- Colusa, Kalifornien -
Colusa is an unlikely place for a miracle. It is a quiet farming town
in the fertile Central Valley of California, about four hours north of
San Francisco. As we approached the town, the smell of fertilizer permeated
the air and a dusty haze filtered the sunshine. Our car turned onto a
shady, tree-lined street with modest ranch houses.
We were greeted at the front door of the corner house by the owner, an
immigrant from Fiji who has resided in the United States for more than
years. He is a long-time devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the famous Avatar
or saint of southern India. Before his discovery of Sai Baba, our
host was a devout worshiper of the Lord Shiva, the God the Father
aspect of the Hindu Trinity. We were invited to enter the shrine room,
where holy songs or bhajans are sung to Sai Baba in a service of worship.
The shrine room is just to the right of the entrance hall, and it is the
most remarkable room I have ever seen.
The visual feast of pictures alone dazzles the eye. Every inch of wall-space
is filled with holy images of all sizes and descriptions: Sai Baba, Shirdi
Sai (the previous incarnation of Sai Baba), Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Ganesh,
and even the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A low platform stretches the full
length of the room, covered with more pictures, sculptures of Shiva Nataraj
in the dance of creation and the elephant-headed God Ganesh, a sacred
lingam, abundant flowers, and a red-upholstered chair and ottoman
dedicated to the symbolic and living presence of Sai Baba. There is no
other furniture in the room, since it is dedicated to worship. Pillows
are scattered on the floor for seating.
What makes this room special, however, is the living miracle taking place
within it. Pictures are oozing honey, or amrita, which accumulates on
the pictures before dripping into trays and plastic bags below. Sacred
ash, or vibhuti grows on many pictures, and some images are almost totally
covered by the flower-scented, soft gray ash. Other pictures have
materialized fragrant sandalwood or red kumkum, the substance used by
the priestly Brahmin caste of India to paint the symbolic sacred mark
between the eyebrows. A four-inch layer of vibhuti has accumulated on
the Sai Baba chair, and on one occasion the sacred OM symbol spontaneously
formed on the chairs surface. The symbol only disappeared when the
sacred ash continued to grow and covered it.
More miracles were evident in a small room off the hallway. The Fijian
devotee explained that the cup of water he offered to Sai Baba every day
for many years suddenly began to generate its own water. Now the overflow
pours into a huge punch bowl beneath the glass. Curiously, the water level
in the glass is always higher than the top edge of the glass. The water
also exudes a faint fragrance of jasmine.
I asked my host if I could leave two small crosses, gifts for friends,
in the small room to be blessed. He graciously agreed, and I returned
to the shrine room for a long evening of bhajans. This was a special evening
because it was the September celebration of Krishnas birthday. Three
hours of bhajans were followed by a break for fruit, tea, and a sweet
almond-cereal dessert. Then after two more hours of bhajans, a refreshing
curry dinner was offered to all the guests.
Miracles also occurred that evening. I was told during the late evening
dinner that the coconut placed on the altar before bhajans had been cracked
wide open by the time the singing was ended. I went to look, and saw that
it was true. Sai Baba had signaled His presence at the evening worship.
Devotees in India often smash coconuts at Sai Babas feet as a sign
of their devotion. This ritual symbolizes the death of the personality
and new life as a spiritual being.
A second miracle involved the crosses I left to be blessed. Each cross
had been placed in a small plastic cup with a lid, and when I went to
retrieve them I discovered each had a small amount of honey-amrita beneath
Another miracle associated with this Colusa home, which had happened many
months before, was recounted to me by one of my pilgrimage escorts during
our journey from San Francisco to Colusa. According to her eyewitness
account, Sai Baba miraculously appeared in a physical body inside the
front door of this Colusa home in June 1995. The miracle was also witnessed
by a busload of Sai Baba devotees from Los Angeles, who had just made
a 14-hour pilgrimage to see the miraculous Colusa pictures.
According to her story, the Fijian devotee rushed to greet Sai Baba at
the front door. Sai Baba asked him for a glass of water, and when he returned
with the water, the glass was slowly emptied before he reached Sai Baba.
After thanking him for the water, Sai Baba walked into the devotees
bedroom to give him a private interview, since he had never been to India
to see Sai Baba. When Sai Baba subsequently disappeared, He left a trail
of vibhuti footprints behind Him as evidence of His visit.
My own Baba miracle took place during the break between bhajan sessions.
I went into the living room and sat down on a couch to wait for the bathroom
to become available. Seated across from me was an Indian woman with dark,
blue-tinged skin dressed in traditional Indian clothing. I
noticed that she seemed autistic or empty of personality. Her eyes occasionally
rolled upward, and her head lolled about, moving in slow motion from side
Suddenly, she came alive. Vivid, joyful eyes looked at me, and she asked
me: Why have you come? I was completely taken aback by this
of persona, and I answered: Im waiting to use the bathroom.
An intensely joyous, playful look met my gaze, and she asked again: Why
are you here? All of a sudden, without any logical reason, I just
knew that this was Sai Baba. Not really trusting my intuitive recognition,
I could only stare at her in disbelief. No thoughts came into my head,
so I could not respond to her question. My one undying memory of that
moment is an image of those beautiful dark eyes, full of intense life
A woman walked by at that moment, looked at the Indian lady, and in a
graceful, loving gesture they both touched hands. This woman, a visiting
healer from Brazil, was one of my escorts to Colusa. Later in the evening,
when I was preparing to leave, I noticed that the Indian woman was still
sitting on the couch. But once again she was just an empty shell, devoid
of the playful personality and intensely vivid eyes of my brief encounter
a few hours before.
When I related my pilgrimage adventure to a Sai Baba devotee in San Rafael,
California, he commented: Dont you know? The two questions
you were asked are the first questions Sai Baba asks of every newcomer
to Prasanti Nilayam. Sai Babas ashram, about 100 miles inland
from Bangalore, India, is called Prasanti Nilayam, or Abode of Supreme
Peace. My miracle seems real but unprovable a tantalizing
spiritual mystery. What I do know for certain is that those joyful eyes
will be forever emblazoned upon my heart.
For information on pilgrimages to Colusa, contact the Sai Baba US headquarters
in Tustin, California, tel: 714-669-0522. The Sai Baba internet address
Carole Ashley is a Share International co-worker from Las Vegas, USA.
from: Share International October 1999
Reprinted courtesy of © Share