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The Wave of the Hand
Wave of the hand-Sai Baba giving vibhuti

Even as a child, Baba had the miraculous power of getting things from "nowhere". He surprised His playmates by taking peppermints and sweets from empty bags. In spite of His requests to keep this a secret, the news spread among the elders, and when they inquired how He got them, Baba remained silent. Later, when pressed by His friends, He said that a certain angel obeyed His slightest wish. This was, of course, to ward off further queries, because the villagers were satisfied by such an answer. They began to admire Him as a specially blessed boy, to be watched with care and treated with respect. Even at school Baba helped many classmates with a piece of rubber or pencil which He materialized by a Wave of the Hand. When any of them complained of an illness or pain, Baba "got" green leaves "from the Himalayas", as He told the boys, and made them chew them and swallow the juice. Some elders called it magic and even characterized it as black magic, warning the children that they should not have anything to do with Satyanarayana.

It was only after the Announcement that Baba regularly "took" Vibhuti and began giving it for a variety of purposes to all who came to Him. Baba has often spoken of the significance of this Vibhuti. Since it is materialized out of nothing and since the Ash is specifically associated with Siva, it is reverentially known by devotees as Kailasa Vibhuti, the sacred Ash of Siva who resides on Mount Kailasa. It is named Vibhuti since it endows one with prosperity; Bhasma - "ashes" because it burns away all sins; Bhasitam - "brightened" because it increases one's spiritual splendor; Ksharam - "destruction" since it removes danger; and Raksha - "protector" for it is an armor against the machinations of evil spirits. This is how the Vibhuti is praised in the Brihad Jabala Upanishad, one of the ancient spiritual texts. Baba says Vibhuti is also a constant reminder of the evanescence of the body which, ultimately, is reduced in cremation to a potful of ash!

Thousands of devotees and visitors have witnessed the miracle of the Vibhuti. It is indeed an inexplicable, ultra-scientific wonder! It is produced so casually, informally, gracefully, quietly, and so naturally that one might well miss the significance of the blessing. The right palm of Baba's Hand is held down on a slight angle - a wave or two, scarcely noticeable ; the fingers close to arrest the fall of the Vibhuti which has already materialized. The wonder product is handed to the recipient, as a token of Baba's blessings, and applied to the forehead. At an average rate of a minimum of one pound per day, the quantity of Vibhuti thus produced "out of the elements" by His Will must now have reached the astounding figure of over five tons !

Every idea has an inherent tendency to manifold itself in physical form. It all depends on the will, whether it is human or divine. Baba wills; it is done!

The Vibhuti may also be placed on the tongue, mixed with water and drunk as a specific against illness. It may be carried as a talisman. A devotee from South America had written that every night she went to bed with a packet of Vibhuti in her palm. Invariably she dreamed that her palms were resting at the feet of Lord Krishna. It is difficult to enumerate all the curative and alleviatory purposes to which recipients put the Vibhuti which Baba produces by a Wave of the Hand.

The Vibhuti He gives is also of innumerable kinds, suited to the purposes for which created. Sometimes it is in the shape of a hard cube, or often powder, fine, grainy or flaky. It may be fragrant or pungent, salty, sweet or tasteless, white or blackish, or of any of the intermediate shades. Sometimes, when He waves His Hand, it materializes - container and all! When a person left for England for higher studies, Baba gave him Vibhuti in a silver container with the additional blessing, "This will never become exhausted!" His Will, thousands of miles away, can replenish the Ash in a container by a pre-dated expression of His desire. When the Vibhuti is to be taken as a medicine for a long period, as during pregnancy, Baba asks the person to bring a receptacle, and by a light tap on the surface, the vessel becomes full of Vibhuti. When he gathers his devotees on the sands, as at Chitravathi or the river bed of Kaivalya at Venkatagiri, or on the beach at Kovalam in Kerala, or Kanyakumari in Tamil Nad, or on the river Godavari, He digs into the sand playfully with His Fingers. A huge cube of Vibhuti hiding there, He rescues, powders and distributes to all present. He may take the sand itself in both His Hands and pour it onto a plate. That which falls on the plate is not sand, but fine fragrant Vibhuti.

Baba's entire physical frame seems to be suffused with Vibhuti. When He is taken in a procession on Vijayadasami, the tenth day of the light-half of the month Asvina, and other festival days, thousands have clearly seen fine Vibhuti falling from His brow onto His eyelids and cheeks. When He leaves the body and goes to save His devotees. Vibhuti often emanates from His face, mouth, thumbs, toes or forehead. He merely raises His thumb and makes a mark on one's forehead, and the Vibhuti is there for all to see.

There have been instances in which devotees have dreamed that Baba came to them and applied Vibhuti on their brows, and found on awakening that the Ash was actually there! Some dreamed that Baba put Vibhuti on their tongues, and when they awakened, they found Vibhuti in their mouths! Baba signifies His Presence at the residence of His devotees by scattering the tell-tale Vibhuti on the floor of the shrine where His picture is kept. When Baba presents a Vision of Himself to save someone from an impending calamity, He invariably uses Vibhuti to effect a cure.

Once during a Dasara Festival a certain visitor from Telengana received an urgent telegram from home, informing him that his father-in-law had had a stroke and that his condition had created anxiety. Baba asked him not to worry. A similar wire came the next day, and Baba agreed to his going alone, leaving his wife to watch the festivities even though she was the daughter of the stricken man and the most needed at his bedside. When the son-in-law left, He gave him Vibhuti to apply to the father-in-law's forehead. He had materialized it by a Wave of the Hand. About eight o'clock the next evening, Baba was discussing the timings of the trains by which the son-in-law was proceeding to the sick-bed. Quite suddenly He sat up and said, "You have all gone wrong. The train won't take him fast enough. He will not reach the place before 9:00 p.m. Oh! "What a pity!" Then with a wink of the eye, He "left" the body and was "gone." He was "away" for about half an hour. When He "returned," He was so happy that He had applied the Vibhuti Himself to the sick man in Telangana. "Did you use the same Vibhuti that the son-in-law was carrying with him?" He was asked. "Yes, you will know that when he returns," He said. "Ask him, and he will say that the packet was empty when he went to the sick man." And so it was. On return, he related the story of his discomfiture; how he was blamed for being careless; how they rubbed their fingers over the folded paper in order to collect at least the tracings of the holy Vibhuti; and how they failed in that desperate endeavor!

SSS - N. Kasturi