Resurrection of Walter Cowan
Supernatural Acts Of God-Sai Baba
John Hislop writes 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 himself 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 there.
Walter had fallen to the floor in the very 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
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 sawBaba 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
After hearing Walter, I asked Baba if Walter was just imagining the
incidents. Baba replied that it was not imagination. The events were real.
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 common
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 Samiti 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
bad 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 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 hospital."
Now the fact was, that my wife had been following in a car. How ever, 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 known to other
devotees. The Raja of Ventagiri told me of his experience when, some
twenty or so years ago, he 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 the
customary human experience.