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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group III | Ms. Diana Baskin

Ms. Diana Baskin,

Ms. Diana Baskin from the USA had Darshan of Bhagavan in 1969 for the first time at Prasanthi Nilayam. Ever since, she made several visits to Prasanthi Nilayam. She authored the book ‘Divine Memories of Sathya Sai Baba’.

‘Christina was a year and a half old when we left for India. Up to the last minute Joel kept changing his mind and that kept me in a state of suspense until we finally boarded the plane; only then did I feel secure. When we arrived at the ashram, Joel was appalled at the primitive living conditions and grumbled endlessly while we unloaded our luggage. My mother had been in the ashram a month before we arrived, and as rooms were scarce, we shared a room with her. We came well-supplied form Bangalore with food, mattresses and everything needed to soften and pamper our spoiled western bodies. I was happy and serene but could see Joel’s tension mounting; it needed an outlet. Smoking is not allowed in the ashram so I took him to the hills behind our room, outside the boundaries, to have a smoke.

We sat on a large rock and looked at the view of the valley of Puttaparthi in the late afternoon; it was magnificent. We could see for miles and follow the river below, winding through the peaceful valley surrounded by mountains and deep silence. Suddenly, Joel looked up at the sky and exclaimed, full of wonder and surprises, ‘look, look at the rainbow!’ I looked up and saw a most peculiar rainbow. It was not curved, but went straight up in the sky and started dissolving slowly from the bottom up while I was looking at it. ‘What is so interesting about that?’ I asked him. ‘Don’t you remember? That is what I wanted to ask Sai Baba to make for me, a rainbow’ Joel answered a bit shaken. I did not reply because I thought Joel’s request was absurd. Why should Baba take the trouble to make him a rainbow? Not that I thought He couldn’t make one, but why make such a big thing for such a sceptic? I did not tell Joel my thoughts. I wanted him to believe but strangely enough I did not. Joel looked all around the sky and noticed there were no clouds; it was a perfectly clear day. We had just arrived and not spoken to anyone, so he discarded that possibility that someone could have told Baba that he wanted a rainbow. Only his friends in Los Angeles knew.

When we returned to the room, Professor Kasturi greeted us with the wonderful news that Sai Baba had called us for an interview the following morning.

In the morning, we waited in the interview room for Sai Baba to come downstairs. Joel was standing at the foot of the stairs and as Baba reached the bottom, He turned to Joel with a big smile and said, ‘Well, character, how did you like my rainbow?’ as He slapped Joel affectionately on the back.

Joel stood speechless, as if frozen, while tears came to his yes and rolled down his cheeks. Tears and shame overcame me as well when I realized I was in no position to judge if a person’s request was silly, or how deserving anyone is of Baba’s grace and love. There is no difference for Baba in making a ring or a rainbow. Nor can any of His manifestations be labelled as ‘big’ or ‘small’, or required ‘more’ or ‘less’ trouble for Him. All of these labels are based on our misconceptions.

Sai Baba sat on a chair and we gathered around Him on the floor; Joel sat at the foot of His chair. Baba turned to a lady from Mexico and said, ‘your knees have been hurting you.’ She nodded. Baba glanced at Joel before He carefully pulled up His sleeves as far as it would go (He often does this for sceptics), and waved His hand in a circular motion. When he turned it upwards there appeared on the palm of His hand, vibhuti, which He gave to the lady from Mexico. He then turned to me and asked how my daughter was feeling. I replied, ‘not very well.’ She had cold and intestinal problems. He again waved His hand and materialized a fresh fig, which He told me to give to Christina. The atmosphere was joyous and electric as Baba talked and joked with all of us. During that hour, time stood still and could not be counted. Each moment was eternal. No experience, even the most thrilling I could recall, could compare to the joy of being in His presence. I was beginning to experience a blissful state which grew in intensity as time passed.

When we left the interview room, Joel immediately started his investigation of the fig Baba had materialized. He went to the little village just outside the ashram to see if any were selling figs. He was told that it was not the season for figs; not a single fresh fig could be found anywhere in South India!

Joel told me that when we were in the interview room he was wishing Baba would materialize a fruit the very moment before He did. He had carefully watched Baba’s hands during the materialization and could not detect trickery. Baba had taken him aside for a few moments and privately told Joel things about his life that no one knew and that Joel was not thinking about at the time. Mind reading was out. Joel was becoming fascinated with his ‘character’.

Joel was also becoming fascinated with the low cost of living in India. With a few hundred dollars a month, one could like a king in royal style. Western-style homes only cost a few thousand dollars. He started talking to landowners who were selling land outside the ashram, looking at parcels, talking to contractors and gathering as much information as he could. I could see he was seriously considering staying in India. We had seen Baba privately in several other interviews, in which He discouraged Joel, saying Puttaparthi was not the right place to buy land.’

-- Ms. Diana Baskin

(Source: The article is extracted from the book ‘Baba is God in Human Form’ by Mr. Prem Luthra – Serial No. 50.)