My Life As Sathya Sai Baba's Prophecy (Part 1)
I have two stories to tell. One story puts divine awe into peoples' hearts. The other story can crumble those same hearts and leaves them feeling betrayed and abandoned by God. For this reason, it is a heavy responsibility to speak out but I think that, when all is said and done, it is far better to speak the truth, therefore giving people a better opportunity to make their own enquiries.
Sai Baba predicted my birth and gave me my name and even "foretold" a little bit about my personality. So here I am just past thirty reflecting back on what I now see as an ironic situation and sometimes painful experience. My story is hard, if not impossible, for most of his devotees to credit. He has long proclaimed himself to be the divine incarnation of all divine incarnations occurring across the millenia. Followers flock to him from many lands. He has a charismatic power that instantaneously works in his devotees' minds to counteract any comment critical of him. My own mother, Sharon Purcell, after 30 years of deep devotion to Sai Baba, spoke out publicly in the last part of her life before she died, stating from her intimate knowledge of what he had done to devotees she had known for many years that he had engaged in a very great deception. See, http://www.saiguru.net/english/articles/19purcell.htm, and www.saiguru.net/english/media/020201divine_sin.htm.
My parents, Sharon and Gary Purcell, were a young and relatively poor couple on the verge of divorce. However, Eastern religion and philosophy intervened, inspiring them to a renewed vigor. Elsie and Walter Cowan were an old couple blessed with fortune. Walter was a geologist and co-founder of Union Oil. The Cowan's shared my parents' enthusiasm for Eastern religious philosophy, and through a series of events the two couples became close friends. In 1971, Elsie and Walter Cowan kindly took my parents along with them to India to meet Sathya Sai Baba for the first time. During this trip Sai Baba gave a lot of attention to my parents, and my mother would relate that Sai Baba saw them personally everyday for about twenty-one interviews. It helped that they were accompanying the Cowans who had the enthusiasm and financial power to literally bring the Sathya Sai Baba message to the United States by funding and creating the Sathya Sai Baba Book Center in Tustin, California. I grew up hearing how during that trip Sai Baba did miracles, showed omniscscience, and made prophecies.
Near the end of the trip Sai Baba spoke to each of my parents separately and in private. He told them they were to have a son, "He will be a good boy, loves God", he said to my father, "You name him truth". My father explained to Sai Baba that he could not name his son truth because he would get beaten up in school. "No, no. You name him Sathya after me. Sathya is truth". Two years later, on January 28, 1973 a son was born and they named him Sathya Sai Purcell. It was a difficult name for a young American growing up in California. I did, however, carry the name proudly among the Sai devotees and I grew up believing that I had a very important role to play since Sai Baba, the "incarnation of God", insisted on my birth and went as far as to give me his own name. The Cowans had many further contacts with Sai Baba, who asked about me and (apparently miraculously) materialized a medallion to be given to me. As a toddler, I climbed behind the sofa and stuck something into the electrical outlet. My mother observed a flash and heard an electrical sound. Panicked, she grabbed me from behind the sofa and found that I was fine. A burnt piece of my medallion was missing, and it appeared to us and Sai devotees around us that the medallion - or the divine power that it emblemized - had intervened to save me from the electric shock. I now think that I simply stuck the medallion itself into the socket. Such instances, filtered through the pious mind, show how easy it is for Sai Baba's fame to spread by sudden leaps and bounds.
Note: Continued over the next weeks