Easter Findings…

The article published below has its origin from a casual, yet serious mail forward received at the desk of The Prasanthi Reporter, sent by a Sai Brother from the United Kingdom. The forward was an image of a 1894 composition of world renowned painter Maurice Denis, depicting the Resurrection of Jesus…and interestingly, the image of the Lord resurrected has a striking resemblance to The Lord clad in an Orange Robe, Who Walks The Earth in this modern era –  Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai!

Finding it interesting, yet somewhat suspicious of hands that tamper old images with modern Photoshop tools, the receiver casually forwarded it, most instinctively, as if inspired by some force, to one of his colleagues, who is quite inquiring, logical and research-oriented and above all, had rich experience in serving the Lord in physical.

Inquisitive he was, he did his initial google search and followed it up with research for a couple of hours, including exploration into French Websites for precise details, before  contacting one of the authors of Sai Publications based out of France, seeking clarity and confirmation. Ms Jenny Socrate, our author in contention, also a reputed journalist, was quick in responding to the request, doing her bit of research before confirming the fact as per return mail…

Upon further request, Ms Jenny Socrate being swift in action, made her journalistic trip to the Maurice Denis Museum, in a fact-finding mission. What followed was this beautiful article about her explorations and findings. Ms Jenny Socrate is the author of the book entitled “The Divine Master”, which has been translated and printed into eleven languages, available in Prasanthi Nilayam Book Shop. Apart from her writing stints, Ms Jenny has been engaged in delivering lectures about Bhagawan & His Teachings, in English, French and Spanish, in countries around the world for the past 18 years.

We also acknowledge our gratitude to Ms Jullie Chaudhuri for her editorial task coupled with coming up with a beautiful introduction to the article, writing about ‘The Holy Father and His Holy Son’.

What amazed us was the timing! How else we could explain our amazement about the crucial time at which we received it…just three days ahead of Holy Easter! The Timeless God Whose sparks we are, Whose creation we see around, Whose phenomena is this physical world, has orchestrated this act with perfect timing, to unravel a mystery that was hidden for more than a century! Hallelujah!!!

The grieving period of Lent gives way to ‘Good Friday’ and merges in the celebration of ‘Easter’…days of penance and sacrifice…remembrance, repentance…a chance to deliver oneself …from tepid, apathetic ways to recover, redeem and reprise…the way of living and life.

The life of Christ was as much a colossal sacrifice as His crucifixion.

As Jesus says of Himself, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). Thus, His life exemplifies the word ‘divine’ so appropriately… dedicated indeed was He to exhausting Himself through an endless giving unto others.

Let us peruse through some of His words ever filled with serenity that comes only from complete surrender -
Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’. If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John: 14:23-28)

The words I say to you are not just my own, rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me, when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John: 14:11)

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1)

…and let us also pay heed to the words of the Apostle Paul –

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

This article is but a remarkably poignant analogy between the Supreme Father and His truly obedient Son…wherein a wondrous artwork by French Artist – Maurice Denis, painted way back in 1894, reveals a singularly astonishing likeness between the way Jesus is depicted and Beloved Bhagawan…  ‘I and my Father are One…’ a physical and spiritual likeness…infinitely transcendental.  It thus appears as a fascinating foreteller…revealing a propitious co-relation…a potent and promising prescience that acknowledges no barriers…neither of time nor of space…
I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)

The classic depiction by the artist, its discovery at this appropriate time, Resurrection Of Christ and our Lord choosing to withdraw His form during this holy period is a point to deliberate, contemplate, examine and evaluate by each one of us. It fills each devotee’s heart with a light of longing for a Divine encore.

…now dear readers…invoking the Father and the Son…knowing them to be One…beseeching a cascade of Easter grace and blessings from Beloved Bhagawan…we leave you to view and read on…

I place my humble testimony at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I am Ms Jenny Socrate, born in Peru and living in Paris, France, since 1969.

My first experience of Sai Baba occured in Peru, in 1966. He appeared to me in the middle of the night, around 3 a.m. There He was sitting at the foot of my bed…watching me.

I awoke suddenly and was frightened by the feeling of somebody sitting there. I lifted my head from the pillow to get a better view of that person. He then slowly vanished. I did not know Him – neither His Name, nor His Form.

We started to hear about Sathya Sai Baba much later, in Peru. I had to wait till January, 1992 to be able to come to India. When I saw Sai Baba in Whitefield, for the first time, I recognised Him from His appearance at the foot of my bed, twenty six years ago! When I saw Him, I had to cover my eyes with my hands, shouting within myself, “He is not man. He is God, He is God!”

I am so grateful to our Lord for giving me the vision of His Divinity!

A few days prior to Easter, on 28th March, 2013, I received a correspondence from some within the Sai fraternity. In a mystifying manner, way across continents in Prasanthi Nilayam, they had come across an artwork from France, painted by a very famous artist, Mr Maurice Denis, wherein our Swami Himself appears very clearly, in the middle of the painting! Since I am a journalist, I was supposed to visit the museum and see with my own eyes this unique marvel!

Mr Maurice Denis, the painter, was born in the year 1870 and died in 1943.The introduction of the Divine in the everyday Christian life of the painter is one of the characteristics of Mr. Denis’s work. It contributes to the creation of images full of very unusual purity and poetry.

The name of this painting is ‘SAINTLY WOMEN IN THE TOMB (Easter Morning)’. It is an oil painting on canvas, painted in 1894. Added to the atemporal clothes and to the salvation of angelic illustrations, there is the delicate inclination of the communiants wearing contemporary dresses. The aura of light around the figures’ heads and the unreal lighting radiating the landscape mark the spirituality of the work. The miracle of spring flashes, while the presence of Christ in the family garden reminds us of the divine message of the artist.

Hundred and twenty years ago, through his fascinating composition on canvas, Maurice Denis clearly depicts the Resurrection of the Almighty, wearing an orange robe, strikingly similar to our Beloved Bhagawan.

God is beyond time! He was there in the past, is there in the present, and will be there in future.

Presently I found myself visiting the museum and it was truly an amazing experience to wander through it. We could still feel the presence of that century, while gazing at the ‘objects d’art’ in the various rooms of this ancient museum.

This painting of Maurice Denis is special, because it represents Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, with Saint Mary Magdalene and other angelic women carefully watching Him. However, it acquires increasing significance, as we, Sai devotees, by an extraordinary leela (Divine Sport) of our Lord Sai Baba, can perfectly visualise His Form in the painting! When I moved near the painting to better appreciate it, wonder of wonders was that I really felt as if I was standing in front of Sai Baba! Why did He produce this leela (Divine Sport) for us just at Easter?

While I was carefully watching the painting and taking pictures of it, an old man sitting in the corner of the exposition room, the attendant, came near me and asked why I was so interested in that painting. I explained it all. He was very surprised. He then told me that this particular painting – “Saintly Women in the Tomb”, was Maurice Denis’ favourite one. He had hung this painting, his own work, on the wall behind his desk, until he passed away.

It is Easter now. Swami decided to leave His Form on Easter, two years ago. Here, in this ancient work of art we get to witness the resurrection. Swami is the Omnipresent Lord…does this mean He is the resurrection itself? Nothing in the Universe is by chance…nothing in the Cosmos a co-incidence…is this indicative of a restoration of ultimate grace…a reawakening for humanity to witness…a reemergence of dignified glory…a hint that the era of Sathya Sai has much more in store…?

Nothing is impossible as far as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is concerned.

His ways are known only to Him…totally unfathomable to a finite mind. However, ‘love, trust, faith, patience and hope’ is the structure that is the foundation of every devoted heart.

In the meantime, He has never left us! We have just to close our eyes and we can see Him, perfectly, as before.

I happened to visit Prasanthi Nilayam recently. Nothing has changed. I feel exactly as when He was there in front of us. By my nature, I often close my eyes, and used to do it even in front of His Form. Several times, Sevadals (volunteers) came to ‘wake’ me, as Swami was there and I was ‘sleeping’! I was not sleeping. I was with Baba in my whole being.

As an Easter gift, an American friend of mine in Paris, Eliza, opened my book last Monday (after Palm Sunday), which she has read 3 times already, and from the page she opened, the fragrance of Vibhuti (Sacred Ash) spread all around her for quite a while!

Our Lord lives in our heart. On this special Easter day, let us be happier than we are everyday, even if we are always happy when we live with Swami within us. He has taught us Love, the greatest thing He could teach and give us. Let us put it into practice. Let us show Him that we have learnt His teachings.

I wish the readers a very Happy, Holy Easter.