Fitting memento from a great man
July 31, 2005
By Thrusha Maharaj
While on a flight to India in 2000, Minister of Arts,
Culture and Tourism, Narend Singh, who was on an
official agricultural visit to the country, met a rather
eccentric man aboard the plane.
The man, who was completely covered in a blanket, came
over to the minister to have a chat.
"He asked me if I was going to Bhagwan Shree Satya Sai
Baba's Ashram (a Hindu religious retreat), and I thought
it quite strange that he would ask such a question,"
When the minister said it was not part of his itinerary
to visit the ashram, the man insisted that the minister
Strangely enough, when the minister arrived in Delhi, he
was told his flights had been changed so he could now go
to the ashram. The minister complied and went to
Bangalore where the ashram is.
He was also sent a car to be taken to his "planned"
destination quite early in the morning.
When he reached the ashram, he sat waiting with hundreds
of others for the revered Indian saint, Sai Baba, to
He was quite shocked when the highly revered Swami
"I was overwhelmed that someone of Swami's stature could
come over to talk to me, and so when I was asked a few
questions by him, I was unable to reply," he said.
After the satsangh (prayer service) Sai Baba invited
Singh and his wife, Manitha, along with about 20 other
people, to a private meeting.
During the meeting the swami started talking about South
Africa, which he seemed to know much about.
He also knew everything about Singh.
An elated Singh and his wife were then given vibuthi
(sacred ashes) and were asked if they would like
anything else, and Singh jokingly replied that he would
like to take home something "material".
In a somewhat miraculous gesture Baba took out a ring
"out of nowhere", recalls Singh. "He placed the ring on
my finger and it was a perfect fit."
The ring is a wonderful sentimental item, according to
Singh, because it reminds him of the swami and his
teachings of loving and serving humanity.
Singh wears his ring at all times and says this is an
item that he rarely parts with - except when he feels a
need to, like when a close friend's daughter was
involved in an accident and was severely injured, he
lent her the ring to keep, as a token of comfort, and he
says she is well today.
Singh also mentions that his ring, which is in perfect
condition, has been worn consistently - except, of
course, "when I put on weight," he chuckles, "then I
kept my ring in my wallet until I lose the weight."
The ring appears to be made of gold with a few white
stones, but Singh says although he is not really sure
what it is made of, he is sure of where and who he got
it from and this is what makes it precious to him.
Singh also carries a picture of Sai Baba in his wallet,
and has done so for the past 16 years.
He says he is an ardent follower of the Swami's
He was introduced to the teachings of Sai Baba through a
friend called Prem Singh.
Occupation: Minister of Arts, Culture and Tourism
Resides in: Umkomaas
Married to: Manitha and has two children, Keshika and
Favourite food: Any biryani
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite hangout: My TV room in my home
Hobbies: Watching Indian movies at home, and watching
Motto: Honesty and integrity take a person a long way
Date: July 31, 2005