much more favourable, abut 58 rupees). The cost of a taxi ride from Bangalore to Puttaparthi is around 1,500 rupees (200 kunas) and is divided by the number of the passangers.

The triumphal arch in Puttaparthi

The triumphal arch in Puttaparthi

Town Puttaparthi

Town Puttaparthi

A Street in Puttaparthi

A Street in Puttaparthi

The triumphal arch in Puttaparthi which shows Babas age

The triumphal arch in Puttaparthi which shows Baba’s age

On coming to Puttaparthi, we came into the settlement of Sai Baba (ašram) ‘Prasanthi Nilayam’, which is separated from the town by a concrete wall and a forged iron fence; there we were welcomed with respect and God’s greeting Sai Ram. Here we checked in in the northern building number 8 and paid for the rooms for the first ten days. The price of the twin room with a bathroom is 1,950 rupees (250 kn) for 15 days and is divided by the number of users. Men and women, as well as spouses, are separated in the buildings, in separate rooms. After a refreshing sleep and washing I went out of the building together with my two roommates Darko and Andrija. Outside we saw a blue sky without a cloud and the summer temperature was around 30 °C. Darko, who had come here for the third time and spoke English fluently, showed us the whole of the Baba’s settlement (ašram) ‘Prasanthi Nilayam’ and explained to us that here you enter each building barefoot and leave scuffs and sandals in front of the building for hygienic reasons, but also in order for every pilgrim to absorb as much as possible of God’s energy which radiates in the whole of Baba’s settlement, especially in Baba’s residence where he gives his ‘daršan’ (his appearance and blessing). My surprise was enormous, because on each step I met unknown people in white clothes who greeted me with respect and clasped hands, like angels with God’s greeting Sai Ram. In my head I kept asking myself the question, where have I come to? It’s a paradise on earth!

Babas settlement Prasanthi Nilayam

Baba’s settlement Prasanthi Nilayam

Sri Sathya Sai Baba living room

Sri Sathya Sai Baba living room

I remembered the Ten Commandments which God had given to Moses on the mountain of Sinaj on stone plates, and which are:
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
4. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
5.You shall not murder.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife!
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The hall where Baba gives his darshan

The hall where Baba gives his darshan

Baba on stage during the darshan hall

Baba on stage during the darshan hall

Baba gives his darshan

Baba gives his darshan

In Baba’s settlement ‘Prasanthi Nilayam’ there is a beautiful Baba’s residence with a big hall for pilgrims, a school, a hospital, a department store, a bakery, a bank, a library, several kiosks where you can buy coffee, tea, water and juices, a few temples and statues of saints, a lot of greenery, as well as three canteens in which various vegetarian cooked food without meat is prepared for pilgrims, for example: Northern Indian and South Indian canteen with spicy vegetarian Indian food and western canteen with various vegetarian European food. We chose to eat at the western canteen in which we were always welcomed at the entrance and accompanied after the meal by Seva (Baba’s volonteer) with clasped hands and God’s greeting Sai Ram. Sevas are Baba’s volonteers who are taught to serve selflessly and help other people. Mail Sevas are recognized by a blue scarf around their neck, and female sevas are recognized by their yellow and red scarf around their neck. In the kitchen there are two entrances, separate for men and for women. In the dining room, near the entrance door, there is an altar with the picture of Baba and the statue of Jesus and some other Indian saints, and you can also see Baba’s pictures on the walls. Before the meal people sing a holy song (bhajane). Every day at a Swedish table chefs offer vegetable soup and around ten kinds of vegetarian food with rice, spaghetti, potatoes, beans, lentil and various sauces, as well as fruit cake and fruit pastries, several kinds of salads, black bread or rolls, and beverages made of cow milk, soya milk, yoghurt, tea and tea with milk. The price of breakfast, lunch and supper with beverages is from 170 to 200 rupees (20 to 25 kn) in the western canteen, and twice as low in the Southern Indian and Northern Indian canteen.

Here in Prasanthi Nilayama there are regulations and discipline, but also respect for God and man which all the pilgrims should adhere to. Smoking and using drugs and alcohol is strictly forbidden. During the day it is allowed to go out to the town of Puttaparthi where drugs and alcohol are not sold, but in some cafes smoking while drinking coffee or juice is allowed. At every entrance into Baba’s settlement there is a strict control of people like at an airport. At 3 p.m. (at Indian time) we went to the department store and bought white clothes (trousers and shirts) which we were going to wear every day here in Prasantha Nilayama. At the entrance we were welcomed by Seva, who greeted us with clasped hands and with a holy greeting Sai Ram. On the other side is the exit and again the greeting Sai Ram. Every day from 8 to 9 o’clock and in the afternoon at 4.30 they play beautiful Baba’s holy songs/bhajanas over the loudspeakers, and in the afternoon the followers gather in the hall for daršan, leaving their shoes on the shelves behind the hall. Due to some health problems on the first day we didn’t go to Baba for daršan (his appearance and blessing).

The Park in Prasanthi Nilayam

The Park in Prasanthi Nilayam

North Indian canteen

North Indian canteen

A Department store in Prasanthi Nilayam

A Department store in Prasanthi Nilayam

Sri Sathya books and publication Trus

Sri Sathya books and publication Trus

On Thursday 6th January 2011 we went into town where there is a real traffic jam. Because of a great number of pedestrians and vehicles, during the sightseeing you can hear honking all the time. We rented a rikša ( a motor three-wheeler) and visited Baba’s house of birth and the grave of his parents as well as the Super specialist hospital outside Puttaparthi.

The Temple on the site of Babas birth house

The Temple on the site of Baba’s birth house

The Tomb of Babas parents

The Tomb of Baba’s parents

Today Baba wasn’t giving his daršan. On Friday 07/01/2011 we went to the town of Puttaparthi and saw the Chitravathi river where Sai Baba had played with his schoolmates and thrown little balls of sand which turned into pastry. In a shop we bought cushions for sitting in Baba’s hall during daršan. Today we also didn’t see Baba because due to a big crowd we weren’t able to enter the hall before its closure. Every evening during the sunset a few thousands of birds (mostly crows) come down on various trees near Baba’s residence and the hall where he gives daršan to his followers and they greet with their loud chirping the Divine Man and his followers. It should be mentioned that Baba is always barefoot and dressed in a long orange dress. Until a few years ago he used to visit his followers in the hall, take their letters, materialised their vibhuti and a lot of objects and invite some groups to talk to him in his rooms. For a few years now he has changed his strategy and communicates only with his staff and students and comes in his white car and in a wheelchair to give his daršan. Some twenty years ago Baba said: ‘The day will come when you will not be able to come near me because of a large number of my followers who will be coming from the whole world. You will see me from the distance as a small orange spot.’ The followers can put their letters into a mail box near Baba’s residence. On Saturday 08/01/2011 we went into town and visited the three of wishes in whose tree crown Baba used to create various fruit for his schoolmates. Today I went to Baba’s daršan (his appearance and blessing) at 4.30 p.m. already. After the search at the entrance, I sat down in about 20th row. Baba’s students and students with their teachers sit in the first rows, all dressed in white, like angels. I noticed a few pigeons in the hall which can come in here from two sides which are not completely closed because they have a high concrete wall and a forged fence. Baba was brought in a white car by a driver at about 6.15 p.m. Driving slowly in front of the first rows of the followers, Baba was giving his blessing (daršan) to the present people from the car. I saw him only very little because most people in front of me had stood up. After the car had made a whole circle, Baba’s students took him out of the car in the wheelchair and drove him to a pedestal near the statues of lions. I went dumb the same moment, because around Baba’s head and shoulders I noticed a bright light in the form of a halo, which stayed for 2-3 minutes when Baba wiped his face with a white scarf for the first time. I threw myself on my knees, kissed the floor and crossed myself. Is it possible that I, as a man and a sinner, saw God in a human form? From head to toe a strange warm energy went through me, I feel my soul trembling, and my eyes cannot separate from Baba. That evening I couldn’t eat any supper because the question kept pounding in my head, has my search of God come to an end?

Sai Baba surrounded by light

Sai Baba surrounded by light

The Part of trees where birds gather in the evening

The Part of trees where birds gather in the evening

My memory went into a far away past when one evening, I, an 11-year-old boy, had been coming back home with my parents after work in the field. On the path before us we had noticed a red twinkling light. When we had come close to it, the light had moved away from the path and gone 20 metres away to the left, twinkling all the time. I hadn’t realized then that it was a sign from God through which God had been preparing me for something. When I was 12, on my pilgrimage in Paulovec, I saw, together with my father, a sign from God in the form of three pigeons which flew away loudly from Our Lady’s lime tree. At the age of 33, on a business trip, I had a serious car accident, when a trailer truck, in a thick fog, was overtaking two buses and crashed into my car Z-750, stuffing the whole front part into the rear seat. They somehow managed to get me out of the heap of iron and took me to hospital, where I regained consciousness after ten hours. Later I realized that God himself had saved me. I experienced the next miracle in 2003 in Zagreb during the taking out of my new passport at the police station. As I was travelling to Austria and Germany the same evening, I came to the police station to pick up my passport at 6.30 p.m. However, there was still a big crowd of people there, because 30 people were waiting in the line for taking out their new passports and the same number at the other counter where you had to file a request for making a new passport. On the automat in the hall I pressed a button for getting a number, but the number didn’t come out. I pressed the button again, but the number still didn’t come out. At this moment an unknown woman in black clothes appeared next to me and told me: ‘Let me press the button.’ After she had pressed the button, I got the number and after thanking the woman I went into the room and stood in the long line. I asked the man in front of me what his number was, and when I looked at my number I was surprised because he had thirty numbers less than me. Then I started to push forward, with people protesting loudly, but when I showed my number they hardly let me through so that day I got my passport among the last people, while the other twenty people waiting didn’t get their passport. After getting the passport I remembered the woman who had helped me, but she wasn’t in the room. On Tuesday 2nd March 2010 I experienced another miracle. In the morning at about 9 o’clock I heard the cooing of a pigeon which I had never heard here. I went out on the terrace and saw a pigeon on the roof of the neighbouring holiday house looking towards me. Then a flock of twenty little black birds, smaller than sparrows flew to my lawn, but after a few seconds they quickly flew away. The pigeon then flew down near me, but he immediately flew back to the roof. Although there was a drizzle, the pigeon stood on the roof and watched my terrace (like the Holy Spirit). The next day, a woman believer from Veliko Trojstvo saw a silhouette of a woman during the pilgrimage and praying in Paulovac. On retiring I pledged to the Mother of God that I would, with the help of believers, build some sacral monuments in Our Lady’s shrine in Paulovac, write a book and open a web page (www.stef-velikotrojstvo.com.hr) and (www.crkva-paulovac.hr). On Sunday 09/01/2011 we visited the museum of various religions on the hill above ašram. We didn’t see the meditation tree where Baba buried a materialized talisman many years ago and planted a tree which now has a big crown. To meditate means to create the emptiness of mind, which can also be done by prayer.

Ganesha Temple

Ganesha Temple

Ganesha

Ganesha

The Tree of meditation

The Tree of meditation

Muhamed

Muhamed

On Baba’s daršan I went at about 4.30 p.m. Although Baba comes to give his daršan (blessing) between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., today he already came at 6.20 p.m. and went away at 5.45 p.m. On Monday 10/01 I went to Baba’s daršan at 4.30 p.m. already. Baba came in his car at about 5.40 p.m. and went away at about 6.50 p.m. On Tuesday 11/01 and on Wednesday 12/01 Baba didn’t give his daršan because in the late afternoon hours he was at the sports stadium where school children and students were having their annual sports and cultural meetings.

The Sports stadium in Puttaparthi

The Sports stadium in Puttaparthi

The Statues next to the sports stadium

The Statues next to the sports stadium

Every day we went into town for juice or coffee and bought various souvenirs, and we also visited Baba’s museum next to the sports stadium. Because of the big number of pilgrims I hardly managed to come into Baba’s hall for daršan on 13/01. Baba came by car at about 5.50 p.m. and briefly gave his daršan. From 6 p.m. to 7.20 p.m. a theatrical group acted in a historical Indian drama. In the end Baba had himself photographed with the actors. On Friday 14/01 Baba didn’t come because of daršan. On Saturday 15/01 there was a terrible crowd and I didn’t manage to come into the hall where Baba rewarded some participants of sports and cultural meetings with presents. On Sunday 16/01 Baba came by car at about 6.45 p.m. and went away at about 7.45 p.m. After daršan his students gave away to the present participants, me being among them, little parcels of sweet holy food (prasad). On Monday 17/01 Baba didn’t come to give his daršan. On Tuesday 18/01 Baba came by car at about 6.30 p.m. and after daršan left at about 7.15 p.m. On Wednesday 19/01, on our last day, Baba didn’t come by car, but was driven by hist students in his wheelchair at about 6.30 p.m. After his daršan and the singing of bhajan Baba was driven away at about 7.15 p.m. at Indian time. After supper at about 9 p.m. (4.30 p.m. at European time) we left Baba’s ašram and Puttaparthi by taxi and drove to the airport in Bangalore, where from we set out by an Air France plane towards Paris and further towards Zagreb, where we arrived on 20/01/2011 at about 12 o’clock.

On coming home, my impressions were as follows: On going to India I had 90 kilograms and great stomach troubles as well as problems with prostate. Already on the fourth day of my stay in Baba’s settlement, I felt in my heart and my soul some divine energy, love, peace and respect to God and man, and by eating vegetarian food, my pains have completely vanished; in 15 days I lost 7 kilos and I feel great. 15-day costs for staying, food, drink, white clothes, souvenirs and transport through town and from the airport Bangalore to Puttaparthi and back, are alltogether 150 euros (1,100 kunas).

SAI BABINO DJETINJSTVO I BOŽANSKE IGRE