Sai Baba - Howard Murphet - Dr. D K Bannerjee Professor of Organic Chemistry witnesses transmutations and transfigurations
Type of Spiritual Experience
Sai Baba instigated ecstasy in Dr Bannerjee
A description of the experience
Sai Baba Man of Miracles – Howard Murphet
Dr. D. K. Banerjee is a doctor of science and Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. His wife is the daughter of a professor of Physics. Both are Bengalis, and both were brought up without any formal religion.
My wife and I called to see them one afternoon at their home in the pleasant grounds of the Institute and found them quite willing to talk about miraculous experiences with Sai Baba. In fact we talked of little else for some four hours, while tea came and went, the sun sank in the west, and darkness fell over the lawns and gardens.
Dr. Banerjee told me that he had been brought up on Vedanta philosophy. This does not make a religion of science, but it does take a scientific attitude towards religion. It certainly does not predispose the mind towards such things as miracles or the idea of divine incarnation.
However the doctor admits that he did have one spiritual hero. That was his uncle, Soham Swami, who became famous as a holy man of mighty physical strength and used to wrestle with wild tigers. Later as a young man Banerjee read some of his uncle's spiritual books. Nevertheless, he was still very much of a Vedantist and a cautious scientist when he first heard of Sai Baba.
In November 1961, mainly out of curiosity, he paid a visit to Puttaparti. After all, when a scientist hears repeatedly of things that appear to spurn the laws of physics and chemistry he should make it his business to find out about them for himself. With Dr. Banerjee on that first occasion went Professor lyer of the same department at the Institute, and an officer of the Indian Air Force who, incidentally, was a champion parachute jumper.
The inexplicable experiences which the doctor had then and in many subsequent contacts with Baba cover a number of different types of miraculous phenomena, such as visions, healing, the production of articles from an invisible dimension, and the conversion of one object into another before the eyes of the beholder. In relating some of his many experiences here I shall sort them out into groups, although they were to some extent intermixed.
Experience number 1
The first of Dr. Banerjee's strange visions was to do with Lord Krishna. Although millions of Indians worship Krishna as a divine incarnation, Banerjee had always thought of him as a voluptuary, a playboy. In fact it was his custom to nickname any loose-living libertine "Krishna of the Kali Yuga."
While sitting in the room with Baba on his first visit to the ashram Banerjee saw Baba's face becoming transfigured into the face of Lord Krishna. This happened three times; momentarily each time. He was puzzled. But there was more to come.
Though the nephew of Soham Swami does not wrestle with tigers, he believes in keeping physically fit. Every morning early he makes use of the parklands around his house for exercising. At about five on the morning after his return from Puttaparti, while he was limbering up on the lawn, a vision of Krishna suddenly appeared before him.
Then the little dark-blue figure seemed to come towards Banerjee and merge right into him. For some days the doctor felt that he was "possessed" by the one he had always regarded as the prototype of rakes. But it did not make him feel like a Mr. Hyde. In fact the effect was quite the opposite. He seemed to gain complete and absolute control of his senses and desires. It was the most wonderful inner experience he had ever known. "It made me feel like a king," he said.
In this elevated state he made another journey to the ashram to tell Baba, and try to find out what was happening. Baba just smiled and said nothing; then he placed one hand on Banerjee's head and the other on the small of his back, holding them there a while. After that the obsession vanished and the professor came back to normal.
But the experience made Banerjee realise how mistaken he had been about the character and significance of Lord Krishna - the divine cowboy, the great king and statesman, the "timeless charioteer" who spoke the golden words of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, and to all mankind. Baba had taught his new devotee an important lesson in the understanding of God.
Spiritual experience number 2
The second vision, also a transfiguration, is mixed with a materialisation phenomenon. It took place at Brindavanam, Whitefield, where Dr. Banerjee and family had gone to see Baba. Suddenly, as the doctor sat in the room looking at the unique Sai head, it changed into the head of Siva with the waters of the Ganges falling onto Siva's matted hair.
Again it was but a momentary vision. After some time Baba produced a locket and, holding it in his palm, showed it to Banerjee's son, asking:
"What is that?"
"It looks like Siva," the boy replied. Baba said nothing, but after a moment held it up again and asked the same question. This time the boy replied, "It looks like Shirdi Baba." The father felt annoyed that his son apparently could not distinguish between the forms of Siva and Shirdi Baba.
Satya Sai gave the locket to the boy, and when later Dr. Banerjee examined it he observed that it had a picture of Shirdi Baba on one side, and on the other the illustration of Siva with the matted hair onto which the waters of the Ganges were falling - just like the transfiguration he had just witnessed.
Spiritual experience number 3
Materialisations began at Banerjee's first visit. Apart from the vibhuti produced for all of the party, Baba took from the air for Dr. Banerjee a gold medal. The professor showed this to my wife and me when we visited him. On one side is Shirdi Baba with "Shree Sai Baba" written in Sanskrit, while on the other is an open hand showing the palm and "Om" in Sanskrit blended with the inscription "Abhayam" in Telegu and some Tamil script meaning, "When I am there, what is the fear?"
However, for sceptics on the watch for sleight of hand tricks, perhaps the most evidential phenomenon is one seen by Dr. Banerjee soon after he met Sai Baba. At this stage he was himself still a bit suspicious, not being quite sure whether the productions were extremely clever stage magic or genuine miracles.
On this occasion, besides Banerjee, there were two women and three children present. Baba stirred the air in the usual way, turned his hand up, and opened it to show ash covering his palm like a thin layer of powder. Now before their watching eyes, keeping his palm steadily upturned, he stroked a finger across the powdering of ash. As he did so there appeared on his palm five large circular sweets - one for each person present. The professor said that these confections were made mainly from cheese, and belonged to a type of sweet not well known in India, being found only in certain parts of Bengal, the Banerjee's own state.
Spiritual experience number 5
Mrs. Banerjee, her husband says, is the "handyman" around the place.
Her practical capabilities range from driving in a nail to repairing an internal combustion engine. She was brought up without any formal religion and had never opened a book on spiritual subjects when she met Sai Baba.
At her first interview Baba blessed her by placing his hand above her head. Afterwards her husband saw a streak of vibhuti along the line parting her hair. Strangely, within a few days he saw his wife reading books containing Baba's discourses, and then later, other spiritual literature as well.
Some time afterwards Baba remarked on this new interest in reading and again blessed her. In doing so he placed his hand again above her head, but a bit higher this time, and those watching saw vibhuti shower from his palm to cover the whole crown. Her interest in spiritual writings strengthened, deepened, and like her husband she has become a close devotee of Sai Baba.