A Child Shall Lead Them
How the faith of little
Mayan gave her a new life
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Howard Murphet and his wife
Iris met the Harrison family in 1976 and through them could see
the unfolding of ‘a great Australian miracle’. For a detailed
account of this incident, over to Howard Murphet:
Early in 1976 in Australia my wife and I became acquainted with
Pearl Harrison, a retired secretary of the medical faculty of a
university in Sydney. At first we thought this seemed to be just
a chance meeting, but later we wondered.
At that time the manuscript of my book ‘Sai Baba Avatar’, after
much rewriting, was ready for the final, publisher's draft.
Pearl, although busy with volunteer welfare work, expressed a
desire to type the manuscript. Why she should have this desire
she did not understand, but she does now.
Anyway, arrangements were made for her to do the typing, and
thus she was introduced to the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba. One
of her two grand daughters, eight-year-old Mayan Waynberg would,
at times, help Pearl by reading aloud the material to be typed.
While the grandmother felt sceptical about the miracles, the
granddaughter accepted them without question. To the child they
seemed quite natural.
The typing of the first few chapters had been completed when
Mayan, who had lately been looking very pale and had been
bruising too easily, was taken to a doctor for a blood test. The
doctor was appalled at the results. He phoned Mayan's mother,
Helen Waynberg, and strongly advised that the child should be
collected from her school and taken home to rest without delay.
He also made immediate arrangements for her to be given a
bone-marrow test at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.
At this stage the family became very worried indeed. Pearl told
me about it when I called to find out how the typing was
progressing. I could see she was afraid, very afraid, that her
little granddaughter might have some drastic, killer disease,
like leukemia. It proved not to be leukemia, but something
equally lethal - aplastic anaemia, in which the bone-marrow
fails to produce the vital blood components in sufficient
quantity to maintain health and life.
Her blood picture at that time showed the haemoglobin count at
less than half normality, the white components of the blood
about a third the normal level and the platelets way down to
one-fifteenth of the normal count. Mayan was put under the care
of a specialist who told her mother that the only treatment was
the use of certain drugs, one a male hormone named Prednisolone
and another, Fluoxymesterone.
From both of these, distressing side effects could be expected,
such as stunting the child's growth, causing puffiness and
obesity, hair growth on the face while causing baldness on the
head. The patient would need to have constant blood and bone
marrow tests to monitor her condition. As Mayan had a deep
phobia about needles piercing her skin and blood vessels, this
was a frightful ordeal for her and everyone else concerned.
But the most tragic part of the situation was that, after going
through this treatment and suffering its side effects, she would
still not be cured. The best that could be expected was a few
more years of life, with very limited activity. The drug therapy
was not a cure, the elders were told; all it could do was to
delay the inevitable for a time. No one could say how long that
period would be.
In this sad situation Pearl thought about the Sai miracles she
had been typing. She writes:
“I must admit to complete lack of faith in religion, considering
myself a Jewess by tradition but not by observance. I had typed
about many miracles that Sai Baba had performed, and had thought
how interesting it all sounded intellectually, but had not this
dreadful illness occurred to my own granddaughter, I might have
let it go at that.
Then it was as if my mind suddenly opened with a jerk, and I
began to think that perhaps there was something real in all I
had typed. Howard and Iris Murphet were most concerned when I
told, them about Mayan. They said they would bring some Vibhuti
over and Mayan could start taking it immediately.”
It has often been said and written that Sai Baba is specially
interested in anyone in whom his devotees are interested. So the
link was there. Yet, I remembered him saying emphatically that
two necessary ingredients of divine healing are faith and
surrender. Could we find such ingredients in this Sydney
suburban home, where no one seemed to have religious or
spiritual interests, and Sai Baba was a remote, almost
fictional, figure in a far-off foreign country?
Well, we could but try. To Mayan I said earnestly, 'You must
really and truly believe in the power of Sai Baba!'
'Oh, but I do', she replied, and in the way she said it I sensed
the simple, child-like faith that Christ had put of first
A little later, Grandfather Jack Harrison made me feel that he
too may be fertile soil for faith. He said, standing in the
garden of their home, 'I am going to India as soon as I can to
thank Sai Baba for curing Mayan.' He did not say, 'If he cures
her.' The Sai treatment had hardly begun, yet he seemed to have
no doubts about its effectiveness.
We may be born with faith, that inner certainty of the
omnipotent Supreme, or we may acquire it, but we can never
acquire it through reasoning and logic. In fact, the reasoning
mind can be a handicap, blocking the birth of the deeper
knowledge that men call faith.
Grandmother Pearl had her intellectual barriers but a very warm
heart. Mother Helen was non-committal. Judging by her talk, she
was atheistic but she was willing to try the Vibhuti treatment.
We kept assuring the family of the importance of prayer -
constant prayer. They agreed to pray to Swami for His help. My
wife and I prayed to Him fervently and regularly.
There was, however, an urgent question to be answered. We knew
from studying many cases that Swami sometimes cures people
through drugs prescribed by doctors, while preventing any bad
side effects. Sometimes, on the other hand, He will not let
drugs be used at all. What would be His Will in the case of
The only way to be sure was to ask Him. In the meantime, we
thought, it would be best to let the child start the drug
therapy, particularly as the doctors had said that no
side-effects would become evident for about three months. We had
to find some way of asking Swami the vital question as soon as
possible. He must be asked directly.
By a stroke of good fortune, our friend Lynette Penrose was
about to set off on a visit to Sai Baba. Incidentally, it had
been in Lynette's home in Balmain that we first began Sai
meetings in Sydney. Lynette agreed to take to Swami a photograph
of Mayan, and letters asking the vital question about drug
treatment. We hoped, moreover, that she would have the
opportunity of asking Him this question, herself, orally. She
went off to India, and we all eagerly awaited word from her. It
was not long before an airmail letter arrived.
Lynette told us that she had been granted an interview and had
given the photograph and letters to Swami. When He looked at the
photograph, she wrote, 'His face had become very, very soft and
compassionate.' About the drug therapy His reply was, 'No, no
drugs, just Vibhuti in water twice a day.'
Pearl Harrison writes: 'When this message came back, we had to
decide whether to take her off the drugs and give her Vibhuti
Mayan made up our minds for us. She said, 'If Sai Baba says I
should not take drugs, then I won't take them.'
So after just three weeks on the drugs, she went off them and
took nothing but Vibhuti from then on. This was putting complete
faith in the healing power of someone no member of the family
had ever seen, except in photographs.
We felt some responsibility as we had been the channel through
which they had heard of Sai Baba. All we could do was to hold
fast to our own trust and faith in the Lord. Then we thought of
something that might help at the receiving end of the divine
healing ray. We suggested that they start holding Sathya Sai
meetings at the Harrison home in Greenacre. They readily agreed
to this, and their house in Latvia Street became the second
centre opened in Sydney for Bhajans and study.
The meetings were a success from the start, people coming from
all parts of the metropolitan area, and from distant places in
the Blue Mountains and the south coast. Soon Jack Harrison
decided to convert his large garage into a Sai temple, buying a
new carport to shelter his car. Within the Sai temple, lined and
decorated with the help of devotees, a beautiful shrine was
erected. The place acquired a sacred atmosphere and the size of
the group expanded. It was surprising to see, both at the
Greenacre temple and at Balmain, how quickly and wholeheartedly
the Australians took to singing Bhajans.
Many learned to lead (the Bhajans), the child Mayan being one of
them. Mayan's health was soon showing a steady improvement. The
family decided it might be better to let the doctors think, for
the time being, that Mayan was taking their drugs. Every two
weeks she was given a blood test at the hospital, and the
medical people were delighted at the results. No doubt they were
There was a dramatic rise in her red blood cell count, a good
improvement in the number of white cells, and the platelet count
was creeping upwards. After a few months of the Sai Vibhuti
treatment, with no medical assistance whatever, the red and
white cell count was back to normal. The doctors then decided
that tests could be taken every two months only, instead of
every two weeks as before.
Her platelets, in these tests, showed a rise of about 10,000
every two months. The doctors had earlier examined Mayan's
sister, Alona, who is about a year the senior, for bone-marrow
compatibility with that of Mayan. When the results were known,
and it was found that the sister's bone-marrow was compatible,
they advised a bone-marrow graft.
Even though Mayan's condition was showing satisfactory
improvement, the platelets were still far from normal, and it
was felt that such a graft would help in arresting the disease.
Thus another question was posed to the family and to us - should
the operation be performed?
Fortunately another Australian devotee, just leaving at this
time for Puttaparti, was able to ask Swami directly if the
operation should be done or not. Swami's reply was definite: 'She
is getting better and will soon be completely well. There is no
need for such an operation.'
The news came back to Greenacre quickly, and immediately it was
decided, to the great relief of Mayan, and indeed to all
concerned, that there would be no operation. The family felt
confident now that nothing was needed but Swami's power, coming
through the Vibhuti, to bring Mayan's platelets up to normal,
and so create a perfectly healthy blood picture.
But though climbing, the platelets were not normal when my wife
and I left for India early in 1978. However, before we had an
opportunity to speak to Swami about the case, we received a
letter from grandmother Pearl, telling us that Mayan's last
blood test, given after we left had shown her platelet count up
to normal - in fact, at 174,000, it was better than normal.
The child was completely cured of her 'incurable' disease. Early
the next year Jack and Pearl did what he had declared he would
do even before the treatment had begun. They came, bringing the
two granddaughters, to thank Swami personally for the wonderful,
miraculous cure. The family also, at the end, told the
specialist in charge of the case that sacred Vibhuti had been
substituted for the drugs he had prescribed. He was not so
shocked as they had expected.
In fact, he said: 'I thought it must be something like that as
there were no side-effects.' Then he added, 'My mother believes
in spiritual healing.' The doctor kindly gave the family all the
figures of Mayan's blood tests as documentary evidence. He also
agreed to accept a copy of the book, ‘SaiBaba: Man of Miracles’.
When Pearl handed it to him, she said: 'now don't let it just
lie on the shelf; read it, and then pass it on to somebody else.
If you feel you don't want to read it, please send it back to
me.' It has never come back.
Reference: “Sai Baba:
Invitation To Glory” by Mr. Howard Murphet. Page: 33-41.
Published by Macmillan India Ltd, 1982.