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He has an uncanny style of teaching and many a time it comes in the most realistic way, inducing us to stir our thought process. A devotee from Australia had such a wonderful experience during a Gurupurnima Festival at Prasanthi Nilayam in the mid seventies that the devotee learned the greatest lesson that God was (Is)  One and the entire creation was blessed to be within His Aura!

The Hall, second largest In India, was estimated to have held fifteen to twenty thousand on that evening. My friend and I were sitting fairly centrally, about one third of the way back despite the invitation to sit near the front and towards the side: the position was fortunate as otherwise, I doubt if the following wonderful experience could have been possible.

In His Divine discourse, with Dr Bhagavantham translating, Swami spoke about prophets and teachers of the great faiths, showing that the Sai faith embraced them all. Later on, Swami discoursed on the role of the Guru, but I heard little or nothing of this, because apparently inexplicable, my mind seemed to wander and I wondered casually if I could see Dr Bhagavantham’s aura. The dark background curtain absorbed the aura; so I switched attention to Swami to see if His aura could be discerned despite the curtain and concentrated hard to see at least His aura. Suddenly, unbelievably, Swami’s hair seemed to have disappeared! His hair had become a sort of clear transparent aura. Amazed, my concentrated gaze then discerned within this frame a quite different head of hair, shoulder length, black, with a slight wave, and Swami’s face became the face of Christ, a Jewish Christ, not the blonde Christ of the Medieval Italian artists. I gazed at this phenomenon with great interest and no religious emotion. As I gazed, the face became that of someone I could not place—possibly Zoroaster or Buddha or perhaps some teacher unfamiliar to me—and throughout the subsequent events these two animated faces recurred, to assure me that I was not inducing these visions.

Having thus gained and held my attention, Swami then gave a great blessing and an emotional jolt, for there was my revered Ramana Maharishi, white haired and slender faced, utterly unlike the former visions. I was a devotee of the Maharishi, whose writings have given glimpses of reality, and had been feeling disloyal because of the new found devotion to Baba. Baba settled this disquiet by showing that there was no difference between Gurus. This indeed was the main purpose of this blessed experience. The following visions were brief and were mostly of the Hindu deities or personalities which had become meaningful to me. Rama, a brief but distinct and repeated glimpse of Ganesha, Shirdi Sai Baba and Lord Shiva. Recently I had seen a photograph of Sathya Sai Baba in which He had been depicted as Durga on Her lion, and I wondered if I might be able see Baba in this Goddess form ever. Instead, I had a breathtaking vision of Tripura Sundari—Lalita—Goddess of the Three Worlds, exquisitely beautiful and very alive. I was wondering why Krishna did not appear. So did Krishna! Periodically I yearned to see Baba Himself, with interesting consequences: I saw Him at His various ages, His face always an oval of Light; at times He dissolved into pure Light with no form at all. Now and again, in response to mental request, I saw Baba superimposed over other visions of Him talking animatedly. His face—how could I adequately describe it? —clearly visible but not of solid matter, more, like a series of points, the nucleus of matter.

What was Baba’s purpose in allowing these visions? So many lessons were learnt that evening, apart from the precious knowledge that Ramana was one with Baba, that all were One and we were one with The One. Maya, illusion—the unreality of constantly mobile matter and its reality as pure Light. The Formless God who could assume any form He liked and the response of those forms to our own mental creativity. I had recently been thinking deeply about Maya, and in Ooty I had mentally, half seriously asked Baba to show me His real form.

“God can be seen in concrete form—but it is still only in the devotee’s mind. Form and appearance is determined by the mind of the devotee. Minds and interpretations differ.” (Teachings of Ramana Maharishi: Osborn)

“Visions of God are as real as your own identity. Objects bear relation to the state of the seer. Visions of God have their place, below the plane of Self-realization.” (Talks with Ramana Maharishi.)

Beloved Baba, to give so much to one as ‘unworthy’ and unprepared as I am! And to how many of those many thousands did He communicate, while delivering what I could only presume to have been a profound discourse? How blessed are we to be within His aura! Beloved wonderful Baba!

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II