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Region 6 - Animal Devotees of the Lord
Sai Baba and the Animal Kingdom

"Foster the tiny seed of Love that clings to ‘me' and ‘mine', let it sprout into Love for the group around you and grow into Love for all mankind, and spread out its branches over animals, birds and those that creep and crawl, and let the Love enfold all things and all beings in all the worlds. Proceed from less Love to more Love, narrow Love to expanded Love”. (Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 8, ch.16)

All great souls have felt tenderness for the whole of God's creation. As we grow in Love and expand in Love, our hearts become sensitive to and open to all forms - in the words of Ibn El Arabi, a Sufi mystic of the 12th century: " My heart has opened to every form. It is a pasture for gazelles, a cloister for Christians, a temple for idols, the Ka'ba of the pilgrims, the tablet of the Torah and the Book of the Koran. I practice the religion of Love; in whichever directions its caravans advance, the religion of Love will be my religion and my faith”.

We all know how much Sai Baba loved animals (as did Shirdi Sai) and that he kept many over his lifetime. In the early days, he would talk to and pet each cow in the Gokulum regularly. According to "The Embodiment of Love”, he used to keep pairs of dogs (14 pairs up to the date of writing the book in 1982), Several dogs also seem to number amongst his devotees and stories are told of those which have come to die at his feet, including one about Kuttan, a ‘pure atma' as Baba called him.

In Sathyam, Shivam, Sundarum, 1, we are told that as a small child, he would run up to and embrace to his heart and pet any chicken whom he knew was about to be slaughtered, in an attempt to shield it from its coming demise. He kept away from places where animals were slaughtered or tortured or where fish were trapped and caught. Because of his great love and consideration for all of creation, his neighbours called him "Brahmajnani”. Once in the early days, Kasturi tells us he was found privately taking leave of a buffalo who had carried water for him and his party on a trip away. He was heard to say, "You have done me good service, Bangaru (Golden One)………”, while patting the buffalo very affectionately. The tale of his enormous love for Sai Gita and hers for him are legendary. Her adoration and devotion to him had no equal. She lived only for him and from the day that he rescued her from her orphaned state in which she was heard to be crying pitifully, he showed her the love of a thousand mothers. Just as he knew what was in his human devotees' hearts and minds, so too did he know what was in Sai Gita's heart and mind, especially it seems, when she came to complain to him about her various mahouts!

The animals he kept over so many decades must have adored him for as he says, "Love is present not only in human beings but in all creatures, birds and beasts……….” When one little deer in his sanctuary was about to die and gazed longingly up at his window, Baba appeared with an apple and a banana to feed it. On seeing him, it ran up to him with a heartbreaking expression of sorrow in its eyes (according to the Seva Dal who was present). As the small deer ate from Baba's hand, two clear tears trickled down its face. Very soon afterwards, the little deer passed away. According to students present at the time, Baba told someone, "these are my two-legged ‘dear'(the students) and those are my four-legged deer. All are dear to me”.

Another animal which had cause to be grateful at least was the cat called Minkie. Minkie's mistress's sister had beaten Minkie for stealing some fish from the supper table. As she beat Minkie with a big stick, Minkie must have screamed out and all the 16 pictures of Baba in the house swayed violently and some fell down with a big bang, terrifying those present. As Minkie started to recover from her punishment, big puffs of fragrant vibhuti came out of her fur and fell thickly on the table, leaving the room smelling divinely fragrant and showing Baba's omnipresence! The Divine Healer had got to work on her straightaway and from a distance. Six months later, in November 1972, when Minkie's owner visited the ashram, Baba gave her some packets of vibhuti, then threw her two more, saying "these are for the cat”. All these and more stories are well known to many devotees.

However, how many more animal devotees of the Lord are there that we do not know of? An article included in the March 1987 Hatfield Magazine written by a certain Paulette talks of a cat named Fluffy. To summarise, Fluffy became seriously interested in Sai Baba from the minute she was first given some vibhuti. She purred ecstatically while licking this vibhuti. Three days later, her fur exuded a lovely smell of vibhuti. Every morning after that, she sat with her mistress facing Baba's photograph and started the day with a little vibhuti. Whenever a book about Baba arrived in the post, she would try and get inside the parcel, sometimes lie on it and once it was unwrapped, monopolise it for half an hour or so, not allowing her mistress to have access to it. She seemed to know when a parcel arriving in the post was a book about Sai Baba even when none else knew and got excited even before it was opened. Three years after having been introduced to Baba, she had a heart attack, aged almost 28 years old and died with his photograph, vibhuti and sand that he walked on, beside her. Her owner found the vibhuti container unexpectedly open and how Fluffy opened this remains a mystery because, apparently, it would have been impossible for a cat to open it.

At the risk of sounding a little way-out, I would like to share the following about one of my own cats, now deceased, who had been present (unintentionally, of course!) at Sai Baba meetings in my home for most of her life . She ‘communicated' very strongly around the time of her passing to a psychic animal communicator that she wanted to be buried in a brightly coloured scarf, with vibhuti rubbed into her fur and of course, this was done. According to the communication received, due to the influence of Baba around her, she wanted to come back as a guide dog in order to serve. Perhaps she too had become a secret and undeclared devotee! Who knows? One can only ponder on it. Certainly her level of consciousness had increased greatly during her lifetime and she had also become very sweet-natured in her old age.

As a parting shot, please note that activities of a spiritual nature also benefit the animal souls around us for Sai Baba has said:
"Spirits of animals and birds can only hear but they cannot speak. When they listen to bhajans, they will also be spiritually elevated. This is the reason why I keep on telling you to sing bhajans loudly”. Sathya Sai Baba (Nectarine Drops in Anandadayi Karunamba – Journey to Sai).

Mercini Elizabeth
Region 6 Spiritual Coordinator