The Resurrection of Walter Cowan
How Baba brought Walter Cowan
back to life
Swami with Walter and Elsie Cowan
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
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 and miseries.
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
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 mystery?
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
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
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,
Raising from the dead
Excerpts from the book "Sai
Baba. The Holy Man and The Psychiatrist" by Dr. Samuel Sandweiss