of Mr. Walter Cowan
How Baba brought Walter Cowan back
This amazing episode of how Bhagawan miraculously
revived Walter Cowan after he had died of a massive heart
attack is narrated by Mr. John Hislop in his book, ‘My
Baba and I’:
Walter died in his room at the Connemara
Hotel in Madras. He and his wife, Elsie, had arrived there
on December 23, 1971 to see Baba, who was in Madras to preside
at an All-India Conference of Sai Organizations.
Early on the morning of December 25, a rumour
quickly spread that an elderly American had died of a heart
attack. My wife, Victoria and I immediately thought of Walter.
We went to the hotel and found Elsie (Walter’s wife)
there. Walter had fallen to the floor in the early morning
hours. Elsie had called Mrs. Ratanlal whose room was just
down the corridor. The two women managed to lift Walter to
the bed, and he passed away in Elsie's arms a few minutes
later. An ambulance was called, The body was taken to a hospital,
pronounced dead upon arrival, placed in an empty, storage
room, and covered with a sheet to await daylight and decisions
about the funeral.
Elsie and Mrs. Ratanlal had already been
to see Baba when we arrived. He had told them He would visit
the hospital at 10 a.m. The two ladies were ready and waiting
to join Baba at the appointed hour. They did go to the hospital,
but Baba had arrived earlier and had already departed. To
the joy of the ladies, but also to their total amazement,
they found Walter alive and being attended to. Nobody saw
Baba with Walter, nor has Baba chosen to say how or why Walter
was resurrected, but on returning to the devotee family who
were his hosts, Baba told the people there that He had brought
Walter back to life.
Walter's own story throws some light on
what happened, and later on, I was a party to a fascinating
episode; for Walter's life continued to be in danger and,
in fact, Baba told me that Walter died three times and had
to be returned to life three times.
Walter described his experience. He said
he realized that he had died and that he had remained with
the body, in the ambulance, looking at it with interest. Then
Baba came and together they went to a place, which seemed
to be at a great height. There they entered a conference room
where people were seated around a table. There was a presiding
chairman who had a kind face and who spoke in a kindly way.
He called for Walter's records and these were read aloud.
The records were in different languages and Walter did not
understand what was said until after some time when Baba started
to translate. Walter was surprised to hear that he had occupied
a lofty status in various times and cultures and had always
been dedicated to the welfare of the people. At length, Baba
addressed the person presiding and asked that Walter be given
over to Baba's care, for Baba had work for Walter to do. Then,
when Baba and he departed the room, Walter felt himself descending
towards a place where his body was, but felt great reluctance.
In terms of direct experience, he had realized that he was
not the body, and he had no wish to be subject again to anxieties
After hearing Walter, I asked Baba if Walter
was just imagining the incidents. Baba replied that it was
not imagination. They had occurred in Walter's mind and Baba
himself had guided the thoughts. I then asked if everyone
had a similar experience at death. Baba answered that some
people had similar experiences and some did not. Several years
later, I brought up the question again. Baba answered that
the corpse was common to all, but beyond that there was no
The day after Walter returned to life was
one of high interest for me. Sri Appa and I accompanied Baba
to the home of a devotee. From there we went to a meeting
of lady members of the Nigara Sai Samithi where Baba was to
give awards and speak. Sri Appa and I were sitting on the
platform, just a few feet from Baba, and were able to observe
him closely. He made the awards and gave a spiritual discourse,
all without any break or any moment of hesitation. From that
meeting, we were to go to the home of a devotee for lunch.
As soon as we got in the car, Baba turned to us and said,
"While I was talking in the meeting, Mrs. Cowan called
me. I at once went to the hospital and did what was necessary.
Mr. Cowan's health had taken a turn for the worse."
So, even while busy on the speaker's platform,
Baba had gone to the hospital, and had done what was necessary.
But, to the eyes of Sri Appa and myself, Baba had continued
in action and speech on the platform for the whole time without
any break or hesitation whatsoever. How does one explain this
When we arrived at the devotee's house for
lunch, Baba turned to us and said, "You will not be able
to join me for lunch. Take this Vibhuti to the hospital, give
Mr. Cowan some in his mouth and rub the rest on his forehead
and chest. If you will walk to the corner there, you will
find Mrs. Hislop in a taxi. She will take you to the hospital."
Now the fact was, that my wife had been
following in a car. However, she had taken great pains to
stay out of sight, but her effort was to no avail for, as
usual, Baba knew everything. When we reached the hospital
with the Vibhuti, Mrs. Cowan said, "Walter took a very
bad turn just a little while ago. I thought he was dead, and
I was terrified. I at once called Baba in a loud voice. Now,
Walter seems a little improved. When I called Baba I felt
his presence at once." At the hospital, Elsie experienced
exactly what Baba had told Sri Appa and myself in the car.
Other instances of Baba's powers of resurrection
are also known. The Raja of Ventagiri told me how some twenty
or so years ago, he had witnessed Baba's resurrection of a
man dead some six days in whom body decomposition was taking
its normal course. About these mysteries, one can make no
comment; they are outside one’s common experience.
Reference: “My Baba
and I” by Dr. John Hislop.
Page: 28-31. Publisher: Birthday Publishing Company, San Diego,
California, 1985. Copyright now with Sri Sathya Sai Books
and Publications Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam.