Transformation of the Heart
A sceptic is convinced of Bhagawan’s
Joel Riordan, Hollywood film producer, writer
and director, has an interesting story about how Baba changed
his sceptic mind and sowed the seeds of faith in his heart.
When Joel visited Prasanthi Nilayam along with his wife, Diana,
who was a sincere devotee of Baba, he came with the intention
to ‘expose’ Baba whom he sarcastically called
Joel has narrated his thrilling first encounter
to Mr. Howard Murphet, which he recorded it in his book,“Sai
‘Diana had been over to India a couple of times with
her mother, Analise, and both of them used to talk about Sai
Baba's miracles. I thought they must both be mad, or at least
going mad. I seriously considered divorcing Diana. But there
was my daughter Chrissie to think of. Anyway, I finally decided
that, before doing anything drastic, I would go over and see
this “character”, Sai Baba, for myself.
My parents had been show people and I was
just about brought up in a circus. I was keenly interested
in conjuring, and had seen what went on behind all the stage
tricks. I figured that even if this character in India was
a second Houdini, I would be able to expose him as a conjuror,
and not a holy man miracle worker, as people claimed.
Just before I left Hollywood, I was having
lunch with an important guy and - to give him a laugh - told
him what I was planning to do. He seemed to have heard of
Sai Baba, or read about him - may be in Schulman's book, or
yours - any way, he said: "What are you going to ask
him for, Joel?" The idea came to me then.
I answered: "They say this character
is God-so I'll ask him for something only God can make - a
rainbow". He laughed, and we talked about other matters.
But I decided that was what I would ask for.’
When asked by Howard Murphet, whether his
friend had known any Sai devotees in California, Joel replied:
'I checked on that later - for the same reason as you ask.
No, he did not. He lived in a different world from them. No
chance that anyone carried the story to Swami.
Anyway, a few days after that I flew to India,
bringing Diana and Chrissie with me. It was early afternoon
when we arrived in Puttaparthi, and an hour or so later we
went for a walk up that hill behind the hospital. It was a
hot, dry day, and we went up for a breath of air. We sat on
some rocks and looked out over the country. It looked grim
and parched-made me feel dehydrated just to see it.
Then in the western sky a bright rainbow
appeared, Odd, I thought, how can you have a rainbow without
a drop of moisture in the air? Something else struck me as
peculiar. Instead of being curved in the usual way, the rainbow
stood straight up in the sky like a column. I felt a bit spooky
about it. Had this “character” heard my words
right across in America, and caused this phenomenon?
Then the colours started to fade out from
the bottom up. I felt I needed a drink. But of course there's
no alcohol at Puttaparthi, and even the water was warm in
In answer to Howard Murphet’s query
whether his wife Diana had known about his unusual wish, he
'Yeah, I mentioned it to her on the way
over on the plane. She saw the rainbow all right - ask her,
Afterwards, we came down from the hill, and
there was a message that Swami wanted to see us. Diana got
more excited about that than about the rainbow, but as we
had come a long way, it seemed natural enough to me that He
would see us on the first day.
When we walked into the interview room, Swami's
first words knocked me out: "Well, character,
how did you like your rainbow?"
'I was too dumbfounded to answer. He knew
my name for Him, and what I was going to ask for, and had
put that odd rainbow in the sky! It all blew my mind.
Well, I sat with the others on the floor,
hardly hearing, and not understanding, what He was talking
about. In fact, my mind was racing about like a rat in a trap,
trying to find a way back to the common-sense world I knew.
Granted he was a mind reader; telepathy does exist between
people. It's been proved scientifically. But the rainbow must
have been a hallucination or I had been hypnotized.
“I'll give him another test”,
I thought to myself, “I will ask Him to produce some
fresh fruit-out-of-season fruit - right here in this room,
A few minutes after I'd had this thought,
Swami stopped talking and waved his hand in his usual way.
When he turned it up I saw a fresh fig sitting on his palm.
He handed it to me without a word.
I ate it later. It was as fresh, as if had
just been picked. Yet, figs were out of season and, as I learned
later, none grew in that area anyway.’
This was how Bhagawan transformed Joel Riordan
and sowed the seeds of faith in his heart. Later He gave him
the job of supervising some painting work in the Brindavan
Ashram in preparation for the Summer Course that year.
Joel was later fortunate to spend a lot of
time staying with Baba and basking in His love and grace.
Reference: “Sai Baba
Avatar” by Howard Murphet.
Page: 39-42. Publisher: Macmillan India Limited, 1978. Ms.
Diana Baskin too records this amazing story in “Divine
Memories of Sathya Sai Baba”.