THE RAMALA CENTRE

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANIL KUMAR

David:  How did you first come to hear about Sai Baba and what attracted you to him in the first place?

Anil:  Back in the year 1970, an eminent devotee and a great scientist by the name of Dr. Bhagavantam happened to visit the town where I lived, and he gave a talk, narrating his experiences with Sai Baba in a most scientific manner, which made a deep impression on me. Later on that year I had some family problems, and so I went to Prasanthi Nilayam to ask Sai Baba for help. I can tell you that I didn't get an opportunity to talk to him, I didn't get to touch his feet and, as a result, I experienced five very unsuccessful days of togetherness. He was so divinely mischievous. He spoke to almost every person there but me, yet when I returned home I discovered that the family problem had been solved. The health of my wife had become very bad and when I was at Prasanthi Nilayam I prayed within myself saying, "If you really are God, then please give her back to me in good health. We have four children and if she dies I can't take care of the children by myself." Well, without talking to him, without any padanamaskara or anything of that sort, she regained perfect health. After this I started reading the discourses, Sathya Sai Speaks, and I became very inspired. As a student I was always first in elocution and debating contests, never in academics. I was never a gold medallist in studies, but in all the elocution competitions and inter-university competitions I always came first. I was very much interested in public speaking and learning effective communication skills. So having been inspired by Swami's discourses I started sharing with small groups about them, and then people started inviting me to come and talk to them about Sai Baba. This went on for eight years. I went to see Sai Baba on many occasions, but he ignored me, year after year, and not just me, but the whole row in which I was seated. I used to tell my friends that they could sit by me in the canteen and the hotel but never, never sit by me in darshan, because Sai Baba would certainly never look at them! However after eight long years of waiting he did call me and, what is more, he asked me to give a talk in the Poornachandra Auditorium and ever since I have been in close contact with him.

David: Will you tell us about how you first came into contact with Sai Baba? I know that you have told us this story before, but many of our readers will not have heard it, and I personally find it very amusing.

Anil: Well, in 1977, after eight years of exile, I was travelling to Prasanthi Nilayam when Sai Baba's car passed me by on the road going to Anantapur, so I turned around and followed him to Anantapur. There I discovered that Sai Baba was busy with some trust committee in the Girl's College. Now, in the Girl's College, as you well know, even male mosquitoes are not permitted to enter! So I was stuck outside the gate pleading with the watchman to allow me to enter, but he would not let me in and so I waited helplessly outside. Then Swami suddenly appeared at a door, surrounded by several important people, and the watchman took pity on me and said "Sir, you are free to walk a few steps inside the gate, but please don't go any further." I said, "OK" and walked in. Suddenly Swami shouted "Anil Kumar, come here" and I started running towards him, at the same time thinking, "How does he know my name? Why has he ignored me all these eight years? Why did he not look at me? Does he not know my problems?" whilst at the same time feeling totally blissful. Swami said, "Oh, last night you gave a lecture about me and everyone liked it" and then he said, "How is your wife?" I replied "Swami, it was she who brought me to you." "I know", he said, and then he materialised some vibhuthi for me and told me to come and see him in Puttaparthi.

David:  Tell us how you came to be Sai Baba's interpreter. What was the sequence of events that led up to your selection for this job?

Anil:  Well, I was the State President of the Sathya Sai Organisation in Andhra Pradesh, and as the State President I used to attend the World Council meetings. One year it so happened that Sai Baba convened a meeting of the members of the World Council in the Mandir. Suddenly he needed an interpreter and since I come from Andhra Pradesh where Telegu is spoken he immediately picked me out and asked me to interpret. At the end of the talk he just said "Oh, fast, very fast!" and that was that and no opportunity presented itself to act as interpreter again for some time. In 1989 I was appointed the principal of the Sathya Sai Baba College in Whitefield, the Brindavan Campus, and since that time I have been the regular interpreter. All that I can say about this role is that I'm not always a hundred per cent successful in interpreting, I'm not particularly competent at it and I'm certainly not the only man who can do it. I regard the role more as an opportunity extended to me than something that I have sought. It is more like a blessing conferred on me than an answer to a prayer. I have faltered many times and Sai Baba always corrects me, so I know that I still have a long way to go. I know that I am not perfect, but I just hope that I fulfil the needs of the devotees.

David:  By most people's standards you are very close to Sai Baba and I say this not only because you are his interpreter but also because, sitting on the verandah, you are in his presence most days and are always chatting to him. What has being close to Sai Baba taught you about him?

Anil:  I will be very frank with you, because I know that Western people, people such as the Americans and the British, appreciate frankness and I, in turn, appreciate them for that reason. Firstly, you say that I am close to Swami but, in my experience, the way to get close to Sai Baba is to never discuss personal matters with him and by personal matters I mean things like family problems, ashram problems, problems with colleagues, problems with the College, problems with my health, problems at home. Secondly, I'm very much interested in the message of Sai Baba and so I want to know everything about him, I want clarification on all his teachings because I'm interested in sharing them with anyone who wants to listen to me. It is a fact that when I talk and share with people about Sai Baba I forget where I am, I forget all my problems. I forget everything, because sharing the message of Sai gives me the greatest joy. So when I have doubts about any aspect of the teachings I want clarification, and who else can tell me but Sai.  So, slowly, I begin to tickle and tease Swami, to put him in an inconvenient position, even sometimes to cause irritation, so that I can draw a divine answer out of him, which I can then share with everybody. Thirdly, I tell him quite openly how happy I am with him, how nice he looks that morning, how beautiful is his dress, how sweet was his morning darshan, how well behaved are his schoolboys, how wonderful was his morning discourse and how well received it was by his devotees. I think that it is these three factors that have brought me close to him.

David:  What is the greatest truth that Swami has taught you?

Anil:  The greatest truth that Swami has taught me is a kind of preparedness to accept anything that comes to me in life, good or bad, acceptance, or if you want to use another term, spiritual surrender. Surrender, I think, is a higher word than accept. If something unpleasant happens in my life, well that doesn't make me run away from here. If manna from heaven falls upon me, well that doesn't make me feel egotistical or proud. I am prepared to accept with equanimity whatever happens to me, both the good times and the bad times, and no matter what does happen I will continue to love Sai Baba, to listen to his message, to share the joy, the thrill, the excitement of his mission with everybody. The greatest gift that Sai Baba can give me is to allow me to participate in his divine mission.

David:  I think that for most devotees that is a very difficult lesson to learn, especially for those who have got close to Swami, when he apparently starts ignoring them, and note that I say 'apparently'. They go to see him one trip and he recognises and speaks to them and then on the next trip he totally ignores them. They feel quite rejected.

Anil:   It's courtship!

David:  Yes, that's right, but it's still very difficult for devotees to accept what appears to be rejection.

Anil:  It is very similar to problems at home with the wife or with the children. If I spend a lot of time away from home working in the college or the ashram the children will say to me "Daddy you have no time to spend with us." Being a father is very demanding; I know that to be true.

David:  Would you like to tell us about the greatest manifestation that you have ever seen Swami do?

Anil:  For me his greatest manifestation is what I call his concern, his love. Let me give you an example. Several years ago I was waiting for the results of my son's engineering entrance examination, but on the very morning when the results were to be published the President of India, the first citizen of this country, was to visit Prasanthi Nilayam. Sai Baba slowly, softly, smilingly came walking up to me in darshan and standing in front of me he lifted up both of his arms and he enquired, "How are you, Sir?"  I replied, "Swami, I am very fine."  Sai Baba then said to me "How about your son?" and I replied, "Waiting for the results, Swami." Sai Baba responded "No, no. He is going to be selected, he is going to be an engineer, he is going to pass with distinction, don't worry, Anil Kumar." I immediately fell at his feet and I thought to myself "Oh God, when the President of India and all the VIPs are waiting at the door, you still manage to show concern for this little, unimportant fellow, Anil Kumar. I am grateful to you Swami, for this concern, this love, which rises above position, status and money."  So, yes, for me, his biggest manifestation is his love.

David: Ann and I were present Anil, that night in his house at Kodaikanal, when Swami materialised that watch for you after you had translated his speech. What is the greatest physical materialisation that you have seen him do?

Anil:  I don't know how many of you have heard of Balarama. Now Balarama was the brother of Krishna. Sai Baba announced one day that on the very next day he was going to invite his schoolboys and some guests to a very special lunch. I asked Swami why the lunch was 'special', to which he replied that he was going to speak on the subject of the wedding of Balarama to Revathi, because tomorrow was the anniversary of their wedding day. The lunch was to be a banquet with twenty-five items on the menu.  So on the very next day this special banquet, the wedding lunch, took place with twenty-five items on the menu, and foreigners and sundry guests of honour attended it. That evening Swami gave a talk. He described how all the Gods and Goddesses attended the wedding of Balarama and Revathi.  Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva all attended this divine celebration with all the other Gods and Goddesses and towards the end of the ceremony Brahma gave a wedding gift.  Someone asked Swami "What was the wedding gift?"  At this point in time Sai Baba's hand described three circles in the air, there was a buzzing sound like that of a honeybee and to the shock and astonishment of those present he materialised an article that was the size of a jug. Well, let me describe that article. It was an arch studded with diamonds, four rows of four, and there must have been around 200 diamonds in the arch. The frame of the arch was made up of gold with again diamonds in rows of four. There was a platform of gold, and in the centre an ornamental swan hung by a golden chain with diamond eyes and in the centre the stomach of the swan was like a glass, it was transparent. Everybody started looking at it in sheer amazement. Sai Baba said "Anil, look at it." "Oh, it is wonderful, Swami" I replied and he said "No, look at the nose of the swan." I said, " Yes, Swami, it is so beautiful." Sai Baba then said "No, look at the eyes of the swan." "Yes, Swami" I replied, "They are made of diamonds." "No, no" said Swami, "You are a fool," to which I responded "Swami, that is nothing new. I know that I am a fool. That is not saying anything that I do not already know. I am not about to become a fool all of a sudden. Let me continue to be a fool!" Then Swami said, "Look at the stomach, you fool." I looked at the stomach and what did I find there, nothing less than the figure of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in a reclining posture. Now that is manifestation. I don't think that I will ever see another manifestation like that in the years to come.

David:  We once made Sai Baba laugh in an interview by using the expression 'Baba stories', which is the name that we use to describe the stories that devotees pass around about Sai Baba's doings and materialisations. Indeed, Swami himself once said that Baba stories are better then bhajans, because people often go to sleep in bhajans whereas people always stay awake when Baba stories are being told because they are interested. What is the best Baba story that you have heard?

Anil:  Yes, some people do indeed go to sleep during bhajans, but that is for one reason only, they don't understand the meaning of the bhajans. They go to sleep because there is no yearning, no sincerity, no pining for God. People only sleep because they don't understand the meaning, because their heart is not ready, because their mind is full of worldly thoughts, of business and day-to-day matters. Baba stories, on the other hand, never put people to sleep because they are understood immediately, because they are full of fun and frolic, because they apply to our day-to-day situation, because they make you laugh. Let me give you a simple example. One day, in darshan, Sai Baba was talking to the children from the primary school. He asked one young boy, just six or seven years old, "Where do you come from, boy?"  The boy replied, "Swami, I come from you."  Sai Baba then turned around and said to all the VIP's sitting on the verandah "See, if I was to ask you that question, you would say "I come from Bombay" or "I come from Madras" or "I come from England", but this little boy says "I come from you", now that is divine. Children are divine. Then Sai Baba put a second question to the boy "How many brothers do you have?"  Back comes the reply "Swami, all are my brothers," Sai Baba then said "See how broad minded children are. This little boy considers all are his brothers, but if I were to ask you that question, you would say "Two brothers, Swami" or "Three brothers, Swami", you are so narrow minded."  Then Sai Baba put a third question to the boy "How many sisters do you have?"  Back comes the reply "Swami, all are my sisters." "No, no, no" said Sai Baba, "All are your sisters excepting one, your wife." Well, everybody laughed and then Sai Baba asked the boy "How many wives do you have?" to which the boy replied, "Swami, all are my wives." "Oh no, no, no, you are wrong," said Sai Baba, adding, "That boy thinks that he is smart enough to give a reply to Bhagavan." Then Swami said to the boy "Who are you?"  Back comes the reply "Swami, I am God." Sai Baba then said, "Well, if you are God, then you can go and give darshan " and everyone burst into laughter. People love his jokes, his humour.

David:  What do you regard as being the greatest success that has come from your relationship with Sai Baba?

Anil:  Yes, that is a good question. Do not misunderstand me if I put across this point of view. You may not agree with me. The Hindu philosophy is so vast that it can be very confusing. One school of philosophy speaks of Non-dualism or Advaita, another speaks of Qualified non-dualism or Vishista Advaita, another speaks of Dualism or Dvaita. Yet another school of philosophy advocates the worship of God in form, Sakara, another wants you to worship the formless God, Nirakara, another wants you to worship God without attributes, Nirguna, another wants you worship God with attributes, Saguna. What am I to do? One guru says that you should follow the path of action, Karma Yoga, another says that you should follow the path of devotion, Bhakti Yoga, and there are nine ways of devotion, another says that you should follow the path of wisdom, Jnana Yoga. There are literally thousands of Gods in existence and I sometimes think that the number of Gods exceeds the human population. What am I to do? It is at that moment that Sai Baba steps into my life. He teaches that jewels are many, but gold is one, that cows are many, but milk is one, that flowers are many, but worship is one, that beings are many, but breath is one, that stars are many, but sky is one, that nations are many, but Earth is one, that forms are many, but God is one. He teaches the principle of oneness, of unity, of Advaita. So the greatest gift that I have received from Sai Baba is clarity in my thought, accuracy in my approach, exactness in my practice, giving no scope for any doubt or confusion whatsoever. I've now got very clear views; no one can confuse me, because Sai Baba has given me a clear picture of philosophy. That is the greatest gift that Sai Baba could have given me and I want nothing more from him than that. I don't want any of the rings, chains or lockets that he gives away. That stage has gone forever.  

David: Can you look back and see some incident in your relationship with Sai Baba where at the time you thought it was a great mistake, a failure, but, on looking back now, you can see it as a great learning experience? Was there ever a time when you thought that you had really blown it but, subsequently, it turned out to produce a giant leap in faith or consciousness for you?

Anil:  On a personal note, I come from a family that, for three generations now, has followed a religion, which worships God without a form; a God Who does not experience either birth or death. We worship a God without attributes. We don't believe in reincarnation. We don't accept Rama and Krishna. We don't follow any form of worship. We think of God as a phenomenon, as a being Who is beyond birth and death. Now I was brought up in that belief, so Sai Baba took eight years to make me deserving enough to accept him, to make me ready to accept his philosophy, to make me ripe enough to absorb what he had to give me. So I had an eight-year period of probation, to make me more sympathetic, more receptive, to him. At the time it wasn't a very pleasant experience, but looking back now I can see that it was necessary for me, and so I have no regrets.  

David:  More and more foreigners are coming to the ashram, especially in recent years. As I look at the scarves of the devotees in the darshan lines I am continually seeing the emblems of countries that I have never seen before, some from quite small and remote countries. Has Sai Baba ever said anything to you about the foreigners that come to the ashram and what is their purpose in his mission?

Anil:  Well, I'm not very happy when I say that I have to envy you your position. We Indians feel very, very jealous about this, but I will be honest with you! Sai Baba is often telling his students and those people who are very close to him physically that if they want to learn what devotion is they should watch the foreigners. Sai Baba says that even if he doesn't talk to the foreigners, even if he doesn't look directly at them, even if he does not get physically close to them, what a tremendous satisfaction they still get just from watching him in darshan. He says that their eyes dance in ecstasy, their faces break into smiles and are fall of joy and bliss, like 1,000 watt light bulbs, whereas many of the Indians are unsmiling and their faces look like they've taken castor oil.  Sai Baba also says that if he says "Hello" to a foreigner and asks him where he comes from, all of his friends gather around him afterwards and say "Swami talked to you, what did he say, share with us how it felt" and they share their joy around, whereas many of the Indians are jealous and feel envious that Swami has spoken to someone else. Swami also points out that immediately after darshan many Indians get up and walk away, whereas the foreigners sit in silence and meditate and think of Swami and, as a result, they receive the divine energy from Swami, whereas the Indians start to gossip and so lose that energy. Sai Baba compares the foreigners to honey bees who fly long distances, land on the lotus flower of Bhagavan and suck up the nectar of the divine, partake of his message and mission, and then return to their own countries full of satisfaction, joy and bliss, with good thoughts of Swami whereas many Indians are like frogs, hiding under the leaves of the lotus flower, unaware of the divine nectar that is available to them.  Sai Baba says that they are near but not dear to him. On one occasion Sai Baba used the analogy of a lighthouse to make the same point. He said that Sai Baba is like a lighthouse. The light from the light house goes to far off distances but right underneath the light house there is a shadow, a place of total darkness, and so those from afar bask in the light of the lighthouse, whereas those that are close to it live in darkness or ignorance of the light.  Sai Baba has also said that many foreigners have a better knowledge of Sai Teachings, read more of Sai literature, exemplify his message more purely than many Indians.  Finally, most foreigners come from a very high standard of life and here in Puttaparthi they bear many inconveniences gladly. Why do they do this? It is for Swami.  Anyway I am going to stop here because I don't want to criticise myself anymore by recalling anything further that Swami has said about this subject!

David:  The next ten years are supposed to be very difficult years both for the planet and for Humanity living on it. Have you heard anything about this from Swami, about what is going to be taking place on the Earth in the next ten years and I'm talking now in terms of major Earth changes?

Anil:  Well I personally don't think that such changes are all going to happen in a ten-year period. Sai Baba has talked about the future, but only in general terms of it being confusing, disturbing and agitating. He has said that there will be no peace in the home, no harmony in the home, no understanding even amongst the members of the same family. There will be no peace in society at large as, with the advances in the fields of science and technology, Man is acquiring more and more conveniences, more and more material possessions and, as a result, is becoming utterly selfish. As a direct result of this Man is denied both joy and happiness and a realisation of the divinity within him He is living the life of an animal.  It is because of this that Sai Baba is here.  It is in this time of turmoil and turbulence that the Sai message is so desperately needed. The Sai Baba mission has come to teach us satisfaction, commitment, dedication and selfless service, love and forbearance. Our divine qualities will give us greater joy than any business or self-centred interest, they will remove all traces of I and mine and family self-centredness.

David:  Even though more and more Westerners are now coming to India each year to see Sai Baba, it is obviously impossible for all Westerners to do this, because they cannot all fly to Puttaparthi, both for reasons of money and airline availability, so in what way do you think Swami is going to reach those Westerners who cannot come, how is he going to touch the consciousness of the West?

Anil:  Sai Baba has given us an example.  In an army a general is in control of a formation of ten thousand men. The general is one, but he controls thousands of men and in similar fashion every foreigner when he returns home will be able to influence thousands of other foreigners. Those who come to Puttaparthi are the selected few who are going to influence thousands of devotees both now and in the future.  For example, Howard Murphet's books have influenced thousands and thousands of people all over the world and will continue to do so. Remember the influence of Jesus Christ's apostles, how they spread his message all over the world. Similarly, today, the few disciples of Sri Rama Krishna have spread the Rama Krishna mission all over the world. Change is always going to be brought about by the few. Remember it only takes a spoonful of sugar to make a tumbler full of water sweet. So one person is all that it takes to bring about a change in many.

David:  One of the main points of misunderstanding between Westerners and Sai Baba, in my opinion, is over this issue of time. Sai Baba says "I will see you tomorrow", but then tomorrow comes and he doesn't see the person, because his 'tomorrow' is obviously not our 'tomorrow'. Some devotees get really upset by this apparent breaking of a promise, by someone who they have been told is God not behaving as they think God should.  What is your experience of Swami's time?

Anil:  Yes, there are two standards of time. Human time is bound by the sunrise and sunset, the day and the night, and is based on the now, whereas divine time encompasses the past, the present and the future. Whatever Sai Baba says is based on divine time. For example, when I say tomorrow, I mean during the twenty-four hour period of the very next day, whereas when Swami says tomorrow it could mean any day because he thinks of the past, the present and the future as one. Then you may say "Well, why is this so, why does he confuse us?" The answer is that it really doesn't matter what day he sees you, because the day that he chooses will serve your purpose the best in the long run. He is not just thinking of the immediate future, as you do, he is thinking of past, present and future and of what is going to help you in the long run. You tend to think only of material benefit, whilst he thinks of spiritual benefit, benefit for all time.

David:   Anil, what has your relationship with Swami taught you about God?

Anil:   I take it by God, you mean the God within?

David:  Yes.

Anil:  Whenever I give a talk, either in Kodaikanal or in the EHV Building here in Prasanthi Nilayam, I never prepare my talk beforehand. Moreover, Swami will suddenly say to me "Anil, get up and say something" and if I feel like talking on devotion, then, he will ask me to speak on wisdom and vice versa!  So all my talks are unprepared and that is the way that Swami has brought me up ever since 1978, when I gave my first talk. The miracle of miracles is how everything always works out and how it always seems to be what people want. This, of course, is all down to Swami, because he chooses the subject matter, the points to be made and the way in which the talk unfolds. So this, above all, makes me feel that he is God. When he asks me certain questions and I answer, I often wonder how I managed to answer like that, because I know only too well how I would normally answer. One thing I do know is that you will never have the last word with Swami; he will always outsmart you.  Let me give you an example.

An elderly professor who sits on the verandah one day told Swami that he was suffering from cataracts and so Swami told him to go to the hospital and have a check up. Then he looked at me and said, "You also have cataracts."  I said, "Swami, I have glasses, I don't have cataracts", to which Swami replied "I can see you have glasses, but you have cataracts in both your eyes." I said "Swami, me?" "Yes, you!" said Swami. "One eye is suffering from the cataract of attachment, the other eye is suffering from the cataract of ego" to which I replied, "Well, if that is so, Swami, then it is time for an operation. You are the divine doctor, so why don't you operate right now." Everybody laughed. Then Swami, who is the divine master and always has the last word said "But the problem is not only in your eyes, because from top to bottom you are diseased with ego and attachment. "Then" I said to Swami "This calls for major surgery, an immediate operation, please do it at once." Sai Baba replied "Oh, no, if you don't come to me what can I do. If you come to me, then, I will operate, but you have not yet come to me, so what can I do?" I then said to Swami "Swami, when am I not with you? Am I not serving in your college for the ninth successive year?" "Ah" said Sai Baba "You are physically here, but mentally you are somewhere else, so unless you are mentally and physically here and totally surrender to me, how can I operate." Game, set and match to Swami!

Once I said to Swami in Kodaikanal "Swami, you say that I am not the body, I can accept that. You say that I am not the mind, I can accept that too. You say that I am not the intellect, that seems reasonable too. You say that I am atma, I hope that that is true. So the question I want to ask is this - when you ask someone in darshan "When did you come?" what exactly are you asking, because if we are not our body, then, the body has not come, if we are not our mind, then, the mind has not come, if we are not our intellect, then, the intellect has not come, so I can only be here as atma, so why do you bother to talk to me? Swami replied "If you really feel that you are atma, then, I wouldn't put that question to you at all, but because you think that you are the body, then, I ask you that question.  If you really feel that you are the spirit, I would not put that question to you at all."  Game, set and match to Swami again!  You can never catch him out.

I find that there are the moments of personal attachment, when God enters into my life and I get closely linked and associated with Him, when I am touched by His love and concern for me. The mistake in identity only comes when we put God on a high pedestal and say to Him "I know that you are God and that I am human, nevertheless, I know that I can meet you when I go to church on Sunday or when I go to temple on Thursday, because I know that you will be there."  The reality is not like that at all.  God is in your heart and understands everything that you think, say and do.  He knows the innermost secrets of your heart. Let me give you one final example. One day, in darshan, I was reading a letter from my daughter, who is a doctor in the USA, in Minneapolis. She was doing her internship there at the time and she had written me a very touching letter in which she told me not to worry about her, adding that Americans were very kind people, who were always ready to help her. She had experienced no problems in settling down there and in being accepted by American society. She then went on to relate about a little miracle that had happened to her.
 

One day, while returning home from the hospital, she missed a turning and got lost. She could not find the way back to the hostel where she was staying. Even though she felt like crying, she began singing some of Swami's bhajans instead and prayed to Swami for help. Immediately an American stopped his car and said, "May I help you? Where do you want to go?" She gave him her address and he dropped her off at her hostel. She concluded her letter by saying "Daddy, don't worry about me."  I folded the letter and put it in my pocket, wiping away the tears of joy that were flowing down my cheeks, and then suddenly I realised that Swami was standing in front of me and so I started smiling and pretended to be happy. Swami said to me "Where is the letter?"  I replied "Letter, Swami?" not wanting him to know about my daughter's letter. "Yes, the letter," said Swami "the one that is there in your pocket, give it to me." I replied, "But Swami, it is a personal letter" to which he responded, "Oh, is there anything personal between you and me? Shall I tell you the contents of that letter? If you are not going to give it to me, I will tell you what is written in it." I said, "Swami, it is a letter from my daughter." Sai Baba then said "Your daughter in America constantly thinks of me, whilst you, who are here close to me, think only of your daughter in America! That is the difference."

Ann: I would just like to ask you one question before we finish this interview. I have got very confused lately, because although I used to be very attached to Swami's physical form I am now starting to relate more to his omnipresence, but I find it very hard to relate the form to the omnipresence. I know that I am looking at his body and that he is not the body, or even the mind, as you have been saying, so how do you handle this problem?

Anil: Well, I think that the answer to that question is going to be the next step in your spiritual sadhana. There are many instances when we see Swami's face right in the face of the man sitting next to us. Even though he is formless we still see Swami's face there. Similarly, when we are listening to someone talking to us, we suddenly hear Swami's voice. Sometimes we might even feel that Swami walking along side us. Now that is omnipresence. So let us just remember that all names, all forms are his, and try to shift our consciousness from the limited to the unlimited, from the finite to the infinite, from the form to the formless.