DAY 1 : THURSDAY (Contd.)
SHIRDI SAI PARTHI SAI
At first, name and form are essential, that is the reason why Avatars come, so that God can be loved, adored, worshipped, listened to and followed, and finally realized as nameless and formless.
~ Baba ~
Who is this Sathya Sai Baba? Is this Swami, who displays inordinate, supra-human captivating powers, truly God? Is he an incarnation? We do not know even our own nature fully. We are incapable of understanding the true nature of even our closest associates. How can we then comprehend the complexity of the Principle and personality of an incarnation? One understands the nature of the moon at least to some extent, although we have only the moonlight to go by, and lamps as reference points, can be of little use. Similarly, if we venture to understand Lord Sai, we have to fall back on the only measuring tools available to us, namely, the illustrative incidents provided by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Himself and also His own Messages.
JODI ADIPALLI SOMAPPA
It was 25th November 1958. After witnessing Swami's birthday festivities at Prashanti Nilayam on the 23rd, Venkataram and his family left by car for Bangalore. When they reached village Bagepalli on the way, there was a crisis as their little girl, Geetha Sudha, was found to have stopped breathing. The family felt that she was on the verge of dying, if not already dead. In their agony, the family members looked around for help. An old man, apparently a farmer, appeared from nowhere. He came near and took the baby in his arms. At his touch, miraculously, the girl showed signs of life and cried. They were surprised to see the girl, whom they thought dead, come back to life so suddenly. Venkataram, the father of the little girl, was overjoyed and as a mark of gratitude offered a rupee to the unknown benefactor. The old man politely refused it. When Venkataram asked for his name, he said that he was known as Jodi Adipalli Somappa.
Later on, Swami narrated this incident to Sri Kasturi. "I went there in the form of an old villager," He said, "and it was I who gave life back to the dead child." Sri Kasturi wanted to know why Swami had thought of that peculiar name and whether any significance was attached to it. Swami explained, "Adipalli means the pristine village, the 'original' one, which is nothing but Kailasam, Lord Siva's abode. Jodi means a couple. Somappa (Sa+Uma) means Lord Siva together with Uma, His consort." Sri Sathya Sai Bhagavan thus revealed His real identity, that He is the personification of Lord Siva and Goddess Sakti, Siva-Sakti.
On another occasion, Swami asked someone by the name of Kailasam what would his name mean. He was somewhat taken aback as he did not know. He struggled in vain for a whole week searching for the answer to Swami's question. Then Swami Himself explained to him, "Kailasam signifies the cleanest, purest, and flawless crystal. It is also a symbol of the purest untainted heart. Lord Siva chose Kailasam as His celestial residence; and He also resides in a pure heart.
There stands on the highway close to Bagepalli, a building called Prema Kuteeram, the Cottage of Love and in its vicinity stands the marvelous structure celebrated as Sarva Dharma Sthoopam, incorporating the cardinal principles of all the religions of the world.
It was known as Prema Kuteeram at the time it was established in 1980. It was then known as Sri Sathya Sai Seva Sibiram (Service Camp). The organisers were Sai devotees and they used to serve refreshments to pilgrims on their way to Prashanti Nilayam to attend the festivities there, and also on their way back. By virtue of its dedicated service, the Sibiram received Baba's special appreciation and blessings. On 30 November 1980, Swami visited the Sibiram and told the organizers, "My blessings are always available in plenty to whosoever is dedicated to doing good." Inspired by Swami's blessings, the Sibiram widened its activities with renewed vigour. In due course, the Sarva Dharma Samanvaya Trust also came into being. It devoted itself to the establishment of a Seva Sadan, Orphanage and an Aged Peoples' Home.
It so happened that Mrs Anjali Devi, the celebrated Telugu film actress, Ms P Suseela, the well-known singer and some others were on their way to Puttaparthi. The organisers greeted them and requested them to stop for a while and accept prasadam (refreshments blessed by the Lord) provided at the Sibiram. But famed travelers did not appreciate the nice gesture. They mistook the hosts to be the usual run of cinema fans who were always eager to rub their shoulders with film folk. Disdaining the kindly offer, they went on their way. When they were with Swami later, He gently admonished them, "I am present not only in Prashanti Nilayam but also in the Seva Sibiram in Bagepalli." The lesson went home. On their return journey, they made it a point to stop at the Sibiram. They profusely apologized to the organisers and humbly accepted prasadam from their hands before resuming their journey.
Swami is known to move about in the area around Bagepalli assuming various forms at will. No doubt, He does this for the well-being of the residents there.
On 7th June 1996, Swami inaugurated the Aged Peoples' Home there and He announced, "This Sibiram is Prema Kuteeram, Sri Sathya Sai Prema Kuteeram." Ever since it has been known by that name. The sacred touch of His Lotus Feet has often sanctified the Prema Kuteeram. On 11th June 2000, Bhagavan again visited Prema Kuteeram and to the pleasure of the devotees, declared open the rest-house for the aged, the temple for Lord Ganesh and the cow shed.
BABA, THE SIVA-SAKTHI
Bhagavan was once walking on the sand-banks of the river Chithravathi in the company of His devotees. He was smiling enchantingly and moving gracefully. That attracted a cameraman who readied himself to take a photo. When he requested, "Swami, just one picture, please," Swami tried to put him off, "No, Bangaru, no," but the photographer already clicked his camera. When in due course the film was developed and printed, the photograph showed Swami as "Ardha Nareeswara" (the divine dual form of Lord Siva - one half as Siva and the other half as His consort, Devi Parvathi)!
Around 1945, when Dussehra processions were taken out from the Old Temple in Puttaparthi, Swami used to be dressed up as Ardha Nareeswara. Among those who witnessed the exalted form were his ardent devotees, Kumaramma and Sakamma, who used to recall the splendid vision quite often.
During the Thretha Yuga, there lived a great rishi called Maharshi Bharadwaja. He loved Vedic learning and devoted a hundred years of his life to it. Even so, he could not complete his studies.
Realizing this, there could be no end to his studies, he set about doing Thapas (spiritual austerities) in the name of Devendra, the Lord of the Devathas. Devendra finally appeared before the Maharshi and told him, "You will never be able to attain full understanding of the Vedas. Give up this fruitless pursuit. Instead, perform the Savithra Yaga, which will bestow on you the spiritual fulfillment you hope to obtain through Vedic studies." Maharshi Bharadwaja also received the necessary procedural instructions from Devendra.
The Maharshi desired very much that Goddess Sakthi should be personally present at the yajna. He went to Kailasam for inviting Her in person. He found Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi dancing together and totally engrossed. The rishi could not find a convenient moment to make his request to Goddess Sakthi. Seven days passed as he waited and waited. He was having darshan of only Lord Siva, not of Sakthi. He felt disappointed and miserable. On the eighth day, however, Sakthi gave him just a sideward glance, smiled softly, then turned quickly away and resumed her dance. Sage Bharadwaja mistook that Devi Sakthi had delibrately slighted him. He immediately left Kailasam and headed home. While coming down the hill on his way back, suddenly his left leg and hand went out of control, as if they were dead. His speech was gone. One eye went blind. Apparently, he had a stroke of paralysis. Lord Siva came to his rescue. He drew near and consoled him with kind words, "Don't worry, my dear rishi. Devi Sakthi has truly blessed you as well as your Yaga." With these re-assuring words, the Lord sprinkled some water from His Kamandal (pitcher) onto the disconcerted sage. Immediately, the rishi regained his faculties. Both Lord Siva and Goddess Sakthi promised that they would together attend his Yaga and bade him farewell.
Bharadwaja successfully completed his Yaga in due course. Both Lord Siva and Devi Sakthi attended it and blessed him. As a token of their pleasure, Lord Siva promised the Rishi, "Both of us will incarnate in human form in your 'gothram' (Vamsam, dynasty) no less than three times. In the first incarnation, I will be Sai Baba in Shirdi. In the second, both of us together will incarnate in Puttaparthi as Sathya Sai Baba. Finally, Devi Sakthi will incarnate as Prema Sai." He went on to say, "Oh rishi, when you came to Kailasam, Devi Sakthi ignored you for eight days. In atonement thereof, when both of us take human form in your dynasty, Devi Sakthi too will suffer in the same way as you had suffered in Kailasam. When that happens, I will sprinkle holy water on Sakthi and make Her regain the faculties in the same way as I restored yours in Kailasam."
On 29th June 1963, Bhagavan Sai Baba suffered a stroke due to thrombosis and the left side of His body was paralyzed. Hundreds of devotees who had assembled in Prashanti Nilayam were agonized on seeing the suffering of the Master. During that week, Swami was in coma for three days. He survived four heart attacks. Disconsolate devotees could do nothing but shed bitter tears in utter helplessness. After a full week, on the Guru Poornima day, 6th July, Bhagavan was very carefully brought down from his upper floor apartment to the Bhajan Hall on the ground floor in the arms of Sri Kasturi, Sri Raja Reddy and Sri Krishnappa. It was obviously difficult to seat Baba as usual in his throne on the elevated dais. So, the silver throne was brought down and placed on the ground close to the dais. Soft cushions were positioned so as to avoid discomfort to Baba, and He was slowly eased into it. Baba's left hand was stiff. The left leg was equally out of control. His eyes too were unclear. On finding their beloved Lord in that terrible state of suffering, the devotees began to wail loudly. Then Swami whispered to Sri Kasturi in barely intelligible words, "This illness is not Mine. On My own volition, I have taken over this illness on Myself. No disease can ever assail Me. Let nobody worry. I cannot bear if My devotees suffer." Sri Kasturi used the microphone to announce Baba's words to the gathering.
Swami gestured for water to drink. When a tumbler of water was held to His lips, He could not hold it properly and the fingers of His right hand slipped into the water. With those fingers, He sprinkled a little water on the limp left hand and the left leg. He gently stroked His left hand with His right hand; and after in a few moments, stroked His left leg with both His hands.
The astonished assembly of devotees, now delirious with joy and ecstasy, realized that Swami had cured Himself. They heard Him addressing them in the microphone, "Prema Swaroopulara (Oh, Embodiments of Love)!" He began delivering His customary address on the auspicious day of the Guru Poornima!
Swami spoke for an hour regaling the audience with His characteristic eloquence, lucidity and exquisite humor. He related the eight-day suffering of Rishi Bharadwaja, at the end of which Lord Siva made him whole by sprinkling holy water on his paralyzed limbs. Swami recalled the Lord's promise that He and His consort would incarnate on the earth as Siva-Sakthi, that Sakthi (represented by the left side of the body) would suffer for eight days, at the end of which Lord Siva (the right side of the body) would restore Her to health by sprinkling holy water.
In ringing tones, Swami declared, "I am Siva-Sakthi, born in the gothram of rishi Bharadwaja by virtue of the boon conferred on him by Lord Siva and Goddess Sakthi in the Thretha Yuga."
LIFE STORY OF LORD SHIRDI SAI
People knew only the later part of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba's life, i.e., subsequent to His arrival in Shirdi. No details were available regarding His earlier life. When was He born and where? Who were His parents? What was His life like prior to His appearance in Shirdi? These remained unknown until Sri Sathya Sai Baba revealed them in Prashanti Nilayam on 28th September 1990, the date and month coinciding with the birthday of Shirdi Sai Baba, as declared by Baba. Obviously, little known secrets of an incarnation can be brought to light by none else but another incarnation. The life story of Shirdi Sai as disclosed by Sri Sathya Sai Baba is given here.
In the village of Pathri situated in the then Nizam's dominions lived a devout couple named Gangabhava and Devagiri Amma. The lady was an ardent devotee of Goddess Gowri (consort of Lord Siva, also known as Parvathi). Her husband was a devotee of Lord Siva. They had no children. This made them all the more detached from worldly concerns. They spent all their time in worship of Lord Siva and Devi Parvathi. Gangabhava plied a river boat for a living. It was the rainy season and the river was in flood. Fearing that his boat might be swept away if unattended, Gangabhava told his wife that he would go to the banks of the river and stay there overnight with his boat and take care of it. She gave him his evening meal at 7 pm and finished her own meal soon after he left.
At about 9 pm, there was a knock on the front door. Thinking that it was her husband and wondering what made him come back so soon, she anxiously opened the door. An old man was standing outside. He promptly stepped in and said, "Oh Lady, it is very cold outside. Will you kindly give me a little space inside for spending the night here?" Hospitable by nature, she produced a mattress, gave it to him and showed him a place on the veranda to sleep in. She retired to her own room, closed its door and went to bed. But not long after, the old man knocked on the door again. When she opened it, he said, "Oh kind lady, I am feeling hungry. May I have a little rice to eat." Finding nothing worthwhile in her kitchen except some milled grain, she prepared a little meal with curds and gave it to him. She went back to her room, closed the door and prepared to sleep. After a little while, the old man once again knocked on the door. When she opened it, he said, "Dear Lady, my feet are aching. Will you kindly massage them a little?"
She was startled. She went into her pooja room, fell at the feet of Goddess Parvathi in tears and cried, "Oh, Divine Mother, what is this terrible test you are putting me to? What should I do now? Kindly save me from this humiliating situation." In a few moments, she regained her composure. An idea flashed in her mind. Leaving by the rear door of the house, she went in search of somebody who could be of service to her guest on payment. Her efforts bore no fruit and she returned home in despair.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the rear door. When it was opened, a woman stepped in and said, "Madam, it seems you came to my house asking for help to attend on an old man here. I have come to offer my services." Devagiri Amma rejoiced that her earnest prayers had been answered. She took the woman onto the veranda, left her with the old man and went back to her own room closing its door behind her.
That old man who asked for such strange service from a saintly lady, and the woman who came forward to serve him were no ordinary humans. They were Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi! They began talking with each other. Lord Siva said, "Devi Parvathi, grant this devout lady whatever she earnestly desires." Goddess Parvathi replied, "You are the Supreme Lord. You do it yourself." Lord Siva answered, "I have come here to test her devotion. But you have come here in response to her earnest prayers. It would be appropriate if you granted boons to her."
Once again, there was a knock on the bedroom door. Now that there was another woman in the house, Devagiri Amma opened the door without any hesitation. She found Lord Siva and her beloved Devi Gowri standing in front of her in resplendent glory. Her heart was full with happiness and joy. Unable to bear the flood of emotion, she fell at their Divine Feet. Goddess Gowri spoke, "I am blessing you with a boy who will bring glory to your vamsam and also a girl so that you may derive punyam by giving her away in marriage (Kanyadan) to some one." Devagiri Amma touched Lord Siva's feet. He said, "My dear child, I am pleased with your devotion. I myself will take birth in human form as your third child." The ecstatic lady, so amply blessed, with eyes brimming, did deep obeisance to Lord Siva and Goddess Gowri. When she lifted her head, they had disappeared.
She was now in raptures. She was now eager and impatient. When will the day dawn? When will her husband return home? How soon could she share her heavenly experience with him? She could sleep no more. At daybreak, her husband came home and heard from his wife all that had happened. But he was in no mood to believe. He said, "Dear Devagiri, you seem to have lost your senses, you must be dreaming; Lord Siva and Devi Parvathi visiting our house in person! Giving you darshan! What nonsense!" He took to ridicule. She tried to convince him, but he refused to be convinced.
Time sped by fast and Devagiri Amma became pregnant. As she anticipated, a male baby took birth. A year later, a baby girl was born. Gangabhava found that two of the events which his wife had mentioned had now come true. He was now willing to believe that Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi had indeed given darshan to his wife. He told his wife, "You were most fortunate. I was not."
The thought got firmly rooted in his mind and grew with time. He was determined to secure darshan of Lord Siva and Devi Parvathi. Eventually his wife was pregnant again, for the third time. This final piece of proof strengthened his mind decisively. Maya (illusion) gave way to enlightenment. Now he became restless. When should I get away from this house? 'When should I commence thapas (spiritual pursuit)? How soon would I be able to obtain darshan of Lord Siva and Devi Gowri?' These thoughts were gnawing at his heart. He undertook vows of austerity. Meanwhile, nine months passed. He became more and more impatient. He could wait no longer. He decided that he would immediately retire to the forests to continue his spiritual pursuit vigorously. Devagiri Amma was not a person to draw back. She too accompanied him despite her delicate condition. On the way, she delivered a male baby right there on the way in the forest beneath a banyan tree. That was 28th September 1838.
Devagiri Amma swaddled the new born infant comfortably in a piece of her saree, covered him with soft leaves and left him where he was born, and followed her husband. That is how nobody knew anything about the parents of that baby until Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba revealed it all, over a century later.
There was a Sufi Fakir in the neighbouring village. He had no sons. He found this abandoned baby and took him home. From 1838 to 1842, the child grew up in that Fakir's house. After the Fakir passed away, his wife looked after the boy. His behaviour was quite abnormal. He would go to Hindu temples and shout, "I am Allah" (I am God) and "Allah Malik Hai" (God is the Master). Hindus used to trouble him. He would go into Masjids and cry, "Rama alone is God" and "Siva is Allah". Because of his odd and unconventional behavior, people of both faiths used to complain to the late Fakir's wife. She found it difficult to set him right. She knew a person, Venkusa by name, who was a scholar and a devout person reputed to be an exalted soul. She took the unruly boy to Venkusa and left him in the great man's care. From 1842 to 1851, for nine longs years, he was looked after by Venkusa, who treated him with great affection and love. That aroused jealousy and malice in the hearts of the other residents in Venkusa's ashram. One day, the boy left that place and reached Shirdi, where he stayed for a couple of months. Thereafter, he left Shirdi too and wandered from place to place for several years.
In the course of his travels, he arrived at a village named Dhoopkheda. During his stay there, it so happened that a marriage was fixed in the household of a resident of the village, named Chand Bhai Patel, whose wife's younger brother was the bridegroom. Accompanying the bridegroom's party, the peripatetic boy went to Shirdi. It was the year 1857 and he remained there for good till his passing away in 1918. He became known as Sai Baba. His extraordinary spiritual powers were soon noticed and people began flocking to Him. He received them with kindness and compassion, patiently hearing their problems and sufferings with sympathy and love, and gave appropriate directions to enable them to overcome their difficulties. He would give them mental strength and confidence and spiritual guidance. Gradually, His fame spread far and wide.
The above account was given by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He also described the close relationship between Shirdi Sai Baba and His devotees, such as Hari Vinayak Sathe, Kelkar, Shama and others. Sri Sathya Sai Baba said, "Towards the end of Shirdi Sai's earthly life, He told Abdulla who was close to Him, not to grieve at His passing away because He was going to be reborn and give him darshan again. When Abdulla enquired how soon that would be, Baba replied that it would be just eight years later; the first incarnation took place in Maharashtra; and the second one would be in Madras Presidency. (Madras Presidency at that time included Puttaparthi, which is in the present state of Andhra Pradesh). Abdulla further asked Baba in what form he would appear in the coming incarnation. Baba replied that He would bear the name of Sathyam. Evidently, what he was referring to is this present incarnation of Sri Sathya Sai. The two bodies are no doubt different but their Divinity is one and the same," said Swami.
Bhagavan concluded the absorbing story of His previous incarnation by explaining : "The purpose of the first incarnation of Shirdi Sai was to give intimations of divinity; the second, the present one, of Sathya Sai, is for gifting of divinity; and the third, the coming one of Prema Sai, will be for teaching divinity."
SHIRDI SAI'S PROMISE
In the previous chapter, we briefly read about Smt. Gali Sarada Devi, an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. Married at an early age, she begot six male children. But not even one survived beyond the sixth year of age. Immensely distressed, she went to Shirdi and begged Sai Baba to grant spiritual peace to her. He received her with sympathy, offered her solace and facilitated her spiritual progress. She often begged Him to initiate her into some potent manthra in order to help her in spiritual advancement. He was putting her off somehow or the other, appearing on occasions to be angry too. Sometime in 1918, a little before Shirdi Sai merged in the Infinite, she held His feet firmly pleading once again for manthra-updadesh. Apparently vexed with her insistence, Sai Baba turned on her in anger and kicked her in the chest. Deeply hurt, she left him, denied herself food and slept that night in the open ground under a tree opposite Dwarakamayi. Late in the night, the compassionate Baba approached her and gently pacified her with soothing words, "My dear child Gori, I will tell you something. Let us go to the Lendi garden. How can I sleep soundly when you are in distress and are starved?" On reaching the garden, He stretched His hand up and uttering, "Allah Malik Hai" (God is the Master), materialized a couple of puris and a bit of khoya to go with them. When she tried to go and fetch drinking water, He stopped her and materialized a tiny pot of water in the same manner as He had produced the food a little earlier. After she ate and felt relaxed, He spoke in a pleasing tone, "Look, my child Gori, I will tell you something but before that you should hold My feet and promise Me that you will not tell this to any one." After she did so, He continued, "I will be reborn in the Andhra region with this same name of Sai Baba. You will then come to Me, enjoy My close company and attain happiness. You are now well past the need for any manthra. After you see Me in My second avathar, you may tell this to others when occasion arises." Sarada Devi considered herself most fortunate and that her life was blessed. Soon after this incident, on the Dussehra day (15th October 1918), Sri Shirdi Sai shed his mortal coil at 2:30 pm and attained Maha Samadhi.
More than 20 years sped by. She was now running an orphanage. She was travelling from place to place, giving Harikatha performances to raise funds. During her travels, she happened to go to Uravakonda. She had heard a lot about a 'miracle boy' called Sathyam. She went to see him in the house of Sri Seshama Raju, the boy's elder brother, where the boy was then staying. Sathyam noticed her and invited her to sit close to Him. When he addressed her in a pleasing tone, "Gori," she was startled as that was the same sweet and affectionate way Shirdi Sai alone, and nobody else used to address her. Sathyam added, "You owe me Rs 16. Do you remember?" She was confused particularly because she was seeing him for the first time. He went on, "You had collected Rs 40 for sending to Shirdi. But you sent only Rs 24 through Balaram. So, don't you own me Rs 16 still?" To reassure her, He said, "I have reminded you about this merely to prove to you that I am Shirdi Baba. As you came in, you did not bother to offer me even namaskar (salutation) but just sat down as soon as you entered." Poor Sarada Devi was now in tears. She fell on his feet and pressed them to her bosom just as she was habituated to do at Shirdi. Sathyam calmed her and said, "I had told you then but you did not pay heed to my word. You forgot it altogether but now you have reached me. I am proceeding to Puttaparthi. Follow me and I will let you know everything there." Later, at the instructions of Sri Sathya Sai, she took up permanent residence in Prashanti Nilayam. As mentioned earlier, Baba gave her the name of "Pedda Bottu". She lived in Baba's proximity in Prashanti Nilayam till the end of her life.
Shirdi Baba would often display great anger. But Sathya Sai Baba is always a picture of sweetness and pleasantness. Swami once explained the nature of this attitudinal difference, "When the mother is busy cooking in the kitchen, she gets irritated and angry if her children distract her by making even a little disturbance. But when she later serves the cooked food to them, she is full of affection, love and patience. The former avathar at Shirdi was the stage of preparing tasty dishes; now it is the stage of serving those dishes to you with love."
BODIES ARE TWO, BUT DIVINITY IS ONE
Om Sai Shirdi Sai Abheda Sakti Avatharaya Namah
As a child, Madhav S Dikshit had seen Shirdi Sai Baba but spent the last phase of his life with Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba at Brindavan in White Field near Bangalore. As a boy, he suffered from unbearable pain due to migrane. Hari Sitaram Dikshit, the elder brother of the boy's father, took him to Shirdi Baba. This Hari Sitaram Diskshit was generally known as Kakasahed Dikshit. Baba rubbed some ashes taken from his Dhuni (fireplace) on the forehead of the boy and brusquely ordered him to go away. The boy was taken aback at what he felt was a slap on his face and curt dismissal. He made up his mind never again to go to Baba. But his uncle, HS Dikshit, assured him that what he mistook as a slap was, on the other hand, Baba's blessing. Besides, what Baba ordered out so curtly to go away was not the boy but his migrane! He added, "Everyone of us here has been waiting and waiting for some such sign of Baba's grace. If only He would give a similar 'slap' to anybody, he would feel immensely blessed!" Ever since this incident, the vexatious migraine never appeared again.
Several years later, having heard that Shirdi Baba had taken reincarnation as Sathya Sai Baba, M.S. Dikshit went to Puttaparthi along with some of his friends. It was 23rd October 1961, Vijaya Dashami day. Speaking on that occasion, Swami said, "This Divine Power left the previous body in the year 1918. At that time, I told devotees that I would come back again after eight years. While putting down on paper what I had stated, Kakasahed Dikshit recorded in his diary that I promised to come back 'as an eight year old boy'. This mistake occurred because Kakasaheb Dikshit did not make his noting immediately on hearing Me, but took quite a while to do so, then too, after a long time, so he relied solely on his memory."
M.S. Dikshit happened to be at Puttaparthi for the Siva Rathri festivities. A doubt arose in his mind, "What is this? Shirdi Baba was an unassuming personality wearing simple clothes. Could He have taken, on rebirth, the form of the dandy I see now before me? Here he seems to be dressed more like a cinema actor." All the while he was watching Bhagavan on the dais bathing Shirdi Sai's image with unending streams of vibhuti pouring out of a small vessel held above the head of the image. He watched also the miracle of Sivalingams (an elliptical symbol of the Supreme Being) emerging out of Bhagavan's mouth. There followed a discourse from Bhagavan in the course of which He said, "Some persons present here are thinking that it is quite odd that I should wear silk clothes like a cinema actor and that I sport a peculiar type of hairdo." Dikshit was startled, he had no doubt that Baba was surely referring to his own doubts and felt disturbed.
Baba summoned M.S. Dikshit into the interview room. There was a photograph of his late uncle, Kakasaheb Dikshit, in his pocket. Swami saw the picture and said, "This is your uncle, H.S. Dikshit's picture. He was my devotee when I was in Shirdi. Do you still have any doubts in your mind?" All doubts in Dikshit's mind vanished. But a single ardent wish remained unfulfilled! He had very much desired to serve as the doorkeeper of Shirdi Baba's room. Bhagavan knew this. He fulfilled his desire by assigning the same job to him in Brindavan. Swami also said to him, "Your time has come to go to heaven, but Swami has decided to increase your life by eight years because you stayed with Shirdi Baba for eight years." Dikshit lived in a house right in front of the gate of Brindavan. He died eight years later.
The 2nd of October 1996 was a red-letter day. Devotees worshipped 1008 pairs of Padukas (replicas of Baba's sandals) on that day in the grand venue of Sai Kulwant Hall. Dr D.J. Gadhia spoke on that occasion. When Baba spoke later, He referred to Dr Gadhia and said, "He is the son of M.S. Dikshit and grandson of Kakasaheb Dikshit who had lived in Shirdi. This Dr Gadhia did not see him but I saw him. His father, M.S. Dikshit, brought and showed to me the diaries kept by Kakasaheb Dikshit. He had recorded therein that whatever difficulties one might face in life, one should never give up Swami. This doctor's father, M.S. Dikshit, stayed in Brindavan for 30 years. It was I who encouraged this Gadhia to study medicine and sent him to Manipal. Subsequently, I pressed him to go to London. Thus, the association of this person with Sai Baba comes down from his forefathers' times, long, long ago.
"This is what applies to everyone here. Otherwise, there is no possibility at all of your ever coming here. You have entered onto this path only by virtue of the cumulative stock of good fortune and punyam acquired over several previous lives. There are crores of people in India. How many of them are able to come here? Many people do have the desire to come; yet they are unable to fulfill their desire. It is a matter of divine blessing that you have been able to come to this holy place," Swami said.
BABA IS ALL PERVASIVE
Tidemann Johanessen, a Norwegian from Oslo, happened to come to Puttaparthi. Swami materiliazed a ring and presented it to him to ward off the problems he was beset with. A few years later, while travelling in Bangladesh, he lost that ring in a river near Chittagong. A month after the loss, when Tidemann arrived in Whitefield, Bhagavan came to him and placed the lost ring in his hand. Swami told the astounded Tidemann, "This ring came into My hands because I am there in that river. Not only in that river, I am present in every river, everywhere." Swami is all-pervasive, omnipresent.
Once a lady devotee from Kanpur came to see Shirdi Sai in Dwaraka Mayi. She saluted him and sat down. Baba asked her whether the birthday celebrations of her son had gone on well. She told him, "Baba, we spent that day happily. We invited all our relatives and feasted them. Prior to that we arranged all the eatables in a silver plate as offerings to You and left the plate in the pooja room. A little later, we wanted to serve that prasadam to the guests but we found that the plate had disappeared. Only my husband and I, and none else, entered that pooja room. How could it disappear? We all felt unhappy at losing it. Baba, what's happened?" Sai Baba replied, "Do you remember that as your placed the plate before Me in the pooja room, you prayed to Me to come personally on the happy occasion of your boy's birthday and partake of the naivedyam? As you had desired, I came there and ate them all. Not being sure whether you would believe it, I brought away the silver plate with me. Here it is!" He pushed His hand behind the pillow on which He was leaning, drew out the plate and gave it to her. She was immensely surprised and delighted.
Abdulla was regularly cleaning that place in Dwaraka Mayi thoroughly. He would rearrange the cushions and bed sheets daily as a part of his chores. Abdulla did not turn up on that particular day and someone else did the job. No one however, had found any plate there earlier. How did it suddenly make its appearance now? We can understand what Bhagavan means when he says He is omnipresent.
"I KNOW, YOU DON'T"
Sathya Sai Baba was then touring Kerala. At the request of His devotees, He visited a village near Trivandrum, now known as Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. In His entourage was Dr S Bhagavantham, the celebrated scientist. Devotees far and near attended the meeting held there. Swami pointed to Dr Bhagavantham, who was by his side, an old lady standing in a corner of the huge gathering. He mentioned that He had known her ever since her childhood. Dr Bhagavantham, wondered in his mind, "Baba is much younger. That woman is evidently much older. How could it be that her childhood is known to Swami?" He asked Swami, "Baba, You are but 30 years old. That old woman must be in her seventies. How is it possible that You know her ever since she was a child?" Baba promptly clarified that He had known her in His previous incarnation.
A little later, Dr Bhagavantham went around among the people gathered. He quietly approached the old woman, engaged her in converstation and enquired, "Did you ever visit Shirdi?" She replied, "When I was a little child, my uncle, the younger brother of my father, took me to Shirdi for Baba's darshan. Baba gave me a pendant that I still wear around my neck. Here it is." She showed it to Dr Bhagavantham, whose doubts were then cleared.
When we hear of this incident, we are reminded of a verse in the Bhagavad Gita at the beginning of Chapter 4. Lord Sri Krishna, we read there, told Arjuna, "I taught this immortal Yoga long ago to Vivaswan (the Sun God). He conveyed it to Manu, who imparted it to his son, Ikshwaku. Now, again, I have imparted this ancient Yoga to you." Arjuna queried "Oh Krishna, the Sun God is there ever since the creation. He dates back to remote antiquity. You belong to the present age. How is it possible that you had taught this to the Sun God so long ago? Lord Krishna explained :
Bahooni Me Vyatheethani Janmani Thava Cha Arjuna,
Thani Aham Veda Sarvani, Na Thvam Vettha Paranthapa.
"He Arjuna, you and I have passed through numerous births. I possess the awareness of all those births; but you do not."
Om Sri Sathya Sai Parabrahmane Namah
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
End of Chapter 2
(From : 'Thapovanam' Sri Sathya Sai Sathcharithra
by "Santisri" Jandhyala Venkateswara Sastry)
Copyright reserved by Author (1928-2003)