Easter Sunday 24 April 2011 started off as a normal day. I was in no hurry to get out of bed, eventually doing so at around 09:20. Whilst having my first cup of tea of the day I went about my morning routine of going online and posting my thought for the day on Facebook and checking other online stuff. I went into one of my email addresses and there was one solitary email, from my friend V in South Africa. It was very short and to the point; it said quite simply “Swami has left”. I was quite numb at first. My beloved Swami, Sri Sathya Sai Baba had left his physical body. There had been signs for some time that Baba was getting ready to go, and in recent weeks it became increasingly apparent that devotees were going to have to accept that this was the case. It was still hard to believe though; you don’t expect Swami to go, simply because he has always been there. For a number of hours I cried intermittently; not out of grief, for I know there is no such thing as death, but for the sheer love of Baba and the realisation that he gave so much to us, yet took nothing for himself. His love was, and still is, boundless and I am truly blessed to have been touched by Baba’s love on many, many occasions.
I count my blessings that I received the call to go to Baba’s ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam (abode of the highest peace), on two occasions in the 18 months preceding his physical departure. It was during my second visit in February 2010 that I got my first hint that “Divine Mother Sai” may be preparing to leave. I was chatting to an American guy who had an apartment in Puttaparthi, where the ashram is situated. He was saying how Swami’s physical health had been going rapidly downhill and that he had made an unprecedented gesture. Baba had made an announcement formally inviting devotees from all over the world to attend the ashram during 2010, on a pilgrimage basis. My friend told me that this had never been done before in all the years that Baba had been resident at Prasanthi (since the 1940’s). My friend went on to say that he felt Baba was getting ready to leave his body and this was his parting gesture of love to devotees worldwide. Because of the sheer volume of people the pilgrimage was organised with the utmost precision and only so many countries at a time could attend, for periods of ten days only. Of course, this only applied to the organised pilgrimages; anyone can go to Prasanthi as long as they receive the inner calling “not even 20,000 horses can bring you here if you are not called” Baba
At the time I remember thinking that this was not to be taken seriously, and I politely humoured my American friend. Little did I know how right he was. Now as I sit here and muse about this strange day it hasn’t quite sunk in that Sri Sathya Sai Baba has left his physical body. Probably because I’ve had so many inner experiences with Baba…… and a physical body has never been essential to our relationship in the past…. so why should it be now? He always touched me with his love across time and space; so often my eyes welled up with tears of joy as he enveloped me in his loving light. On one occasion he even blessed me with an astral experience by lifting me from my physical body and carrying me off into the ether.
I suppose that, at some stage, even God has to go home…..but I don’t expect it to change my relationship with him.
Jai Sai Ram