A Letter from Howard Murphet
Reflections by Dr G Venkataraman
Sai Ram. It is some time since I did a reflection piece - unfortunately, I have been too busy to attend to this responsibility of mine. Yet, recent events have compelled me to abandon my [untenable] excuse, and what compelled me to do so was an open letter from Howard Murphet that somehow found its way to me, via the miracle of modern electronics.
Just prior to receiving this moving essay, I was
deluged by a whole bunch
of negative newspaper comments in Britain, triggered by an unsavoury
documentary produced by a TV channel on Swami. Determined though I was not
to be affected by this news from the gutter, being human, I could not help
feeling some pain in my Heart. That was when this letter came to me - I
Murphet came to Swami a long, long time ago. An Australian, he had seen action in World War II as a soldier. War over, he turned, being of a spiritual bent of mind, towards oriental philosophy, Theosophy, occultism, etc. In his explorations, he came across a book on Shirdi Baba. About this he writes: It was a book written by an Englishman [The Incredible Sai Baba, by Arthur Osborne] and published in England that first introduced me to the strange, fascinating figure known as Sai Baba of Shirdi. Later I learned more about this miracle-working God-man from other writings, including the four-volume biography by B.V. Narasimha Swami, but from the first introduction to him, I felt a deep stir within me - as if something pulled on a cord attached to the core of my innermost self. I could not understand what it meant.
Murphet picked up the book on Shirdi Baba (sometime in
the early sixties)
while in England. Later he toured Europe, and started on the return
Concerning this he says:
After spending some time in Europe, my wife and I decided to stop for a while in India on our way home to Australia. We had two purposes in view. One was to go more deeply into Theosophy by attending the six-month 'School of Wisdom' course at the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, in Adyar, Madras.
Our second purpose was to travel through the country to discover if there was any deeper spiritual dimension in the life of modern India. ...Our search took us to several of the well-known Ashrams throughout the length of India, and to a few little-known ones. We sat and talked with ascetics and hermits in their caves in the Himalayas. We met a good variety of Sadhus, and teachers of different types of yogas.
From the hermitages of the Himalayas and the Ashrams
along the sacred
Ganges we came back to New Delhi. There, at a leading social club, we met
a top business executive who said, "So, you are looking for the spiritual
India. There is none! That's all past. We are looking for what you have in
the West - material progress." In another place, a Professor of History
also tried to dampen our enthusiasm. "Believe me," he said, "there is no
spirituality left in this country. In the India of old there was, but it
Murphet did not accept these negative views. He felt it
in his guts that
all these people were wrong, and went to an ashram near Agra to have talks
with the people there. In the course of his conversations, he heard a
According to this, a young seeker asked a Guru: "How do I find God
Incarnate?" The reply given was: "Pray everyday to God that He will lead
you to the Man in whom He is at present incarnated." The man who narrated
this incident to Murphet added, "I suggest the same to you now. Such a
prayer will undoubtedly be answered. And when it is, please write and let
Murphet stored this advice away in his brain, and continued his wanderings,in the course of which, he came across a yogi. This was a turning point.
Let us hear about it from Murphet himself.
I first heard the name of Sathya Sai Baba from a wandering yogi. He had nothimself met this Holy Man, he said, nor been to his ashram at a village called Puttaparthi. This, he had heard, was a difficult place to reach, being in the wilds of the interior; one had to do the last part of the journey on a bullock cart or on foot over rough tracks. Still, the Swami was no doubt worth the effort, the yogi thought, if I had the time and interested in phenomena. He was known to have Siddhis [occult powers] and to be a great miracle-worker.
"What kind of miracles?" I asked.
"Well, it is said that he can, for instance, produce objects from nowhere.Of course, there are other men who have some of the Siddhis. They can do a few super-normal feats, but from the reports, Sai Baba's powers are much greater. And he performs miracles frequently. Anyone can see them."
Such talk certainly aroused my interest and curiosity. I had heard [who had not?] that India was the crucible of wonder-workers. I had read of the great adepts, occultists, saints of the past who knew Nature's Inner Laws. But I had doubted their actual reality. And even if they once existed, could they still be found? This, I thought, might be my great chance to find out if the fantastic tales that have come out of India belong to the realm of fact or fiction. I decided that I must see Sathya Sai Baba as soon as convenient. Later when I heard that his followers regarded him as a reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, my desire to meet him became even stronger.
To cut a long story short, Murphet did see Bhagavan shortly thereafter in Madras, when he was attending the school mentioned above. At around the same time, Swami also had come to the city at the behest of many devotees there. Murphet had the Darshan of Baba, saw miracles, was astonished at first, then wondered about them, and finally realised that the Divinity of Bhagavan was primary while miracles were merely a manifestation of His Love. Murphet quickly caught on to the fact that Baba is an Incarnation of the Lord, and that when the Lord comes in human form, He is to be recognised not by superhuman phenomena or aspects but by the Divine qualities of Pure Love, Compassion, Selfless Sacrifice, and limitless Forbearance.
His prayers having been answered and having seen the Incarnation with his own eyes, Murphet spared no pains to share his 'discovery' with the rest of the world. He did this through many books and of course also lectures, especially in his country. Result: incredulous foreigners started flocking to the remote hamlet of Puttaparthi in increasing numbers, to come face to face with the Living God. Murphet himself made many trips India to have Baba's Darshan, and continued doing so even after he passed the ripe old age of ninety. He it was who 'introduced' Baba 'Down Under', to Australia.
Naturally, Swami always had a soft corner for Murphet and would greet him by asking, "Murphet, are you perfect?" Invariably, it produced laughter all round. To the devotees present, Swami would introduce Murphet as the 'Old Australian Tiger!' The merit of earlier births earned for this nice old gentleman the privilege of spreading Swami's Name and Message in his own way and earning more Divine Grace thereby. As Krishna says in the Gita, blessed are they who speak about the Lord, and spread His Message.
Murphet is now 95 years of age. He has been blind now for many years, but still writes, using a Dictaphone from which others then transcribe. The letter reproduced below is one of his latest writings. What devotion and what commitment! And how, despite his advanced age and handicap, he is prepared to speak out boldly in the cause of Truth!
I found in Murphet's letter all the courage and
inspiration I needed to
snap out of my fleeting spell of despondency. I hope you, dear Reader,
will find it to be so too.
My good friends - or some of them - in the Sai movement have expressed the opinion that the present time is really the dividing of the ways, "the sifting of the chaff from the grain", or what the Bible might call the dividing of the sheep from the goats. Whichever the way we see it this is a difficult time for some people, especially for those followers of Sai Baba who are fairly new.
Many of you will have read some of my books, so you
know perhaps that I am
I know that there are others in India who have the Siddhis (occult powers) for materialisation. Some of them are masters on the right path while others are on the left hand path of the black magicians. In most cases they have trained servants in the astral realm who carry out things for them, as they desire - I mean bringing material objects such as trinkets, food and so on. So you might say that the fact that Swami materialises things is really no proof that He is an Avatar of God. In His case, though, He goes further than that. He does what only a Being bearing the Christ Consciousness or the Divine Consciousness on Earth can do and I have witnessed many of these phenomena. One instance is the conversion of one type of matter to another, which labels Him as a 'Master of Matter'. One such instance that I was a witness to was the conversion of a piece of granite rock into edible candy, while the rock never left my sight. I examined it before, and afterwards ate some of the candy. Only the Divine One can do such a thing as that. Another example that He did when the necessity arose, was to convert a bucket of ordinary water, drawn from a well nearby, into a bucketful of petrol by stirring the water with His forefinger. It was then poured into the petrol tank of the car, and the car continued on the journey, using the petrol that Swami had converted from water.
These incidents, and other juggling of the atoms to
change one type of
matter to another, are things that convince me of His Divine
You must have read about all of this in my books, yet the greatest of His miracles is the Divine Love by which he brings about a deep change in the nature of people, His followers. I have described this inner change which might be called the 'Birth of the Divine Child Within Us', or the initiation into Divine Life. Many, many people, throughout the years, have been changed in this way - this deep-rooted inner change is really your first step on the homeward journey.
Then there is the great compassion of Sai Baba, which requires miraculous action for its fulfillment. You have read in one of my books that some years ago - in fact in 1982 - when I was diagnosed as having an incurable disease, I prayed very earnestly to Sai Baba, my Guru. I was in a beautiful room in the Adelaide Hills, while Sai Baba (in the body) was of course at that time in India at His Ashram. My prayer was so intense that after a sleep on a couch where the sun was shining through the windows, I woke up to see Swami s head and arm as it circled over me, and I knew that He had come and that this was a healing gesture.
I saw it in that brief time between sleep and being fully awake, which, as you may have heard, is a time when everybody has a short period of clairvoyance. When that short period passed, His hand and body disappeared from my vision, but He was still there in the room. I knew this by the unbelievably soul-moving sense of the luminous in the room. In fact the room was filled by it, and it penetrated the wall to where my wife was sitting in the breakfast room, and then when Swami left, the luminosity went too. This is what the ancient Romans called "the sense of the Presence of the Divine" (the luminous or Lumina). Well, I knew then that I was cured of the disease, and tests afterwards proved that this was so.
There are people I know who have had the clairvoyant
vision of Swami's
subtle form, almost every day, and He has the power to appear in more than
All these petty and ridiculous allegations that are circulating about One who is God - One whom we should realise cannot be measured with the measuring tape of the ordinary human mind - I find myself paying no heed to whatsoever. They arise through the activities of some egos, anxious either to bring the Great One down to their own level, so that their own personal egos may grow, as they try to climb the ladder of Divinity. At the same time they are serving the dark forces that are battling hard today against the Light that the Avatar is shedding on Earth.
I know, too, that He is being supported by many workers
in the force-field
of light, such as the Ascended Masters, two of whom I had much to do with
while I was researching the biographies of the outward founders of the
Theosophical Movement. They are Master El Morya and Master Kuthumi, who
are two of the most powerful Masters behind the launching of the
Theosophical Society in the last century. Their purpose, in Their own
words, was "to turn the crest wave of intellectual thought that was being
enlarged by the rapid growth of science during the latter half of the last
century, to turn this - or at least some of it - towards the spiritual
shores instead of letting it
These two great Ascended Masters have given the weight of their spiritual perception and knowledge, to confirm what I myself, and many others throughout the world, have experienced. I feel beyond doubt that we are greatly honoured to have an Avatar of the caliber of Sai Baba on Earth amongst us today. The two Masters stated in the book, 'The Light will Set You Free' that, "Avatar Sai Baba is carrying the Divine Consciousness in the world today."
Another great Indian saint and seer, about whom you
have all read in the
'Autobiography of a Yogi', by Paramahamsa Yogananada, is Ananda Mayi Ma,
whose photo is in the book. She has stated to a Sai devotee that, "Sai
is not only a great Avatar, but the greatest that has ever walked the
God bless you,
Forwarded by Mary S. on 23.10.2004
Om Sri Sai Ram