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      It was the 30th of September, 1998, in Beograd, Serbia.

      It was some minutes after midnight.

      It was the time of great disturbances in politics, the time preceding the culmination of Kosovo conflict.

      And it was the moment of a strong earthquake. 

      In its epicentre the earthquake was 7th grade of the Richter scale, resulting in disaster of many homes. In Beograd it was measured to be the 6th of the same scale. That means destruction of some shabby houses, and definitely the dancing of furniture, doors, and walls, falling of pictures, breaking of glassware, etc.

      I was alone in the apartment. Around me, the perfect silence. I just started my night prayer.

      Then, the telephone rang.

      A friend from the nearby Sai center asked me:

      “How did you survive this thing?”

      “Which thing?” I asked, perplexed.

      “Which thing?! The earthquake, of course!”

      “There was no earthquake here,” I said bluntly.

      My friend was silent. At the moment, she was no farther then the mile from my place. Then she asked what I was doing at that particular moment. I told her I just started my night prayer.

      “Didn’t you hear the underground roar, the thunder? Your windows and doors did not tremble?”

      “No. Here is uninterrupted silence. And the balcony is wide open.”

      My friend probably thought that I was too deeply absorbed in prayer to feel anything. (By the way, I was not). Yes, but what about the things around me? Have the things also been absorbed? Have the vases and pictures and glassware and furniture also been forgetful of the roar and tremor? So, my friend asked me to look around the apartment.

      I went around. Every little thing was standing peacefully in its own undisturbed place. Nothing was moved, or shoved the traces of being displaced. Even the little glas wind-pipe from Japan was deeply asleep in the open kitchen door. And all my collections of tiny suvenirs, all the books, photos, paper figurines, peacock feathers, and pieces of china and ivory were silently contemplating their own lawful places.

      “My goodness, Baba, what does it mean?” I kept asking myself. “How to understand it?”

      My friend then told me how terrible it was. She lives in a house where the bhajans are held weekly by our Center, the oldest in Yugoslavia. When the earthquake started, she thought that somebody was trying to break in, so she ran to the telephone to call police. Then she saw the chandelier dancing wildly, and understood it could be the earthquake, and as to definitely confirm it, the windows started to shake violently. In a part of Beograd called Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), with population more than half the million, living almost exclusively in modern hive-like and tower-like buildings, most of the people rushed outside, and spent the night in the open. And some houses in the center of the city have collapsed.

      Next morning I went a floor down, to inquire at neighbor's.

      “So, how was the night?” I asked.

      “Oh, terrible!” they said, and showed me how the kitchen table was slanted, and how all the glasses and cups slid to the floor, some of them broken. Also, the heavy cupboards have been dangerously pushed out of their places. These people live just below my apartment. And the morning papers have had the full report of the night’s terror. 

      So, I sat down to think how to translate this phenomenon into the language of human understanding. It was definitely an earthquake, spread far and wide through out the country - only it did not happen at a certain apartment. The playful Lord incorporated this apartment in the middle of tremors, sandwiching it in between natural earthquake effects. Imagine the Lord telling to one of the floors, to some of the walls: “You are not going to move a millimetre, and you are not going to hear anything but silence, while the other floors and places, below and beside, and around Beograd and Serbia, will tremble, and dance, and roar!” What an inventive magic!

      But what more does it mean, besides being the _expression of His leela?

      The earthquake was the overture of the much worse tremor: of conflict in Kosovo, and of Nato bombardment. In 1998, nobody could be sure of anything, but the danger was hanging heavily in the air. You could know it from the night howling of the dogs, and from the birds, singing less and less. Thinking on these lines, and connecting it to the silent earthquake, I understood anything can happen with His saying “yes”, and nothing can happen without His saying “yes”. No matter what natural law is in question, and how wondrously and “impossibly” it is broken. Yes, He was telling me just this - don’t fear, I am here. And I could feel the deep sense of peace and protection, of joy and gratitude, of wonder and love. I was all laughter and happiness.*

      But - was it all to it?

      More and more I felt that this extraordinary event was really and truly His identity card! Yes, it was His unusual signature of His nature, His saying of WHO HE IS. He is AN EARTHQUAKE OF LOVE! His Advent, His coming among us, is a silent earthquake, the earthquake which protects, peacefully, silently, beautifully, leela-like. His pace is all love, but His love is hurricane-like in its inside transformation of the world. His love is the earthquake by its effect, and sweet magic by its way.

      No era before has seen such an earthquake, so volcanically tender, and such a thunderous lightning for the tamasic stupor, and such a wide, wide embrace for the billions.


      *Needless to say, when the bombs started this spring, 1999, we have been safe and untouched through all the 78 days of bombardment - in spite of the fact that near to our place is the dangerous and much-hit military area. Again, it was this apartment in the whole building, which suffered no broken window glasses. I was really sorry for all the people who suffered loss, but at the same time I could not help being at strange, undisturbed peace. I must confess that I never slept so peacefully, as through the air-raids.

Submitted to SBOI