Friday, 11 November 2016

Sai's Geeta - the extraordinary tale of an elephant that rose to the level of God

Sai Geeta's relationship with Bhagawan was beyond that of the love
between a pet and the master.
The Extra Sensory Perception of an elephant

It was life as usual in the Sri Sathya Sai Senior Boys’ Hostel, one fine day in the early 1990s. As the students were getting ready to go to college for the noon session, they heard ‘the alarm’. It was the trumpeting of Sai Geeta, the pet elephant of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who was residing in a huge vaulted roofed enclosure right in front of the Senior Boys’ Hostel. The excited trumpeting could only mean one thing - their Swami was headed that way!

As they rushed out of the hostel, they saw Geeta rushing towards the gate and had it not been for her caretaker, she would have crushed it. She was out on the road even before the boys lined up. She seemed unduly excited that day, making it difficult for her mahout to hold her in check. Swami’s car approached and Sai Geetha moved forward. Instead of raising her trunk in her customary salute, she rested it heavily on the bonnet of the car, effectively blocking its progress.

The glass window beside Swami slid down noiselessly and before anyone could crowd around, her trunk slickly slid off the bonnet into the window and ever so gently touched Swami’s cheek and hair. Swami stepped out of the car and immediately the flapping ears stilled to a gentle wave. She undulated backward as Swami moved towards her, murmuring endearments while her trunk reached to caress His feet. He touched her and the ones closest could see a ripple run across her huge frame as she rejoiced at the blessing.

“Come on Geetha, I have to go,” He said, patting her trunk.
She protested softly and her trunk rose to lie on the bonnet again. It was a very loud “No!”
“I want to go Geetha, come on, come on, move,” said Swami, reaching up to stroke her cheek. And suddenly a diamond glistened, a dew drop that was the coalescence of her love for Him, a silent expression of her feelings: a tear found its way down the very cheek upon which His hand rested.

“Okay, okay, I will not go!” said Swami sympathetically.
Immediately the ears moved a whisker. She had not stirred an inch. Perhaps she did not want to break the contact.
“Will you go back if I return to the ashram?” asked Swami.
She stepped back a fraction – but only a fraction - her trunk still lay on the bonnet.
“Okay, okay, I will not go, I am going back to the ashram. Are you happy?” He asked her.
She visibly trembled with joy and replied in her own language in the affirmative. He, of course, understood.

“Good girl, good girl,” said Swami. Then turning to all the students gathered there, He announced,
“I had planned to go to Brindavan (Bangalore ashram) today. She knew it, she sensed it. She somehow figured out Swami was leaving and she was crying, Paapam (poor thing)!”

The students stood dumbstruck as Swami got into the car and drove back. They always knew that Sai Geeta would be the first to detect the sound of Swami’s car. They credited it to her better animal-hearing. But how were they to explain Sai Geeta’s awareness of Swami’s intentions? That was certainly not animal instinct or human ability. It was something super-human!

It is said that there is Truth in every word of the Master and Righteousness in His every act. Looking back at the life of Bhagawan Baba and Sai Geeta, one realizes that there was a purpose for Sai Geeta. She truly embodies Sai’s Geeta or Swami’s message to the world. And it shall be my endeavour to humbly place before you that message through the relationship between Sai and Geeta.

Sri Sathya Sai’s Geeta

The word “Geeta” in Sanskrit translates into English as the “song celestial”. It is supposed to the ultimate message of Lord Krishna, the essence of all the Upanishads. What is Swami's “song celestial”?

He has given it several times in different ways. The most straightforward manner in which He delivered His Geeta in a matter of minutes was when He was bluntly asked,
“Are you God?”
The reply was equally blunt but very poignant.

Swami saw the inherent Divinity in all living beings.
It is a different story that the critics and some media latch on only to the first statement and consider Baba to be ‘arrogant’. There is a difference between being arrogant and simply stating the Truth. It would be akin to calling Copernicus arrogant because he stated that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way round. He actually hesitated to publish his work to avoid risking the scorn "to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses”. But when he finally published it, he stated the truth as plainly as he saw it - in spite of all that people thought of him.

Baba says, “My life is my message”. His message is that everything and everyone is Divine. His life was all about living that message. Sai Geeta was a prop to exhibit to the world Sai’s song celestial. She was an example of how an animal could evolve into a being better than humans and get revered like God! (Reminds one of another such animal, the monkey, which is today revered as Hanuman).

One day, when Swami came out of His Brindavan residence, He remarked pointing to the boys on one side and the
deer on the other, "These are four-legged deer and these are two-legged dear!"

It was on a trip along with few devotees to the Mudumalai forest in 1962 that Swami first noticed the tender and tiny toy of joy that Sai Geetha was then. His love and affection for this infant elephant that had lost her mother immediately after her birth, was phenomenal. When the forest officers offered the elephant calf to Swami, He gladly accepted. Soon arrangements were made and the little lady arrived in Puttaparthi in an airy and comfy vehicle escorted by four volunteers. And since then, the motherless child never missed her parents. Swami treated her as part of Himself - not as an elephant with a soul but as a soul that had donned the form of an elephant. That made all the difference.

Geeta came to Swami as a calf.
Geeta’s response to Divine love

The three-foot high calf followed Swami everywhere - during Darshans, during bhajans and even into the interview room. When she grew larger, Swami instructed an ashram officer to erect a shed for her on the northern end of the Mandir facing Bhagawan’s residence. Her small enclosure was airy, had a drinking well beside it, but faced the East, which meant Sai Geetha could not see Swami during Darshan. Sai Geetha was so upset with the orientation of her new shed that one day, she brought the whole tin-and-concrete structure down with her massive trunk and sheer muscle power. The officer was, of course, later reprimanded for ineffectively executing Swami’s command and Sai Geetha, in no time, had a new room which faced the South. The happy elephant could now see Swami uninterruptedly directly from her home.

One may say that this is true of any pet’s love for it’s master. That is true and that shows that animals too are capable of loving intensely like human beings. But Sai Geeta’s love was different. And it was different because the love she received from her Swami was different from the worldly love which gives complete importance to the body and mind, neglecting the Atma/soul. This can be understood from another phenomenal incident.

Certain devotees mentioned to Swami that Sai Geeta had reached maturity and that she should be sent to the forest for a short while for breeding. Swami was not convinced about the proposal but He gave in, thanks to the dogged persuasion of senior members of the ashram. And so it happened that the reluctant Sai Geeta was sent to the forest along with two caretakers, Vasant Rao and Sathyanarayana.
“It was a thirteen-day journey by walking with sufficient periods of rest on the way at various locations,” recollects Sathyanarayana.

Sai Geetha was least interested in any elephant of the jungle; she would never go near the elephants of the wild, let alone to find a companion. Two baby calves were pressed into service to kindle in her the desire for offspring. She would allow the small ones to be with her as long as the mahouts were around but once they were out of sight, she would disinterestedly drive the calves away.

Now, Swami visited the Mudumalai forest, totally unanticipated. The forest had a canal and Swami’s car stopped at the left bank while Sai Geeta and the mahouts were on the right bank. Geeta acted as if possessed by a gigantic force. Without a second thought, she jumped into the canal and started swimming vigorously. Concerned about her, the mahouts too jumped and tried to catch hold of her ears or neck, but nothing could stop her that day. Swami immediately opened the door and Sai Geeta was in bliss as Swami fondled her, patted her and spoke to her with utmost love and concern. There were bags of fruits for her in the car and Swami lovingly put a few apples in her mouth. Blessing her thus, Swami returned.

Geeta became miserable after this. It was as if she was dropped from heaven into hell in an instant. She spat out all the fruits and started crying loudly. She was inconsolable. Dejected to the hilt, she went on grumbling; and from then on her ‘night escapades’ became more frequent where she would simply start running in the direction of Puttaparthi! After a month of efforts in vain, the mahouts returned with Geeta to Puttaparthi. That was when a veterinary doctor was called. Upon testing the urine of Sai Geetha, he pronounced,
“She is pregnant.”

Sai Geeta never 'mixed' with the world. Thus, she became
Sai's Gita - His Message. 
The news that Sai Geetha is going to deliver a baby spread like wildfire in Puttaparthi. The doctor who had come from Kerala stayed with her in the shed to attend to any eventuality. In no time, a fence rose around her living area to give her ‘needed privacy’ and everyone was now more than convinced that Sai Geetha was going to be a mother. Not only this, even Swami used to visit her often and enquire about her with the doctor. On one occasion, it is said He even pointed to Sai Geeta’s belly and said mischievously to Prof. Kasturi (the great multi-lingual scholar who christened All India Radio as Akashavani also served as the biographer of the Sathya Sai Avatar),
“Kasturi, can you see the baby moving in her stomach?”

Weeks turned to months and at the end of a year, the bubble burst and the doctor did a complete U-turn to say, “She is not pregnant.”
Swami emphatically declared to the devotees around,
“Sai Geeta is a Shuddha Brahmacharini (pristine and perfect celibate). She has come for me. She has never and will never mix with anything of the world, let alone an elephant!”

Points to ponder

Is an animal capable of ‘devotion’ to God? Is it capable of consciously sacrificing it’s instincts and choosing something higher? In other words does it possess ‘discrimination’ that only humans are supposed to be endowed with?

Let us go back to Sai’s Geeta,
“I am God. And if you enquire deeply within, you will realize that you are God too.”
This is the Truth whether we believe it or not just like Copernican heliocentric theory was the Truth even when the whole world jeered at him. Swami demonstrated that all it needs is the conviction that everything is Divine. His conviction rubbed on to others - even animals. And Sai Geeta’s life is just one among the many animal pets of Swami that displayed human emotions and super-human, divine traits.

In fact, there are many experiences narrated by several devotees of how Geeta solved their problems, worked miracles for them and blessed them with bounty. If you are unaware of whom they are speaking of, you might confuse Geeta to be a saint or goddess! Even today, people visit Geeta’s Samadhi (mausoleum) and offer prostrations.

Sai lived in the world but was not of the world. He was not bound by attachments of any kind. He did not attend any funerals - except one. That exception was Sai Geeta! When we attend a funeral, we do so because we feel that someone who belongs to us is gone - a part of us is gone.

Sai Geeta became a part of Sai. An elephant attained divinity in Kali Yuga just as a monkey did in Treta Yuga. Both could do so because their Swami chose to see them as part of Himself.

How do we begin this journey of seeing God in all and everything? That is a point to ponder.


This article first appeared in the November-2016 edition of the animal conservation magazine - Hyderabad PAWS. 

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  1. Absolutely beautiful. She is an exemplar of one pointed devotion.

  2. Thank U so much for sharing this very moving & most wonderfull story of Sai Geeta & His Divine relation with Swami. It has uplifted my Soul into highest frequencies of Love & Light, so needed in these endtimes of the Kali Yuga. May All the Beings in All the Worlds Be Happy as I AM. May the Golden Age of Love & Peace in Unity & an Abundance of Joy & Prosperity for All, start With UMeWeAll Daring to Be Participants in Bringing Heaven Back to Earth, as Cocreator Gods & Goddesses. Shared with So much Love & Gratitude. I AM. Om Sai Ram. Om Shanti. AUM

    1. So many beautiful thoughts and feelings there... With more people feeling like this, peace and love are bound to spread...

      Thank you for the comment. Sairam

    2. The love of all life is alive in this story I thank you for all the love you share and show through your life's work Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba many blessings and love Namaste

    3. I am gratefull for your reply, Beloved Aravind Balasubramanya. Love All, Serve All,Help ever & Hurt never for Universal Love & Peace is our Swami`s command. Lets make it come true ! We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.I Am. Om Sai Ram. Om Shanti. AUM

  3. Sairam, the phrase 'not as an elephant with a soul but as a soul that had donned the form of an elephant'is amazing .Quite a commendable write up.

  4. Sairam Aravind thanks for beautiful article on Sai's Geeta. As you stated at the end "How do we begin this journey of seeing GOD in all and everything?", first step is taken by SWAMI by bringing us into HIS fold - without that we would not have had HIS darshan sparshan and sambhasan - and we are in HIS fold that is HIS grace and love for us. But we slip into maya of this world every moment of of our lives and easily get strayed from our sadhana to see the soul / divinity within us and around us.Fault lies in us for getting carried away getting attached to people / things even after knowing that all this is transitory. Need to concentrate on namasmarana at all times like breathing in and breathing out even when we are sleeping. Food for thought.

  5. Nava vidha Bhakti to full saturation she had, she is guru role model for eternity

  6. Loved it Aravind but I'm not sure about 'the rising to the level of God' part. Swami said that we could only achieve that through human birth. I do believe that Sai Geeta was very special and she was born to spend her lifetime with Him.Maybe a Sage? loving regards, Chandan auntie

    1. I'll answer you with a question. What about Hanuman? He is a monkey but isn't he considered God?

      When I say 'rise to level of God' I don't know whether she achieved the ultimate but in our eyes, she is considered divine.

  7. Every time I read or hear about Sai Geetha and her undiluted devotion I am just in tears... Also it takes back to my memory lane where I had the opportunity to have close proximity with Sai Geetha during my service in Parthi... Thank you brother for kindling those wonderful moments....

  8. Thank you Bro.Aravindji,it is indeed pleasure in reading such a wonderful story about our beloved saigeetha,the ever loving pet animal of Baba. I even hesitate to call saigeetha as an animal.Saigeetha who had attained her goal and merged with beloved Swami by taking the birth in the form of an Elephant.The soul is one and the same in ant to elephant, the human and all creatures in the world. It is the one pointedness of bakthi and love towards her Master made her to attain the highest level of realization.

  9. Please let me know how can i get connected with owner of the elephant.

    1. Pedda Reddy sir works silently in the canteen and lives a humble life by the planetarium. I don't know if he even carries a mobile phone. You have to come to Puttaparthi to connect with him I guess.

    2. Please give me some ones contact number who carries mobile phone and lives near him.
      And do you have any other persons in contact who have elephant ? if yes please let me know his contact details.
      Thanks a lot for your effort.

    3. When you visit Puttaparthi, please enquire about Sri Pedda Reddy from the PRO office. You will be helped to locate him. Sairam


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