Excerpts from Mr. Bhanoji Rao’s…
In connection with a job search, I once met an elderly and well educated person. I showed him a copy of a book that I wrote. He looked at the second page where it was noted that the book was dedicated to “Bhagawan, Amma and Nanna”. He asked me who the “Bhagawan” was. I have stated that the Bhagawan is Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The scholar quickly and unhesitatingly remarked that Baba might be a great saint, but certainly not Bhagawan (God). After a while I collected the copy of my book and left the company of the Scholar.
I left the Scholar, but, I could not leave my thoughts. The Scholar’s remark was all the time in my mind. Apparently his contention was that Swami could not be God. A response came to my mind. He who can say that Swami is not God must have to prove that he has known God. Suppose I see a metal and say that it is not gold, it is implied that I know gold. Similarly if some one says that Swami is not God, then it is implicit that he can recognize God. Indeed, the individual ought to be knowing God thoroughly well, otherwise, he can not distinguish God from others who are not. So, I have decided that if some one says that my Swami is not God, I will simply ask him: “How do you know?”
Frankly, the fact that I have discovered that question has pleased me for a while only. After all just as I can ask: “How do you know Swami Is not God?” I may be easily subjected to the counter question “How do you know He Is God?” Naturally it is very desirable to know the answer to this question rather than to learn to raise the previous one.
Until I progress in my sadhana and become closer and closer to Him so that I can see Him in Absolute Unmanifest as well as relatively manifest Swami, I can not really know the answer to the question: “How do you know Swami Is God?” But, though it is not needed to begin my sadhana, simply to enjoy the bliss that Swami gives me, I ought to have some answer, more down to earth of course, to the said question. Also it is not palatable to my ego to evade the answer to the question by saying that sadhana alone will give the answer (though this is the true answer). Hence I came to a conclusion. Until one can identify through sadhana the manifestation of The Absolute in the form of Swami, one needs some transient working proof to cultivate the faith that Swami Is God, and to be guided by this faith on the path of sadhana. Most Sai devotees, I believe, have used the following characteristics of Swami as the proof of His Divinity and to say that He Is God.
The Supernatural phenomena associated with Him (only God can do them).
His emphasis on all religions (only one absolute God or his real manifestation can emphasize this.)
His pure love (He gives and gives and forgives, never asking anything in return except love. One has to shed a thousand tears and beg Him to accept even a small gift which He does only to please His devotee).
The transformation He brings about in human behaviour (only God can correct people since He does this out of love)
It is important to recognize why the above characteristics are noticed as the proof that Swami Is God. I think it is because none of us wish to consider anything less than the above as characterizing God. This is so because the ego in us does not permit us to see God in everyone and everywhere. We direly need a personal God because we like to be corrected, questioned, patted and loved by someone much higher than the average human beings. For all these reasons we see Swami as God. Clearly this is not the real proof. Real proof can be obtained only through sadhana and only when it can be realized that The Absolute has indeed manifested as Swami and also when it is realized that The Absolute is also manifested in all creation.
Thanks to Swami, I have learnt one thing. Every time I meet people who say that Swami Is not God I have learnt to respect them and not to argue with them. For, what I know is no superior to what they think they know. I cannot prove and they cannot disprove. If my faith gives me joy and bliss, they too get something out of their faith.
For common people like me, the nice distinctions between yogi, saint, sage, Incarnation and Absolute God are totally irrelevant. All of them are Divine just as one’s mother, father and teacher are.