aba has a way of being so close, so completely with us, yet the next moment He is so ‘far away’. Who could know where to look
for Him, much less reach Him? A sudden smile or chuckle surprises and reassures; then the intense silence is resumed just as unexpectedly...writes Christopher Curtis Rudolf of the United States narrating a beautiful experience he and his father had with Bhagawan at Prasanthi Nilayam. Read on an extract from March, 1987 issue of Sanathana Sarathi.

Baba walks past me without a glance, pauses for a moment; stops and asks my Dad "What do you want?" He then turns and continues walking as though He is not interested in his answer. I have never seen my Dad look so confounded. He is anxious and fidgety. What would I say if Baba asked me that? …A ring? No! First of all, I should not sit here thinking selfishly what I would want; secondly, that is a material desire. I should want something spiritual. What a rare opportunity for Dad! I should think of what would be best for him, what would make him happy... Again Baba approaches, with His aura of focused silence; stops again and asks my Dad "What do you want?" He waits for a moment this time, and then resumes walking. For a second it looks like Dad was going to say something ...may be to ask a question, but he did not. He just shifts his legs; he looks troubled. Yes. I want a ring from Baba. (come on Dad; quit being selfish). Anyway, where do I get this idea all of a sudden that I want a ring! I have never worn a ring in my life! I thought I was above desires like this. I thought I was one who does not need to have Baba materialise something for me to develop faith.

For the third time, Baba comes around and stops at my Dad. This time it looks as though Baba is not going to budge from that spot, until He gets an answer. He stares at my Dad. Dad is really squirming. His eyes are red. What is it, Dad? (I wish I could help you...) "What do you want?" comes the question, slowly, for the third time. His face was stern, staring with a cold look, He waits and Dad, completely perplexed starts crying. "I... it is so ...it is just that I...Swami, I can not say it..." (Oh, Dad?) Baba's face remains serious, but His eyes soften. What is it that you are unable to express my Dad? "You are a minister (in Church) and teach people?” Baba says. "Yes...?” Dad looks up at Baba. "To teach properly you must first hear correctly. Then, digest what you hear. If only you hear and then teach without digesting, that is bad. That is not good teaching. Understanding and assimilation of the teaching that is heard is most important. First, you must hear correctly, and then you can teach correctly. But if there is no correct understanding, there can be no correct teaching. You understand!" “Yes." Baba looks down and makes three or four fast circles with His right hand, palm facing down; suddenly He makes a fist and holds it still; He turns His hand up and opens and what appears in His fingers is a large silver colored ring! Baba looks at the ring, and then at my Dad, who seems totally bewildered. Baba smiles; He takes hold of Dad's large right hand and slips the ring on... With an impulsive, awkward movement that is quite out of character; Dad removes his glasses and wipes tears. He looks astonished at what is now on his finger... "A ring I Oh! It's beautiful! And it fits perfectly! Oh Swami, Thank You! Oh, my, it's so beautiful!" His tears flow. (I have never seen him so moved, so happy). “Doctor! It is My pleasure!" Bhagawan says playfully, beaming. Suddenly it is time to go; everyone starts getting up with Baba takes leave.

"Can I see it, Dad?" Tears are streaming down his face. Holding his hand I am looking at a cameo of a three headed figure sitting cross legged on a large rock with a dog and other little animals at its feet. The ring's blues, reds and greens look liquid and other worldly. It does not look like something that was made new, nor antique, but truly ancient. We are walking out amidst the others, who are crowding around, anxious to see. We step outside. The voice of an elderly gentleman with white hair and glasses is heard: "Doctor, may I see the ring?” He is one of the very few, who is with Baba most of the time... Everyone lets him pass through to get closer to Dad. "Why, of course," Dad says, "Perhaps you could tell me what the image on it means.” The man looks at the ring for a moment, and then says, "Yes. This is Dattatreya." "Datta... Could you please repeat that...?" Dad gets out his pen and quickly scrawls on a scrap of paper that he pulls out from his pocket. "Certainly, Dattatreya. Dattatreya is the embodiment of the Divine Guru, the Spiritual Teacher. The three heads represent the faculties of right hearing, right understanding, and right teaching (1) Dattatreya is God Himself in the form of the Guru. Notice that on your ring He is seated in the pose of Sai Baba of Shirdi, Swami's previous incarnation" "Yes, I see that. What do the animals represent?" "Animals?" The man takes a closer look. "Oh yes. Yes, here." "Perhaps they symbolise man's lower nature," suggests my Dad. "Yes. That would make sense. And so, Dattatreya sits, with them at His feet, to symbolise mastery over the lower nature of man." "It is a beautiful ring; I have never seen one like this before during my time with Bhagawan” says the gentleman before taking leave. Dick was examining the ring. "Dick, tell me, who was that person explaining what the ring represents?" asks my Dad. "That's the top physicist of India” pat came the reply.

America’s well known deaf blind writer Helen Keller wrote once: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart. It is this genuine ‘feeling’, which comes from a pure heart that often leads man to do the right action…and what, if such a feeling emanates from the Divine Himself? Man does need to take a cue from it, to copy and emulate. Prof. N. Kasturi chronicled such an interesting episode from the life of The Divine, in the September, 1958 issue of Sanathana Sarathi.

It was some years ago, when the car road direct from Prasanthi Nilayam to Bukkapatnam did not exist; the Sri Sathya Sai Baba High School, Bukkapatnam, held its annual celebration of Bhagawan’s Birthday on the 23rd November, as usual. Bhagawan too blessed the boys by His Presence. After Bhajans, Bhagawan discoursed to the students and He wanted all the boys to go over to Puttaparthi and share in the celebrations there with the assembled devotees, as well as in the feast that had been arranged. While returning from the School to Karnatapalli (Karnatanagepalli) by car, Bhagawan saw the boys walking in the sun along the road to Puttaparthi. He could not bear the sight of the children trudging in the sun, even for a distance of two miles! So, He stopped His car and asked them to sit in the shade of the trees, promising to transport them by car to Karnatapalli (Karnatanagepalli)! So His car along with another three belonging to some devotees were put on this special assignment, while Bhagawan waited on the other bank of the Chitravathi for all of them to join Him. The devotees at Prasanthi Nilayam wondered why Bhagawan took such an extraordinarily long time to finish the High School function! It took full three hours for the cars to bring over the three hundred and odd school children and Bhagawan started His walk over the sands of the river, only after the teachers had assured Him that not a single boy had been left behind. Probably (why, most assuredly) no one, not even the children would have minded that short walk of two miles. But, He, in His compassion, did.