Tuesday, 30 December 2014

"Who am I" - A time travel to the least understood period of Sri Sathya Sai's life_Part 3

Living in the present

“The past is history; the future is mystery. The present is a gift. That is why it is called ‘present’.”
This quote is oft used while guiding one on how to live life. However, when the history in question is His-Story, then matters become different. When the timeless One decides to encapsulate in a form within the boundaries of time, the concept of past and future dissolves because the lifetime of the Avatar is no ordinary ‘present’. It is the Omnipresent!

Buzzing away as a little fly in the longest-ever time travel so far, I began to feel weak. I had been in Puttaparthi of the the early 1940’s for almost 3 weeks now and I realized that my lifespan was nearing an end. A normal housefly lives for only about 30 days. It was the 23rd of May and I knew that I had just about a week longer before I would have to return. It was also my sister’s birthday! Oh my God! I would not be able to wish her... But then, I realized, she was probably in her previous life now.

I still had not got the answer to the question, “Who is He?” That was the question in the minds of everyone in Puttaparthi too, I realized.

{This is the final and concluding part of an exciting journey back into time. It is recommended that the reader goes ahead having completed the first two parts at:

Ever since the erudite lawyer, P.T.Krishnamachari, had left Puttaparthi, shocked and possibly wiser, the family seemed to be at its wits’ end. Swami seemed to have lost the violent streak. Thus, He had been freed from His solitary isolation. He had been brought back home and now, He was having alternating ‘bouts’ of trance and poetry recitation. I just wished that my Telugu comprehension was better so I could understand what He was saying. I resolved to return to this time-period for a second time after mastering Telugu!  

Photo Credit: The book Love is My Form

The climactic moment took place in an unexpected manner. It happened when Swami was ‘acting normal’ on the aforesaid 23rd of May. He had just walked out of the house. He stopped a passer-by and said,
“Don’t worry about your wife’s health. She will get better.”

Saying so, He waved His little palm and manifested a guava. The lucky recipient was amazed at what had just happened. Swami now turned and beckoned the members of his household. The wave of the hand repeated but this time, it was flowers and sugar candy! So lost were they in wonder and awe that they didn’t try to swat or shoo me away as I too partook that Divine sweet. In curiosity, the neighbours began to file out of their houses and gather. Swami now materialized balls of rice cooked in milk and sweetened with sugar! He looked so happy. It was evident that He derived great joy in giving. Whenever He gave, a broad smile blossomed on His little lips. That joy was infectious too and everyone seemed so happy.

It all happened so suddenly. As Swami was entrancing the people who had gathered around Him, the father Pedda Venkama Raju, came out of the house. He looked at the crowd that was surrounding his little son and got very irritated. I knew the reason for his irritation.

While the happenings of the past few days had got on to his nerves, he had reached breaking point yesterday. As Sathyam defiantly answered the scholar Krishnamoorthy, a lot of people in the village began to talk about the audacity of this chit of a boy! The father himself had great regard for the first-ever teacher of his son.
"Whatever be the situation, Sathyam should not have spoken so disrespectfully to a wise elder,"  the elder brother, Seshama had told him that day.
"But whatever he told him actually silenced and overwhelmed him, don't forget that." was the mother's reminder.

After that, since the angry and violent streak in Sathyam had disappeared, Pedda Venkama Raju seemed to have forgotten about the insult to the scholar he revered. This new behavior of materialising things from thin air seemed to open up the volcano of his suppressed fury and confusion. He went back into the house and when he came out again in a few minutes, he had a stick in hand.

"Who are you?

By the speed at which the father approached us, I knew that something was bound to happen today.
"Hey you there! Stop this stupid drama. Are you God or a ghost or a madcap? Are you Narasimha or Nayarayan? Tell me right now who you are... We have had enough of this nonsense..."
Though I was shocked at the suddenness of the question, I knew that it was something totally expected. I also wanted to know the answer to that question though I would not have worded it in that exact manner.

The father was an epitome of anger as he approached his miracle-performing son...
All of us looked at Swami with bated breath. The angry father stood shivering in rage with the stick quivering in his hand.
"I am Sai Baba."
"So? You might be Sai Baba or Hai Baba, I don't care. Just leave my son alone..."
He thought that some spirit possessing his son was speaking with him.
In all sweetness and composure, Swami said,
"No! I am Sai Baba. I belong to the Apastambha Sutra; I am of the Bharadwaja Gotra. I came because your Venkavadootha and other saints requested me to do so."

Plonk! The stick slipped out of the father's hand. He was too stunned to realize the import of what he was hearing. Everyone was now looking at him. He had come to decisively get an answer to the mystery of his ‘crazy son’ but he was unable to handle this moment of Truth. He was almost stammering now,
“What... what should we do then?”
Swami patted him gently on his back and continued promptly,
“Worship me! On every Guruvar (Thursday or the Day of the Guru). Keep your minds and homes pure. I shall bless you and remove all that troubles you.”

There was a stunned silence after that. The father was looking so subdued. I could feel his genuine bewilderment mixed with awe. His earlier anger too was out of concern for his son. I flew and prostrated at the feet of the blessed father who, on behalf of all humanity, had asked the Question - Who are you - that was in everyone’s mind. Smiling, Swami walked away, back into the house, leaving them to absorb what had just happened. I rose from the father’s feet and buzzed back to my Lord.

Sai Baba

I am sure that nobody in the village had ever heard the name of the fakir-incarnation who had appeared in Shirdi in the later half of the 19th century. It had been a priest at a local Khandoba (a form of Lord Krishna) temple, Mahalasapathy, who had first addressed the fakir as “Sai Baba”. In the Marathi language, Sa-Aai-Baba meant one who is both the mother and father.

Being a fly, I couldn’t get goosebumps but thrill coursed through my being as I realized another ‘declaration’ that Swami had made - a subtle one - when He said that He was Sai Baba. Though God is One, He/She/It takes up different forms and names. The Sri Sathya Sai Avatar would be a Shiva-Shakti combine, encapsulating both - the Divine Father Shiva and the Divine Mother Amba. ‘Sa-Aai-Baba’ was another way of declaring that He is ‘Sa-Amba-Shiva’!  

Inside the house, it was an overwhelmed Kondama Raju, the grandfather who shed light on the mystery of Venkavadootha. He was the family preceptor, also belonging to the same family. This ancestral sage had appeared in the grandfather’s dream and stated emphatically that God would be taking birth as his grandchild!
“Child,” he said gently patting his daughter-in-law’s head, “that is why I had changed your name from Namagiriamma to Easwaramma after your wedlock with my son - because you would be mothering God! Our Sathyam is no ordinary boy. He is God.”

Nobody spoke a word against the grandsire of the family. However, I could see that not everyone was convinced of what he said.

A few days later, the foster son, Karnam Gopal Rao, of the village Karnam - the Government clerk who was the husband of Karnam Subamma) - came excitedly to the Raju household.
“I am coming from Penukonda and I bring some good tidings. I happened to meet the Sub-Registrar there and he happens to be a devotee of a certain Sai Baba! I am sure that Kesavaiya would be able to help us in diagnosing what has happened to Raju...”
In a village where ‘Sai Baba’ was a term as alien as ‘Martian’, this piece of news was like manna from the heavens. The parents immediately accepted the idea of travelling to Penukonda to meet the Sub-Registrar.
“Thursday is the day when this Muslim Sai Baba speaks through Sathyam. So let us go to Penukonda on the coming Thursday,” suggested the father.

I could see that my Swami was smiling. He had revealed His identity but nobody seemed to be ready to accept it. Without a protest He allowed Himself to be taken to Penukonda. It was a long journey and soon, we were in the presence of the Sub-Registrar.

The house of the Sub-Registrar, Kesavaiya, at Penukonda.
“This is not my Shirdi Swami! He claims to be Sai Baba because, clearly, it is a case of lunacy.” He pronounced his judgement.
“Ay Kesavaiya”, Swami thundered, “it is indeed a case of lunacy, but whose? You Poojari (priest or worshipper) are unable to recognise the very same Sai whom you adore?”
The Sub-Registrar was visibly shaken by the ‘audacious verbal assault’. In keeping with his faith, he went in and fetched some Udi (the vibhuti which Shirdi Sai Baba gave - firewood ash). Every Thursday, there would be a bhajan session at his home and Kesavaiya would offer Udi to all who had gathered at home. So, he offered this Udi to Swami too and said that He would get better on taking it. Swami took the Udi and flung it back forcefully at Kesavaiya’a face! Such was the force with which He threw that I, who was sitting on His forearm, got thrown away too!

Swami did not stop at that. He took handfuls of vibhuti from nowhere and threw it all around. The whole atmosphere became cloudy for a few moments and Kesavaiya was in a state of shock. He went to the parents and said,
“Buy a clay idol of Shirdi Sai and install it. Sing bhajans and pray to Him. He alone can help your son.”

A flowery declaration

There was another twist of uncertainty once the idol of Shirdi Baba was brought home. Swami seemed to become an epitome of all politeness, sweetness and serenity! He also seemed determined on being congenial and cooperative. He allowed both his mothers - Easwaramma and Subamma - to feed him all delicacies as their hearts desired. Ah! This was an uncertainty that I was loving.
“Swami, if your uncertainty is going to be like this, I will surely love it,” I told Him. He just smiled.

My lifespan was coming to an end now. I sought Swami’s permission to leave.
“Dear Swami. I am so grateful to you for this opportunity. I now seek your blessings to travel back before I die...”
“You will not die... Stay for another day and then leave immediately,” Swami replied.
I know that even when Swami speaks in jest, it is not without reason. I decided to stay on for another die.

The next day, a couple of people arrived from Penukonda. They came to Swami’s house and insisted that they wanted to see Him.
“We heard what happened last Thursday at Kesavaiya sir’s place. We have come to see that crazy little boy...”
Swami had walked to them already. Easwaramma, the mother, rushed to summon the men of the house to deal with these men from Penukonda.
It was just the little Swami, all alone with the men. They walked out of the house and Swami sat on a little rock.
“Listen, we know who you are... You are just a chit of a boy, the son of Venkama and Easwaramma... So you better not claim that you are Sai Baba!”
Swami smiled and said nothing. This irked them.
“You arrogant boy! If you are the Sai Baba that the Sub-Registrar worships, give us some proof.”

I wondered if this was the reason Swami had wanted me to stay behind for another day. Even as that demand was made, the mother came on the scene. Swami said,
“I will give you the proof you need.” He then turned to the mother and asked,
Ammayi (little girl), get me some jasmine flowers immediately.”
I knew that something amazing was going to happen. I waited with bated breath as the mother fetched lots of jasmine flowers and thrust them into her son’s hands. A few other villagers also gathered around now.

The flowers formed the words "I am Sai Baba" in neat Telugu script. 
In one graceful move, Swami threw all the jasmine flowers up in the air. There was not even a hint of a breeze that day. As the flowers landed on the ground, there was a collective gasp. For, in beautiful Telugu script, the flowers had formed themselves into the words - Nenu Sai Baba (I am Sai Baba)!

“There, that is who I am,” He said with a smile and continued, “Now, you can leave immediately...”

The men stood transfixed. They realized that a miracle had just taken place before their eyes.
“Now, you can leave”, Swami repeated.
I realized that He was speaking to me! In the joy that my spirit was experiencing, I had forgotten that my body was getting weaker by the hour. I rushed back to my time machine, having prostrated at His Lotus Feet.

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

And I was back! It had been the longest ever time travel I had undertaken. And it had been totally worth every moment. It was a journey in which I learned who Swami is after learning that He is not the body or the mind.

If you are keen to know what happened next, a 4-part article already awaits you at:

Time travel to the days of declaration of Avatarhood of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

If you have enjoyed this, you definitely must proceed along other time travels too:

1. A time travel to the Uravakonda Days and the Grand Declaration

2. A most-memorable journey in a time-machine - the first one for me.

For all readers:

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I wish I could transform myself to any life form and always be hovering around swami's lotus feet..experiencing amazing events that i missed witnessing in person. Human form is many times a bane than a boon ..
    Thanks for this wonderful article.

  3. Sairam Aravind...what a way to end 2014 and eagerly wait for more episodes of Time Machine Travel in 2015. A parallel comes to my mind that is one of the first few poems In Bhagavatam by Potana, in the same way It is His Story being narrated by HIMSELF through you as HIS instrument, why should you write anything else. Thanks a lot for all your writings. Best wishes and Love.

  4. this was written on my Birthday- wow- and the fly has now buzzed off- delightful way of inseting what you know and feel and letting us fly with you
    Thank you

    1. Wow Granny! I am also thrilled by this beautiful coincidence! It is His leela no doubt. :)

      Belated birthday wishes to you....

  5. Wow... beautiful brother... excellent writing and the scenes were just flashing in front of my eyes... god bless you brother... loads and loads of love...


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