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The crucifix was created by Baba on a most auspicious day, Mahasivaratri. Baba had reached a decision to halt the yearly public viewing of the birth of the lingam as it flashes from his mouth and comes to rest in his hands, cushioned by a silk handkerchief. Although that public portion of the holy festival of Mahasivaratri was now terminated; nevertheless the lingam would be created by Baba each year again and again, for it is a principal sign by which we may know the Avatar. In respect to the oval, egg-shaped lingam which Baba produces from within his body on Mahasivaratri night, he says, "It is not possible for you to understand the divine purpose and gauge its potential or to know the significance of its manifestation. In order to bear witness to the fact that Divinity is among you, it becomes necessary for me to express this attitude of mine. Otherwise the atmosphere of hatred, greed, envy, cruelty, violence, and irreverence will overwhelm the good, the humble, and the pious. The lingam is a symbol of the beginningless and endless, of the infinite it is the most fitting symbol of the Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent Lord. Everything starts from it and everything is subsumed in it."

We may also know the Avatar by the sixteen signs that accompany him: creation, preservation, dissolution, knowledge of incarnations, special Grace and the power to bestow it; each of these in the past, present, and future, thus totaling fifteen, with the sixteenth being Paramatma, the Divine, resident in the heart of each being. To these sixteen signs of the divine incarnation of the Avatar, Baba adds another sign, which he terms the most significant of all - divine love, universal and impersonal, yet personal. The lingam has been seen by the writer a number of times. On the occasion of one Mahasivarathi night, I was sitting quite close to Baba. When the moment came, I saw a flash of gold come from his mouth and saw the lingam caught in the silk handkerchief held by his hands. It was of gold. How an object that size came up Sri Baba's throat cannot be explained. At another Mahasivaratri, the lingam was translucent, and there was a clearly visible flame in the center of the lingam.

The evening before the Mahasivaratri Day of 1973, we were told to be ready in the early morning for a trip; and that when the cars were loaded and ready we would know the destination. Swami had decided that only a handful of people would be with him when the lingam became manifest.

Our destination was the Bandipur Game Sanctuary in Bandipur Forest, several hours away in Mysore State. We arrived at the Forest resthouse in the early afternoon. The next morning we returned to our cars, and, guided by the Forest people, took various winding roads hoping to come upon one of the Forest's wild elephant herds. As we moved through the trees and the open areas, in our minds we were hoping for a replay of the dramatic and fascinating encounter between Baba and a wild elephant herd which had taken place some years before when Swami and some devotees had made a holiday expedition to the Game Sanctuary. This time, however, the elephants remained in their secret places and not even one was seen. But the drive through the hills had another and more important objective. Swami intended to find a correct site where we could gather at dusk for the sacred event of the lingam birth. It was on this great and most mysterious occasion, unknown and beyond imagination to the world at large, that the crucifix came into being.

As we crossed a bridge above a sandy, dry riverbed, Baba indicated that this would be the place. He said we would all return here just at dusk, and this we did. The cars halted at the side of the road, and we started to climb down the bank to the sandy river bottom. I was beside Baba. As we passed a bush, Swami broke off two twigs, placed them together and asked me, "What is this, Hislop?"

"Well, Swami, it is a cross," I answered. Baba then closed his fingers over the twigs and directed three somewhat slow breaths into his fist, between thumb and forefinger. Then he opened his hand to reveal a Christ figure crucified on a cross, and he gave it to me.

He said, "This shows Christ as he really was at the time he left his body, not as artists have imagined him or as historians have told about him. His stomach is pulled in and his ribs are all showing. He had no food for eight days."

I looked at the crucifix, but found no words. Then Baba continued, "The cross is wood from the actual cross on which Christ was crucified. To find some of the wood after 2,000 years took a little time! The image is of Christ after he died. It is a dead face."

I noticed something odd and asked, "Swami, what is that hole at the top of the cross?" Baba replied that the cross had been originally hung from a standard.

We continued down to the river bed, and Baba seated us in a rectangle, with himself at the head. It could be seen that Swami's body was already in labor, and the group at once started singing bhajans (sacred songs of devotion and praise to Divinity). This continued without interruption until the lingam came out from Baba's throat and was caught by him in a silk handkerchief. After the lingam had been admired by everyone, Swami put it aside. He then raised a small heap of sand in front of his knees, and with his finger sketched an outline on it. Then in a moment or two, he dug his hand into the sand and brought forth a silver flask filled with amrith. Then he moved his hand and created a small silver cup. Everyone, from his hand, was then given a portion of the amrith, nectar of the Gods. How delicate and delicious was the taste! It is unique. There is no other taste to compare to it.

Within a few weeks we were back at our home in Mexico and were soon to witness an amazing series of events in relation to the crucifix. The cross is so small that the details on the figure of Christ escape the eye. A friend, Walter, came down to our home and took some color photographs of the crucifix. The over-all length of the Christ figure is only one inch, and Walter was to make some enlargements to bring out the detail. When he mailed us a sample of the prints, my wife and I were astounded. I wrote to him and said that if the pictures were seen around the world, they would create an art sensation. I am sure it is the greatest sculpture of Christ every made. In my estimation, it is the most extraordinary object Sri Sathya Sai has ever created for the joy of his devotees.

A few weeks later, Walter and his wife returned with color enlargements of the cross. These, along with the actual cross, were spread out on the dining room table, next to large french windows overlooking the sea. The time was about 5 p.m. The details revealed by the photographic enlargements were so extraordinary that all persons present were concentrating on this amazing vision of Christ, and on the mystery and wonder of Sri Bhagavan. On this afternoon, the sky along the Mexican coast was clear and peaceful but suddenly, without any warning, there was a loud crash of thunder and as our eyes turned to the windows, lightning flashed from a dark cloud where a moment before there had been only clear sky. A violent wind rushed through the house, causing windows and doors to open and shut with such force that glass was in danger of shattering. The curtains were flying in all directions. We were much startled by this turn of events, but my wife at once, said, "It is 5 p.m., the time Christ died on the cross, and what is now happening is described in the Bible." She later brought a Bible and we looked until we found the pertinent paragraph, which said that at the moment Christ gave up His life, a violent storm arose with lightning and thunder, and winds rent the curtains of the temple. We concluded that we had witnessed a wonder totally beyond our power of imagination. Before our eyes had occurred nothing less than a recapitulation of events related to the crucifixion. The following day newspapers in San Diego carried a brief story commenting on the sudden and mysterious storm that had arisen without warning on the Mexican coast, near Ensenada. We and our friends concluded that this recapitulation of an event which had taken place some 2,000 years ago upon the crucifixion of Christ, implied a great Power connected in some way with that small cross and Christ figure materialized by Baba. A Year or so later I sent a description of the event to Dr. Eruch B. Fanibunda for his book, Vision of the Divine. He showed the memo to Baba. After reading the memo, Baba said the event had occurred as described and that the significance attributed to it was correct.

It might be thought that the story of the cross was now complete, but there is still a sequel. In 1975, I made an unannounced trip to India to consult with Baba about arrangements for a visit to America that we hoped he would undertake. Swami had not been informed of my visit and was away on tour when I arrived. On that day he was having lunch with a few senior devotees and he said, "Hislop arrived in Bangalore just now and is waiting."

One of the men at the table (who later told me of the scene) remarked, "You made a crucifix for him."

Baba replied, "Yes, I made it for him. And when I went to look for the wood, every particle of the cross had disintegrated and had returned to the elements. I reached out to the elements and reconstituted sufficient material for a small cross. Very seldom does Swami interfere with Nature, but occasionally, for a devotee, it will be done.

Excerpts from the book "My Baba & I" by Dr. John S. Hislop