Sai Baba on touching

Sai Baba has warned, “Another person’s sins would pass to oneself through the touch of that person’s skin. It is for that reason that devotees are not allowed to touch the feet of some swamis. Since one cannot be sure who is bad and who is good, it is best to refrain from touching….”

In a world habit of hugs and kisses, given without discrimination, what are we supposed to do? In some countries, we kiss on both cheeks when we meet. In others, we exchange handshakes. Though I may abstain from giving so much as a nudge, I am not immune from the physical contact I receive in a day. Taken to extremes, this would mean avoiding crowded buses. How to manage? I did the best I could without shunning people. Slowly, my discernment began to improve. I could sense my surroundings and the thoughts of those close to me. I was careful.

My Beloved Puttaparthi Sai said, “When the tender plant of devotion begins to grow, it must be protected. When a young tree is growing, various animals will eat it and may kill it. For this reason, a fence is placed around the young tree to protect it. When the tree is grown it needs no protection. The same animals, who would have first destroyed it, now seek and find shade and shelter beneath its branches.”

I cultivated devotion; it was the easiest path for me. I began to understand that the Divine did indeed reside in all. But I stopped short of running up and embracing everyone.

“When devotion has grown strong and intense, it will burn all sins,” the Kali Yuga Avatar taught. “Until then the person whose devotion is just new, must see bad as bad and good as good. The person grown strong in his devotion may see bad as good and see good only. It is not just physical touch wherein lies the danger, but in mental intimacy also; bad influences may flow from one person to another.”

Most of us have had those experiences of being in the company of others who deplete our energies without explanation. They act politely, speak kindly, and those around them seem to be mesmerised by their chatter. Meanwhile, we leave the function full of anger – unaware that we have been affected by polluted mental intimacy.

“By the Lord’s touch, you can be relieved of your sins,” according to Sri Sathya Sai.What’s more, he noted, “You are affected by whatever you touch. For instance, if you touch fire, it scalds. Fire can burn even iron. It is so potent. But when the fire is extinguished, the residue is mere charcoal. When you touch the charcoal, your hand becomes black. Thus in either case, the contact is not beneficial. But what happens when you come in contact with divine fire? All your bad thoughts and bad actions are reduced to ashes. This is the sanctity attached to the performance of Padanamaskar (prostrating at the feet of the Lord).”

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