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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group III | Mr. Howard Murphet

Mr. Howard Murphet,
New South Wales,

Mr. Howard Murphet was from New South Wales, Australia. He was a multifaceted personality and a known ardent devotee of Bhagavan. He authored the books ‘Sai Baba – Man of Miracles’, ‘Sai Baba Avatar’, ‘Sai Baba – Invitation to Glory’, ‘Where the Road Ends’, ‘Sai Mission to Mankind’, etc. He passed away recently.

This is an article by Mr. Howard Murphet himself based on the narration by Mr. Gopalakrishna Yachendra, the second son of the late Raja of Venkatagiri, of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan. Mr. Gopalakrishna Yachendra, who presently lives in Chennai, has had experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan for several decades to date. His experiences in this article relate to the beginning of his family’s association with Bhagavan.

‘Lord Rama was the Ishtadevata of the late Raja of Venkakagiri, though members of his family worshipped other divine forms. Each respected the others’ personal preferences in the matter of the divine cloaks that the one God wears.

The Raja, when he first met young Sathya Sai felt sure he was an Avatar and always treated him with profound veneration. He begged the Avatar to honour his palace by spending some time there. Swami agreed to pay the visit, and a suitable time was arranged.

His eldest son being away when the time for Swami’s visit drew near, the Raja asked his younger son, Gopal, to take the big palace car and bring Swami from Puttaparthi.

Gopal, however, begged leave to decline. As he told me years later, his only interest at the time was cricket, which he played for his State of Andhra Pradesh. He felt no interest whatever in Sai Baba or any other spiritual figure.

But that night he dreamed a dream in which Swami came to him and gave him two mangoes to eat. After he had eaten them, he awoke with a tremendous urge to go to Puttaparthi. Though it was the middle of the night, he jumped out of bed and went to tell his father about his sudden change of mind. The old Raja did not mind being awakened to hear this surprising news.

Next day he gave Gopal certain instructions about the journey, one of them being to send a telegram on the day he was leaving Puttaparthi with Swami, then from every main centre he passed through on the route home, he was to send another telegram. Thus the Raja would be kept informed of the Avatar’s progress towards Venkatagiri, and the expected time of his arrival there.

The Raja’s intention was to meet the palace car outside the gates and bring Sai Baba through the town of Venkatagiri in royal procession. It was to be a reception with all the pageantry and trappings fit for a King. Gopal promised faithfully to send all the telegrams as instructed, and set off on the long journey over rough roads to the remote, little-known village of Puttaparthi.

In those early days, Gopal told me, the road stopped on the banks of the Chitravati River opposite Puttaparthi. Passengers had to wade across the narrow stream that flowed through the broad sands of the riverbed. When Gopal arrived, he saw Swami on the sands and quickly waded across to him. As they met, Swami smiled a welcome and remarked, ‘they must have been powerful mangoes you ate.’

A glory seemed to shine around the young Swami and Gopal could not say anything. Baba patted him affectionately, and went on, ‘we will leave for Venkatagiri in two or three days.’

Gopal’s interest in cricket took second place from that time on. Though Sai Baba was only about his own age, and village-born, he seemed to know everything, and was completely in command of every situation.

When, after a few days at Puttaparthi, they were about to leave, Gopal remembered his father’s instruction about the telegrams, and told Swami.

‘There will be no need for that’ Sai Baba smiled.

Gopal never disobeyed his father, but Swami was so much in control, emanating such confidence and power, that Gopal felt everything would be all right, and forgot his father’s request. Even so, as they approached Venkatagiri, he was somewhat surprised and relieved to see his father and a crowd waiting outside the gates to receive them.

When at the head of his relatives and retainers, the Raja stepped forward to greet the visitor, instead of Sai Baba, he saw Lord Rama sitting there in the palace car. Then his joy knew no bounds, and he took the Avatar in procession to the palace.

Later, in a quiet moment, Gopal asked his father how he had known what time the car would be arriving.

‘I knew by your telegrams, of course’, the Raja replied.

‘But – but I didn’t send any telegrams. Sai Baba wouldn’t let me.’

‘What are you talking about – did not send any?’

The Raja picked up several telegrams and showed them to his son. They all bore Gopal’s name as the sender. Gopal shook his head in bewilderment. ‘And yet I did not send any’, he insisted.

The Raja was impressed by his son’s manner and began to feel that something strange had happened. He remembered that such telegrams had appeared on a table while he was out of the room, and he had thought that a servant had taken them from the post office messenger, and placed them there. Now he wondered.

He sent for the postmaster, and asked if any telegrams had been received, addressed to the Raja, and delivered to the palace that day.

‘No, none’, was the reply.

‘Then the Raja understood, and Gopal began to understand, that the telegrams had been ‘precipitated’ into the palace by the power of Sai Rama.

Gopal, unlike his father and elder brother, had not bothered to study the great Hindu scriptures, but he began now to worship Sai Baba as an embodiment of the Divine. This spiritual perception and understanding were enhanced by many things that happened through the year following that miracle journey when the Lord first rode beside him to his ancestral home.

‘Now I have two interests in life – Swami and cricket’, he told me, with typical understatement, in 1979.

-- Mr. Howard Murphet.

(Source: The article is extracted from the book ‘Baba is God in Human Form’ by Mr. Prem Luthra – Serial No. 74)