In autumn 1974, I spent several months in Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. German friends living in the Ashram since ten years invited me. Though Mother had passed away in 1973, I felt very very near to her. For many years, She and Sri Aurobindo had been an inner Guru to me. Home again in Hamburg, in February 1975, I made up my mind to return to Pondicherry at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, a friend gave me the book, "Sai Baba, Man of Miracles", by Murphet of Australia. She said, "Perhaps, you may see Him in India.” I was strongly impressed by the book and I decided to see Sai Baba.
While at Pondicherry, I prayed to Sai Baba for help. An American lady who visited the Ashram met me by accident. She told me that I could try to reach Him from Bangalore. Very soon, a member of the "Servas", organisation to which I belonged came to my room; we had not met for ten long years. She wrote to another member, Mr. Sharma, at Bangalore, to receive me there and help me.
He was at Vallabh Niketan, Bangalore; to my surprise I was told that Sai Baba devotees had their gatherings in that very place. So, I could join a party of devotees proceeding in a private bus, on November 6, to take part in the World Conference of Sai Baba Organisations as delegates, at Sai Baba's own place.
Arriving at Puttaparthi, the place where Sai Baba had His headquarters, I was cordially received by a young man. He asked me, "Are you a delegate?" I replied, "Oh, No. I only got here by accident!" "Then, you must indeed be blessed,” he said.
In the afternoon, I was sitting in the Darshan line. Sai Baba came out of the temple in a dark orange robe. Slowly He came nearer. "Oh! I should paint Him.” This wish came into me spontaneously. When He passed by, He gave me a deep look, smiled and inclined His head slightly towards me. Happiness flowed through me. I had found the living Guru for myself.
Since the place was filling up quite fast, I felt I should not stay, since all available accommodation was reserved for delegates. But, the young man who had met me on arrival advised, "Not so quick. You have to seek and secure Baba's permission to leave!" Half an hour later, he told me that Sai Baba wished me to stay for the Conference, and for His Birthday! My heart was full of joy and gratitude.
Happy at the turn of events, I sat on the Darshan line. Swami coming out turned at me, and gave me Vibhuti, created by a circular movement of His palm.
Someone told me of a lady devotee who was expected to arrive for the Conference as a delegate. I had read about her in the book by Murphet, and admired her as the first German lady who had experienced the Baba miracles on the sands of the river Chitravati. My room could well take another occupant and I prayed within myself to Sai Baba to give the place to her. Her name, I remembered, was Gabriella Steyer.
At 1600 hours that day, a lady came in, looked around and departed quickly. At breakfast next morning, it so happened that we sat next to each other. She told me, "I was asked to share your room; but, it seemed too damp for me. I found a place in the second floor. But, it was a terrible night for me. Some one was snoring and sneezing. I could not get a wink of sleep.”
We found that we both were talking German! I asked her, "Do you, perhaps, know Gabriella Steyer?" She replied, with a laugh, "Oh, yes. That's me!" "Then," I said, "Sai Baba sent you to my room, as I prayed to Him to do. Since you did not follow His response to my prayer, He gave you that terrible night." Needless to say, she came into my room and we became good friends.
The World Conference! What a flood of happiness and spiritual inspiration! The Poornachandra Auditorium was filled up to the very last row! Many interesting and informative speeches! Unforgettable were the Bhajans sung by Baba. Also, His materialiations, such as a Japamala for an old Vedic scholar.
On His Birthday, Swami came round on a helicopter, circling the Stupa of all Religions, waving His white handkerchief at us—a new kind of Darshan!
After His Birthday, I decided to leave; so, I sat on the Darshan Line, and prayed to Swami within myself, "You have brought me to your Presence in a quite unforeseen way. Please send me back now.” At once, I heard His Voice, "Adi! Come in."
I woke, as if from a dream. "Yes! Adi! Come in,” He repeated. So I did. He was giving interviews to many. He materialised a beautiful golden chain for a young Indian lady and gave it to her saying, "No depressions any more. This will guard you.” Then, Baba turned to me. At the end of a short talk, He told me that He had arranged a bus to take me and others to Bangalore!
On December 24, when I went to Whitefield to have Darshan, Swami was leaving for Puttaparthi! He told me to follow Him. At 9 P. M. the taxi arrived and, through the clear star lit night with a shining white half-moon lying on his back, off we went to Puttaparthi.
I joined the morning Omkar for the first time; I was so taken by its strong vibration that I felt myself dropping in the ocean of God's Love. In the afternoon, Baba spoke of Christ and on the true significance of His words which the world has missed.
Far far away from home, that Day gave me all the happiness and bliss of Christmas. The warm hearted greetings from devotees made me feel at home.
On the last day of the year, Swami called me for an interview. "What do you want?" He asked. "Oh, quite a lot!" I replied. "But, my main wish is that you look at the watercolor landscapes I painted for your Birthday... Chitravati with the hills beyond, and the expanse of sand where you thrilled your devotees with miracles.” He looked at them and said, "Oh, I am very happy,” He went through the pages of my sketch book and all the little drawings. At this, I mustered enough courage to ask, "Would you allow me to paint you?" "Yes! I would be very happy. Do it when I am back at Whitefield.”
Then, He looked into my eyes and said, "But, first let me set right your physical condition. Your health is not quite what it ought to be." Then, He materialised a little OM locket for me. For me it was the happiest day of the year; I felt overwhelmed with joy.
At 6 30 the next morning, I went up the Hill behind the Nilayam. From the crest, you can see the glory of the rising Sun and on the west, the beautiful valleys carpeted with green fields. The stream of Chitravati is charming, with the, backdrop of many-shaped multi coloured hills. The roseate light of the fleeting morning granted delightful thrills to the onlooker. I sat painting the scene, and I went again the next morning, to give my work the last touches. But, I got very angry with myself, for, I had forgotten my, sketch book. A voice rebuked me. "It is Sunday, You should enjoy this lovely morning. Follow the little path up the hill, for a change.” I obeyed. The path led me into a little green valley full of beauty and peace. There in the middle of the valley I found two stone structures and a young man was singing Bhajans. He took me to a cool spring that came through the rocks. Many instances I could recall where Baba guided me miraculously from inside me. But, I know His devotees can recount many more.
I am leaving for Germany, thinking of all the months spent in the Presence and Omnipresence of our Beloved Swami. He has taught me many lessons, easy and hard. I know that I have changed a lot and I plan to change and develop further. I am taking with me the picture of Swami, in my sketch book as well as in my heart. I hope to accomplish my wish painting a fine picture for Him and becoming a fine picture for Him, of purity, humility and love, which He will bless.