Light from Light

We come here for our transformation; this is the workshop. The car comes in, the engine gets checked, the repairs are made, the oil is topped up, the new parts are fitted to the car, we are sent back out. Everything here is offered for our spiritual progress – I was reminded of this early this morning. I walked outside in the early morning dark to see people sitting on chairs outside in the cool of the morning, and devotees were walking past at 4AM to go inside for prayers, OMKAR, Nagasankirtan, like this. The Omkar bell goes every morning, I have heard it often, this trip.

God is Light and all His divine incarnations are verily light from light, avers the Credo of the Mass. So are we, also. We are all beings of light.

That didn’t help much when the lights kept on going off during darshan the other night. Sit and watch darshan, the lights go off. Sai Gayathri on the speakers goes off. Ladies keep chanting Sai Gayathri. Lights come back on. Get up, join the queue, the lights go off. Men around me keep on chanting Sai Gayathri. Get to the top of the queue, the lights go off. The generator nearby the front gate finally kicks in and we have light over the Samadhi only. Nice light, it highlights the orange and white fringe around the top of the porch. Go up the lines towards the Samadhi itself; I see a fellow hand his prettily dressed daughter to his father, one queue to another. At the top, men are kneeling, praying. Grandfather with daughter steps to one side and prays. For some odd reason, I beckon him to come and join at the foot of the Samadhi. He puts his granddaughter on the ground and kneels; I kneel also. You know those young children, how they wobble a bit standing up? Not quite steady on their feet. I turn and take the tiny girl’s hands, and place them on the front ledge of the Samadhi. She wobbles a bit and looks up. I finally go back to what I am there for, place my forehead on the shrine and close my eyes. There is darkness, stillness, within. This happens every time I am up there at the Samadhi. Perhaps I am offering this self, this instrument, perhaps I am the emptiness which is open to being filled, or emptied out so that Love can take its place.

We get up and leave; Grandfather is holding granddaughter again, looks across and smiles, and softly says, “Sai Ram!”.

Warm nights, warm mornings. The cool seems to dissipate quickly in the mornings, now.


I had noticed that some familiar beggars are back in town. Traffic in Main Road, and crowds are slowly increasing. Buses come and go, although I was mildly surprised that I could just about see all the way down Canteen Avenue the other night. I have only ever seen all the way during quiet mornings. A measure of the numbers here, perhaps. I mentioned familiar beggars. I noted that some of them had cleaned right up, put on nice garments, and came into the darshan hall walking on their hands as usual. They also went up to the Samadhi and took darshan, albeit from the side. I think its a bit of a shock to everyone to see this, the wheelchairs go past, then the beggars walking on their hands, then the fellows with poles and walking sticks, all hobbling across the front of the darshan hall. The very halt and lame, just like those who made their way to the top of the hill where Jesus was crucified.


Evening meal in the Western Canteen. I make a point of looking across the Shrine inside, chair for Swami, idols all around. Some ladies sit on the floor at the shrine and eat their meal with God. Reminds me of those days in the darshan hall when Swami would give a meal to all after a divine discourse, then just walk around the darshan hall speaking to people as they ate their meal. That was a most unique experience, in itself. You know how it is, how we all struggled to get to the front of the darshan line, catch Swami’s eye, speak with him, have a letter taken, put our hands together as he passed. But at these meals in the darshan hall, everyone would simply eat their meal, there would be this magnificent oneness, oneness with Swami, oneness with each other as we had this meal in common. I used to look up and try to spot Swami in the darshan hall; he would simply walk from side to side, speak with someone here and there, all the while, everyone would be looking down and eating. It was like family, he was our Mother walking around to see all was well, and we were all his children. People were totally unconcerned, eating their meal and looking up to answer a question from Swami, he walks on, we go back to eating.

Mangalam arathi anduko; it helps when the students are there. The bell can’t drown those students out!

We come here for our transformation; this is the workshop. The car comes in, the engine gets checked, the repairs are made, the oil is topped up, the new parts are fitted to the car, we are sent back out. Everything here is offered for our spiritual progress – I was reminded of this early this morning. I walked outside in the early morning dark to see people sitting on chairs outside in the cool of the morning, and devotees were walking past at 4AM to go inside for prayers, OMKAR, Nagasankirtan, like this. The Omkar bell goes every morning, I have heard it often, this trip.

After prayers at the Samadhi, once again we are directed inside the mandiram. This time, I take my time to take in more of mandir proper. Look up to the top, yes those idols are still there right at the top above all, I recall this from photos of when the mandir was opened on 23 November 1950. A relation of the Kasturi family, whom I have known for many years was speaking with me tonight, relating stories from the early days in Prashanti Nilayam. As a little boy, he would chase his brother and other children in an out of the mandir during the day. The doors were open all the time.


Light from Light. Afternoon vedam, bhajans, darshan. On the ladies side, I watch girls from the Hostel arrive, all in their white cotton dresses, all sitting together, right in front of the mandir. Students arrive and take their place; some have books, some have fans, some have mats to sit on. They seem to sit in class groups. Some immediately join in the vedam, I can see them chanting as they walk across the front of the darshan hall to their appointed place.

Vedam, listening. Just listening, centering. Focus on light, bring the light within. Take padanamaskar on the inner level, drawing in this divine energy. Swami’s feet disappear, there is only golden light at the bottom of Swami’s robe, and my hands have disappeared in this light.

There must be laughter, fun. Swami was and is, ever funny. Kasturi’s relation is telling me jokes about the mother of Prema Sai. Mother of Prema Sai has a mobile phone. She hears Prema Sai say from within, “I am coming tomorrow.” Mother of Prema Sai grabs her mobile phone and tells the world. Telephone, telegraph, and television. Tells the world. Who knows, he goes on; this year, next year, eight years time, ten years time? Surely, we will all get the call, the text message!

He did say one thing, seriously. He did say, in his feeling and in his conviction, that Prem Sai would be so powerful that he would not be taking letters. He would simply look at people and read their brows. Read the Prarabdha Karma written there.

He went on to describe more of the early days in Prashanthi Mandir. He had to clean. There used to be framed photographs hanging all around the top balcony, photographs of all the different gods. Birds would come in and make their nests in the small gaps behind the photographs. Mice would come in and scurry up the shrines to get the ghee and the oil on the lamp stands. He had to put them out without hurting them. He would go up and clean Swami’s room. Mice would get in under the door. Swami had a box of wee kittens in his room and would be taking them out and playing with them. The little kittens would go after the mice, and Swami would pull them back, for none should get hurt. The stick should break, not the snake’s back, Swami used to tell him.


Kasturi and wife with Sathya Sai Baba. Kasturi was called to be Baba’s biographer.

He also told a story about Grandfather Kasturi; how one very rich family from Hyderabad came to have a child named by Swami on the fourth day. Grandfather runs to Swami and raps on his door and tells Swami. Swami tells, “Put them in a room”. Preparations are made, relations are invited. A shrine and chair for Swami are made ready. Baby is placed under Swami’s chair, festivities continue to be prepared. Meal, garlands, leaves, rangoli, all these things are prepared. People find that the baby is dead under Swami’s chair – snakebite is found on the baby’s hand; there is howling and grief. Baby is taken down to Chitravathi River and buried. People return to the place they have made ready for Swami, morose, sad, crying. Mother is silent. After some time, the mother chides all present, saying, “We do not know the story of the atman that came to this body. This body expired under Swami’s chair, so Swami gave merger. We should all be happy, celebrating, giving thanks to Swami for his great blessing.” Grandfather Kasturi goes to Swami’s room, filled with sadness for these people from Hyderabad. Swami tells, “In all this universe, all these atman are taking birth, and returning to source after birth. I must attend to all in all the Universes.” Grandfather Kasturi is simultaneously chastened and amazed.

There was this relation of Kasturi, he was a student at the Patshala provided by Swami, 1962 -1974. He was learned in Sanskrit and vedam. He is going to conduct one Sathyanaryana Puja. I will share what he told about this puja, and the background.

The highest, truest and eternal divine energy, also called Chaitanya, is what we humans are able to recognise as Sathya. Sat is Sanskrit and denotes essential or basic and therefore permanent existence. Permanent implies that its absence is completely negated. There is nothing but divine energy!

The other divine energy in operative force in the universe is Narayana, meaning complete in and out experience and realisation of everything around us.

Sathya Narayana therefore is the highest divine attribute and the form adorable, admirable and prayerfully sought with a simple mind and sincere effort or sadhana.

In the greater context of creation, our present time is called Kali Yuga. It vibrates with the weakest of mental energies, falling for cheap or easy pleasures ans sliding further into decline – unable to feel the divine presence – or even acknowledge its existence.

But it is in Kali Yuga that God manifests himself among humans and it is the easiest time of all to attain God-realisation. Swami, our beloved Bhagavan Baba, was named Sathyanarayana Raju after the puja to the deity had been performed; God himself willed to take birth. The divinity, which is God, appears or manifests in many appropriate forms according to his own choice and for his own pleasure.

Sri Sathya Narayana as Sathya Sai is such an appearance to his devotees; granting the grace of divine happiness through knowledge of God’s existence. Beloved Bhagavan Baba walked with us, spoke with us, interacted and guided us all through the 85 years of his sojourn on this planet, Earth.

But He, in all his merciful wisdom granted a way of benefit of Sathyanarayna worship to his devotees, to remain in contact, feel his presence and experience oneness with the Divine.

The puja is not very demanding, in terms of physical constraints or special discipline or activities. Any devotee can sit down for this puja, the main requirement being a pure and devoted heart and a prayerful attitude.

Offerings consist of water, fruits, flowers with a fresh fragrance and a sparkle of glimmering light in the form of a lamp. More important is the feeling in the heart – bhava – during the prayer, is what establishes contact with God. We call out to him in love and devotion with a melodious voice, a peaceful mind and faith. This is all that is necessary to draw God’s love and grace towards us.

We are all beings of light.

We are all Light from Light.



© Chris Parnell