Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Time-travel to the days of declaration of Avatarhood of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - Part 4

Daily life with Swami - definitely not ‘routine’


October arrived and it brought with it great joy to all the students at the Karibasavaswami District Board High School (KDBHS). October meant Dusshera and Dusshera meant vacations! The bell marking the end of the last period before the vacations rang and all the children in the classroom screamed, delirious with joy. I decided that it was best to remain seated on Swami’s shoulder lest someone swat me in their excitement.

When we visited the KDBHS, the final exams were on and the children were already bubbling with anticipatory
joy about the coming vacations!

I turned to see Swami’s face. It was peaceful and joyous as ever. Nothing ever seems to disturb Him; nothing ever seems to excite Him. He is always an ocean of tranquility.
“Raju, what are your plans for the evening? Let us play something”, suggested an excited friend.
Surprisingly, he received no response from his Raju who just began walking towards home. Once we reached home, it was back to the daily ‘normal’ schedule. What is ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ for God is nothing short of ‘miraculous’ for all of us right? That is what Raju had told Seshama once, “What is sahajam (natural and spontaneous) for me is ascharyam (astonishing) for you.”

{A note to the reader here. While reading this part is definitely wonderful and revealing, the overall experience will be enhanced if read in chronological order. So, it is recommended that you arrive to this part having read the previous parts which are listed below:


Go ahead. Read them and then come here. The narrative will certainly wait for you.)


In this context, I must mention something fantastic that happened so spontaneously. Since the vacation had just started, Susheelamma, Sathyam’s sister-in-law decided to visit her mother’s house at Kamalpuram along with her two children, one of them just an infant. Only Swami  and Seshama stayed back at Uravakonda. It was about 11 am and, as was the practice, it was the lunch session. Both were dining quitely. I was peacefully lapping up those divine morsels that Swami was so lovingly ‘dropping’ for me. The ants too came and I was happy to share with them. With Swami, I felt like these ants too were somehow connected to me. I don’t know why I felt like they were also part of my family.

It was thrilling to see a beautiful image at the Budagavi Shiva temple (reference in
previous part). There is also a board in the premises which indicates that Bhagawan
Baba spent hours in this temple during His Uravakonda days.
 
The peaceful session was disturbed by the mailman who brought a telegram. It was from Susheelamma.
“Baby serious. Come immediately with Sathyam.”


“Get ready Sathyam. We are leaving for Kamalapuram”, said Seshama as he moved to get ready for the journey. In response, my Swami simply collapsed backwards. He seemed unconscious. Having witnessed the episodes following the alleged scorpion bite, I knew that this was a trance.


“Oh Sathyam! Are you ready yet”, the shout came from within.
“Come here and see for yourself what has happened”, I screamed. Only the ants looked up at me. They had thousands of steps to walk to reach near Swami. Seshama took a few steps and was at the supine body of his brother.
“Now what happened to this boy.... “, he said  sprinkling a few drops of water from His water glass. That did not seem to wake up and Seshama was in a fix.

“My fate”, he cursed, “that my brother has to have a medical emergency just when my daughter is having one!”


In about 5-10 minutes, Swami opened His eyes much to th relief of His brother. Before Seshama could speak, Swami said,
“Don’t worry. She will be alright by the time we reach Kamalapuram.”
Seshama Raju blinked for a while, not understanding what had just happened. He rushed Sathyam to get ready and soon, the three of us were on a bus headed towards Kamalapuram.


After a dusty and back-breaking journey, we reached Kamalapuram in the evening. Sisheelamma greeted her husband gleefully and I knew that Swami’s words had come true. Seshama asked about the baby and he was told that all was well.
“At about 11 o clock in the morning, a sadhu (literally translates into ‘good man’ and refers to a sage) arrived to Kamalapuram. I assume that he must have come by the Bombay-Madras train because he said that he was from Shirdi in Maharashtra. He gave vibhuti and asked for it to be administered to the baby. I don’t know how he knew about the baby being seriously ill. The baby recovered in a trice. I could not get hold of the sadhu. He left as suddenly as he came!!”, said Susheelamma.

And as Swami beautifully puts it in His dialogue on surrender, to surrender means to always remind oneself
"This is good for me", irrespective of what happens in life - good or bad. Thus, one never is proud of oneself
nor is one ever dejected. 

“Blame your husband for that sudden departure”, I thought, “he sprinkled water on Swami to hasten His return to ‘consciousness’!”
Well, I know that my statement was not true in any sense because nobody ever 'changes' or 'modifies' the Avatar's plans! Seshama was only His instrument to 'wake' Him!


Seshama was dumbstruck and I think he definitely gained some respect for his brother that day. I was so happy to have witnessed this beautiful miracle. We stayed at Kamalapuram for a couple of days before returning to Uravakonda.


The call


Tha vacation continued in Uravakonda and Swami ensured that all His friends spent their day in the most beautiful manner possible - in contemplation of God. Swami, in fact, defines a true friend as a person who leads one towards God. Little wonder that God alone can be a true friend for all! One day, as Swami and me were returning home from a morning bhajan session with all His friends, I could overhear His elder brother, Seshama Raju, speaking with someone.
“Hey Raju! Here is revered Ramaraju Garu. He has come to see you and talk to you.”
I later gathered that this Ramaraju was not an ordinary person. He was the Municipal chairman of town of Bellary.
“I know. I called him and so he came.”


A perplexed look came over Seshama’s face. How on earth did his school-going brother ‘call’ the Municipal Chairman of Bellary?
“Did you send him a telegram? Even if you did, why did he even respond to it?”
“You treat this boy as an ordinary lad Seshama Raju! That is not so. Both me and my wife received the call the same night, in our dreams! The effulgence on Raju’s face and His purity are Divine and they moved me.” Ramaraju said this with a smile on his face as he embraced Raju.


I buzzed away to prevent myself from getting crushed in that embrace. You know, nothing should ever come in between the Lord and the devotee - not even a fly - else it will get crushed. The Lord and the devotee are perpetually in a spiritual embrace.


Presently, the Municipal chairman turned to Seshama and said,
“I would greatly appreciate it if Raju could come with us to Bellary to spend the vacations there at our home. You too are welcome. Please do not say no to this because this is not only me who is inviting. Many others too join me in the invitation.”
With that, he gave him the invite from many ‘big’ people of Bellary - the Health Inspector, the Deputy Inspector of Schools, the Public Works engineer, some Municipal councillors and a few businessmen. I could see that Seshama could just not say no to such a big invitation. He agreed and Swami smiled at Ramaraju, granting him an Abhayahastha in blessing.


The 'ruins' at Hampi should be called the 'architectural miracles' of Hampi in my opinion because the word 'ruins'
can be very misleading! The sun-kissed monuments here are inviting to any photographer.
Photo courtesy: S. Balasubramanya (my father)
“And now, if you permit me, I shall take leave of you. I have to rush back to my town and make the necessary arrangements. A small group of other people too shall accompany you from here. We shall also take you all to the famous Hampi town.”
With that, Ramaraju left.


Wow! A trip to Hampi! This definitely was going to be exciting. My buzz had  higher pitch to it the following days in anticipation of the trip. Seshama and his wife, Susheelamma, were also excited. The group that left from Uravakonda also had in it Sri. V.C.Kondappa. I remember him particularly well because when we reached Hospet, en route to Hampi, he insisted on a photograph of Raju being taken at a studio. Swami, lovingly agreed and sat on a chair in his dhoti and half-arm shirt.

The studio photograph taken of Bhagawan Baba at Hospet
at the insistence of Kondappa.
 
Greater His-story added to Hampi


Hampi, in Karnataka, India, has been a very important place in all the different yugas. In the Kritha or Sathya yuga it is believed to have been the Pampa-kshetra, or the place which witnessed the holy wedding of Pampa Devi (a form of Mother Parvati) and Lord Shiva. In the next Treta yuga, it was the kingdom of Ksihkindha, ruled by the vanara named Sugreeva. The greatest devotee of the Lord, Hanuman, also took birth in this region in the Treta yuga. In the Dwapara yuga, Hampi was the southernmost point in the Dharmic empire of the Pandavas, which they ruled under the guidance of Lord Krishna. It is but natural that Hampi gets its share of Divine association in the Kali yuga too. That is exactly what happened when my Swami visited there.

The grandest edifice in the town of Hampi is the magnificent Virupaksha temple with its huge gopurams or ornately domed gateways. It is actually a large temple complex with three entries to be made before coming face to face with the main deity. The whole group which included the Municipal commissioner began to move towards the sanctum sanctorum when, suddenly, Swami sat down.


“Sathyam, do not get left behind. Come along”, Seshama called. The whole group stopped. For some reason, Sathyam did not seem to want to go into the temple. He clutched his stomach and between clenched teeth said that His stomach was aching badly. He wanted to rest outside. I was wondering what had suddenly happened now. Was it the food along the way? Or was it because of contaminated water that He had drunk somewhere? Whatever be the cause, Swami sat down and refused to budge.


The grand main entrance to the Virupaksha temple.
This became an apparently embarrassing situation for all. How could they go in without their main ‘guest’? Indian culture calls the guest as God. For Ramaraju, it was more than that. His God had come as his guest today! There was no way he would go in to see ‘another’ God in such a scenario. As always, it was Swami who came to the rescue,
“All of you please go in. I will be fine. I do not want you all to miss darshan because of me.”
The entire Virupaksha temple complex as seen from the neighboring hillock. There is a huge courtyard between the
main Gopuram and the temple entrance which is seen as the little central Gopuram. The third medium-sized
Gopuram is another entrance and should not be confused for the sanctum. 
Slowly, the group of about 40-50 people began to trudge into the main shrine. Ramaraju made a final attempt. He held Swami’s hands in his and entreated,
“Raju, please come in... There is no meaning of going in without you.”
I was so happy hearing this. What is a temple without the Lord? Swami however responded differently. He looked at Ramaraju and very politely but firmly said,
“No. Now you go in.”
As he joined the group, I buzzed happily around my Swami. The next moment, He was seeing me. That single look was enough to convey that He did not want even me to stay with Him this time.


That settled matters. All had to go in - me included. I was feeling bad to leave my Swami like that. But I had no idea about the miracle that I was going to witness - a miracle that would be one of the most memorable highlights of my time travel.


If you enjoyed this and are eager to know the conclusion, you should move to the next part at:

Time-travel to the days of declaration of Avatarhood of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - Part 5


For all readers:

(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Also explore the 50-odd 'previous articles' listed month-wise on the top right here. Another blog which I maintain with more than 230 articles on it is at http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com. If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Time-travel to the days of declaration of Avatarhood of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - Part 3

The Karibasavaswamy District Board High School (KDBHS) where Sathya studied for
a few months. The top image shows the front of the school while the bottom image
is of the grounds to its side. The classroom in which Sathya sat has its window close
to the lone tree seen in the image.

Second stint at Uravakonda

My ‘space-travel’ vehicle, the Toyota Innova, is now parked at the Karibasavaswami District Board High School (KDBHS) at Uravakonda. My ‘time-travel’ vehicle is parked in the summer of 1943 having travelled through the happenings at Sathya’s home immediately after the famous ‘scorpion-bite’. The next few months in 1943 need me to travel back to Puttaparthi to witness some of the most painful incidents when my Swami was subjected to great physical torture in the name of exorcising ghosts and demons from Him. For the sake of geographical convenience and continuity in the theme of Uravakonda stories, I shall skip the Puttaparthi days here. Instead, I shall fast-forward a few months to the July of 1943 when Sathya returned to Uravakonda as a little ‘Sai Baba’ having publicly declared so in the presence of His ‘father’ on the 23rd of May at Puttaparthi.

(This is the third part of a very exciting series on Swami's Avatarhood Declaration. It would be best to read this after reading the first two parts. The research for these works has mostly been borrowed from the monumental work, Love is My Form.

PART 1:

PART 2:

Thank you)


His brother, Seshamma Raju, had witnessed several miracles. Yet, he was very worried about his brother. He felt that education in the KDBHS would get Him focused back on education and career. So, he got Him admitted there for the new academic year starting on the 1st of July, 1943. This was into what was then called ‘Form 3’ or Grade VIII. Little did he know that this would be the final ‘academic’ year for Swami. As in my previous journeys, I wish to adopt the fly-on-the-wall approach by literally becoming a fly! I hope to buzz around and convey the beautiful story of my Lord to all of you. Without further ado, let me board the time-machine please...

Whirrrrr...... Swooooooooshhhhhh...... Blip...

I am now buzzing in the grounds of the KDBHS. They are huge and measure almost 1.5 times an international football ground! The imposing Uravakonda hill seems to look over the grounds like an eternal witness in a serene manner. Today however, it seemed to be excitedly craning at the grounds. There was also a loud buzz which was definitely not exuding from my wings! The buzz was the excited whisper among the students of the school who had come to know that their new schoolmate was someone who was possibly possessed by God! I was happy with this buzz. I only wished that they would move from the half-truth to the Truth, the Sathya that Sathya was (is and will be) God!

Top: Sathya's classroom as it was in those days.
Bottom: The classroom as it is today. A devotee has lovingly got a shrine made
and the classroom today has been turned into a library-cum-staff room. 

I gathered from the whispers that my Swami had won the hearts of several teachers and schoolmates. He wore the unofficial crown as the school leader. Today, that unofficial crown would be getting the official stamp as Sathya would be leading the assembly in prayer. The prayer chosen to be sung during the assembly those days at the KDBHS was one composed by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The song has a beautiful meaning and message:

Moment to moment, Thy clarion call resounds-
Hearing Thy magnanimous words,
Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, Muslims and Christians
Come from East and West to Thy throne,
Making the garland of Love.
Hail to Thee who unites all Humanity!

(The ‘prayer-song’ is actually the second stanza of a much longer song, the first stanza of which would get adopted by independent India as its National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana. The Bengali language, in which Gurudev has written this song, is peculiar in the sense that it replaces the ‘A’ sound with the ‘O’ sound and replaces the ‘V’ with the ‘B’ in relation to the parent Sanskrit language.)

My heart thrilled as I saw my Swami leading the headmaster of the school up the stage. This was just the beginning. I knew that Swami would lead millions of souls by the hand in their ascent in this stage called life. Coming on stage, Swami began to sing in the most melodious of voices. Ah! What a thrill to hear him sing. I was in tears as I stood in attention on the shoulder of one of the students in the first line of the assembly.

Aharaha Tava Aahvaana Prachaarita,
Sunisita Udaar Vaani
Hindu Bauddh Shikha Jain,
Parasik Musalman Christaani
Purav Pashchim Vasi,
Tava Simhaasana Paasi
Premavahini



A clip from Anjali Devi's tele-serial production, "Shirdi Sai Parthi Sai Divyakatha" 
which shows little Sathya leading the assembly in prayer. This teleserial was blessed
by Swami and He provided the details. The name of the school can be clearly seen. 

Thursday sessions

As in the schools before, Swami became the unofficial leader among all the students and was admired by many teachers too. He had declared in Puttaparthi a few months before that Thursday was dear to Him and He should be worshipped on that day. Apparently, many at KDBHS had taken that seriously as I found out on the first Thursday at school. All had assembled in the class after the morning assembly led by Sathya. The teacher had not yet arrived to the class and so, all were playing and talking. I buzzed towards Swami and espied a smile blossom on His lips. He seemed to be in a very benevolent mood and He looked lovingly at all His classmates. Without any warning, He raised His right hand and began to shower them with akshatha (turmeric-coated holy grains of rice). Suddenly there was a pin-drop silence of awe. The realization that it was Thursday floated across the class. The class leader, Abdul Khader walked up to Him and asked,
“From where did you get all that Rice Raju?”
Swami stretched out His right palm and pointed to it with the left index finger. An astonished look came on Abdul’s face.

Since I was behind my Lord, I wondered what was so amazing about Swami’s empty right palm. With a speed burst, I flew to the front and what I saw stunned my antennae. Very clearly outlined in the center of Swami’s right palm was the mark of a lotus in full bloom! Once again the whispered murmuring in the class was of the fact that it was a Thursday. Getting to know this, the teachers decided to let Sathya get away from classes on Thursdays after the morning hours. They gave Him the freedom to do as He pleases on His day.

That day, Swami walked out of the class and went across the grounds. I know this because I buzzed and sat on His shoulder. Was it right to do so? Is it not unholy for me, a fly to sit thus on the Avatar? My heart gave me my answer. This was the compassionate Lord who had come to uplift all. His shoulders bear the burden of the whole universe comfortably as if it was a fly. Then what to say of an actual fly? I smiled and enjoyed the ride. Swami crossed the little road and entered the residence of a gentleman who had already considered this little boy as his God. The person was the local (Salt) Excise Inspector, Anjaneyulu.

Anjaneyulu had been a staunch devotee of the Sai Baba of Shirdi and had experienced his Sai in this little Sai. Knowing that Swami had advised him to procure a statue of Shirdi Sai Baba. He had replied,
“Raju, it is impossible to get an idol of Shirdi Baba here. Nobody even knows about Baba...”
“Listen to me. Go to the Lakshminarasimha Swami temple at Pennohobilam and there you will get it.”
The Excise Inspector became an excited inspector at Pennohobilam as he was able to procure a baked clay idol of Shirdi Baba for half a rupee. 

The Shirdi Baba idol made of baked clay bought
by Anjaneyulu. It currently is in the shrine of his
youngest son, G.Sai Maruthi at Sridharagatta
near Kalyanadurg
.
Swami walked into the garden of the house and sat near a boulder there. On the boulder was a tigerskin on which was placed this idol of Shirdi Baba. He began to sing bhajans and everyone from Anjaneyulu’s house joined in. I felt sad that I could not sing in a human voice but was happy to be closest to the source of the melodious music. I looked around and saw that people were gathering in the garden in dozens. Some had walked a great distance from the main town to reach here. Among the gathered dozens were several of Swami’s teachers as well! After the bhajans, there was a Puja (worship). Swami Himself was the chief priest! I just couldn’t distinguish between who was worshipping and who was receiving the worship. The worship culminated with Aarthi which was done by waving the lighted camphor by Swami Himself.

After that, Swami went around distributing sweets as prasadam. Even as He did so, He spoke to one elderly man,
“Don’t worry. Your daughter will give birth to a healthy child.”
It was as if a huge burden lifted off the man’s shoulders. To a lady who was seated at the back, He said,
“Eat this fruit Amma. You will be totally fine by tomorrow morning.”
Sitting on His shoulders, I was thrilled at this spontaneous and instantaneous shower of grace. Dozens were now waiting to have a word with Him because they were sure that any problem could be solved if He only said it. His name was Sathya and His word too was Sathya. My Swami patiently heard to all the different problems. Sitting on His shoulder, I started feeling a bit low hearing to all these problems, difficulties and burdens. But Swami seemed to go on and on, showering grace, consoling, wiping tears and granting joy.

Needless to say, Thursday bhajans became huge gatherings very soon.

Goddumarri S.Anjanaeyulu and his wife Smt.Bhagyalakshmi - Swami picked their house as His mandir. 
Every day is a Thursday

Blessed were the children of Anjaneyulu, Narasimha Dass and Subburathnamma, for they were Swami’s schoolmates. Very often, Raju walked to Anjaneyulu’s house from His house and the three children walked together to school. Of course, I had lost all intentions of returning to my time-zone and I too joined them daily. I was eagerly waiting for the next Thursday when the world would treat Swami the way He ought to be treated every moment, every day. I saw that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Several students loved Swami deeply and they cared for nothing else but Him. They would even neglect their studies and be with their Raju every evening, singing bhajans and listening to His words of wisdom. Wow! What a divine time it was! There was no need to wait for a holy Thursday now. Any day with Swami becomes the holy Guruvar (Thursday) or the ‘day of the Guru’.

However, not everyone understood this. Many elders scolded the boys and discouraged them from keeping company with Sathya. Even Raju’s sister-in-law was one such elder. One day,she caught hold of Raju’s arm very rudely. I was shaken off it. She told him with concern and anger,
“If you don’t study well, how will you live? Your Brahmin friends can at least beg to eke a living but being a Kshatriya you will not have that option too!”
I felt so angry that I buzzed straight into her ear. She let go of Swami and slapped herself on the ear. I escaped unhurt and was happy at what I had done!

The boys were helpless but they were simply unable to let go of their love for Swami. So, they devised a plan.
“Miran, please keep guard as we do bhajans”, they requested. Miran Moinuddin, a simple Muslim boy, became a watchman for the all the sessions the boys had with Swami. In reward, Swami gave him an extra helping of prasadam which he partook with great glee. Invariably, Swami would drop a little morsel of the prasadam on the floor. That was food enough for me for the whole day. I was grateful to Him for not forgetting His little fly.

{At this point, let me step out of my fly body, out of the time-machine to mention something very relevant that happened years later. Moinuddin visited Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi, to have Baba’s darshan. As he stood waiting near a statue, Baba walked up to him and said,
“Is this not the Prasadam Bhakta (devotee who clamoured for prasadam). When did you come?” Moinuddin had no answer - only tears of joy. Ah! Now, I shall return back to my fly body.}

Anjaneyulu's house today has given way to this magnificent mandir. The bottom image shows
the bhajan hall where weekly Thursday bhajans are held today. This has been the spot
for weekly Thursday bhajans from the 1940s though the house has been replaced
with the bhajan hall. 
Thus every day became a Thursday filled with miracles galore. On one day Swami helped a Muslim horse-cart driver locate his missing mare while on another day, he named the person responsible for several thefts. He cured many people of illnesses and narrated stories from Shirdi Baba’s life. The extraordinary became part of daily routine for me and if I have to keep buzzing these stories, I will lose all track of time and my time-machine will begin beeping again. Though I have decided to fast-forward to another watershed event before The Declaration, I cannot help but narrate an amazing prediction that Swami made.

One Thursday, in the long queue waiting for an audience with Swami was B.Hanumantha Reddy, Raju’s classmate. I saw him in the line trying to attract Swami attention. But for some reason, Swami totally ignored him. He felt very upset. This was the first time I was seeing someone upset with Swami for neglecting them.He had very little patience and an even shorter fuse. In anger, he walked straight up to Swami and threw a handful of sugar and dust and walked away. Everyone was shocked and I was burning with rage.
“What a crazy lunatic!”, I thought, “as if doing this will relieve whatever problem he has!”

The headmaster of the school was present too. He was upset at this unprovoked attack on a ‘student’ by a student. As a punishment, he ordered that Reddy should not be given food in hostel.

I would later in life realize that there would be quite a number of such misguided souls who, unable to bear neglect from Swami, would walk away from Him, criticizing and cursing him. That would only make the situation into a punishment for them but would hardly affect Swami. One can only sympathize with such lost souls.
G.S.Abdul Khader during a recorded interview
on the 16th of March 1999.

I also saw Abdul Khader, the student leader plead on Reddy’s behalf to the headmaster. The headmaster would not change his mind and so, Abdul decided to seek Raju’s intervention. At precisely this time, Swami called out,
“Abdul Khader, come here.”
“Yes Raju...”
“You have come to talk about Hanumanth Reddy right? It was I who made the boy act in that manner. It is not right to punish him thus. Tell the headmaster to feed him properly.”
Abdul Khader was dumbstruck and so was I. How could He love someone who hates and maligns Him? But then, God has His own ways with critics.

In that dumbstruck trance, Abdul asked something totally unrelated to my Swami,
“Raju, when will India be freed from the British?”
As if expecting that question, Swami’s reply was immediate and firm,
“We will celebrate India’s independence on the 15th of August in 1947 - four years from now. Go back home now.”

The next day, I overheard Abdul telling his friends,
“Nobody at home believes that we will be independent in 1947. They say that a World War is on and there is no way that Britain will let go of India.”


I only smiled. How I wished I could speak! It was just the case of one hyper-excited fly buzzing in the classroom that day. It was in such circumstances that the Hampi trip materialized.

to be continued in the next part at:


For all readers:


(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Also explore the 50-odd 'previous articles' listed month-wise on the top right here. Another blog which I maintain with more than 230 articles on it is at http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com. If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".