Tuesday, 1 April 2014

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

The second Gopuram which leads to the main sanctum in the Virupaksha temple at Hampi. 
Lord Virupaksha

For those that have come in late, let me confess that it has been the most memorable ‘Life of Fly” for me in my time-machines of imagination and information. However, I cannot say the same about the journey in the space-machines, Toyota Innova and the Tata Sumo Grande, from Uravakonda to Hampi. The roads in some stretches are like fields being ploughed for an additional crop! It is advised to travel light in the stomach lest the mixer of a journey force one to throw up. Hampi is a good 4 to 4.5 hours drive from Uravakonda instead of the 3-hour one it could be if the roads are good.

The story so far has been absorbing because it has allowed us to witness those episodes in Swami’s childhood life that very few are aware of. It is thus suggested that the reader move on to this fifth and penultimate part, only having read the previous four parts.

A magnificent view of the entire sun-kissed temple complex. 
“When Swami tells you something, do it immediately!”
That is my motto because if His words are not adhered to immediately, I end up as a big loser. He, I am sure, is planning every moment of my life for me so that it is fulfilling and enriching. And so, His look was enough to send me flying into the Virupaksha temple along with the others. The main temple is very simple at first sight but one entering it, one is almost hit with the beauty of the art and architecture that adorns it. Though almost all of the idols and statues in the temple complex have been disfigured and badly damaged by the ravaging Muslim sultans who foolishly thought of destroying idolatry by breaking idols, their beauty shines through the disfigurement too.

My teeny weeny heart bled with pain as I saw the beautiful granite stone sculptures damaged. On one hand I wondered what terrible emotions hatred and anger were, knocking the senses out of a person. On the other hand, I marveled at the timelessness of beauty which shone forth even through the damaged sculptures just like sweetness exudes from a even a crushed sugarcane. Among the several architectural marvels in the temple is the ‘pinhole-camera’ image of the Gopuram the falls on one of the western walls. I was stunned to see the inverted gopuram on the wall and was equally stunned to see that the source of the image was a small hole, made precisely in the opposite wall. What scientific geniuses our ancestors were!

The inverted image of the Gopuram as it falls on a wall in the temple.
Inset: The Gopuram seen through the 2"x 3"hole which acts as a pin-hole camera substitute.
But the greatest wonder lay in the sanctum - Lord Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva. It is the Bharatiya tradition to not worship idols which are broken. That is the reason why the Muslim sultans broke and ‘desecrated’ the idols to ensure that their worship would cease. Legend goes that as they marauding hordes neared the Virupaksha shrine, a pig crossed their path. Pig is considered haraam (forbidden by Allah) by the Muslims and thus the Lord’s idol was spared - saved by a pig. I remembered the lines from a famous song - Kabhi Kabhi Bhagawan Ko Bhi Bhakton Ka Kaam Padhe - there are times when even the Lord needs help from His devotees! I also remembered how a form of Lord Vishnu, Lord Vitthala at the Vijaya Vitthala temple nearby, was saved by the devotee Pundalika from the same marauders. The idol was then installed by the saint in Pandharpur, the center for Vitthala-bhakti!

A part of the Vijaya Vitthala temple complex with its beautiful and artistic, multi-dimensional carvings.

The famous stone chariot with movable wheels which adorns the Vijaya Vitthala temple complex.
I prepared myself to see the beauty of my Swami in the Virupaksha form. Virupaksha literally translates into “malformed eye” in reference to the third-eye in the center of Lord Shiva’s forehead. As the priest waved camphor before the deity for Aarthi, I became ‘Virupaksha’ too as my eyes bulged out in disbelief. What shall I say! It was such a significant and thrilling moment. The glow of the Aarthi flame lit up not the idol of Virupaksha but the tiny frame of my Swami! There was a collective gasp as everyone saw their Raju receiving the Aarthi in place of Virupaksha! Everyone was surely stunned. However, Seshama Raju seemed enraged. He seemed to be thinking that his brother had surreptitiously entered the temple and smuggled himself into the sanctum. The fact that the priest was blissfully unaware and was going about the Aarthi ritual did not knock any sense into him. Seshama charged out of the temple. I wanted to tell him that he was being foolish, not seeing a miracle happening in front of his eyes. I too buzzed out.

The Shiva Linga which has been christened as Virupaksha. There is also a silver cast of Lord Shiva with huge eyes
which is placed atop this Linga. Thus the name. It was in it's place that the entourage saw Raju!  (Photography prohibited in the sanctum. This picture is courtesy of the priest who gave me a folded photo which I re-clicked.)
On the way, I heard Ramaraju, the Municipal Chairman say,
“See! I told you. Raju is Virupaksha and Virupaksha is Raju! There is no difference between them.”
Two others also had followed Seshama. Imagine their shock and my thrill when we saw Swami seated exactly where we had left Him, lost in thoughts! I smiled. Now Seshama would have to believe! But that was not to be so. He told his two ‘followers’ to go into the temple and see it Sathyam was in the sanctum while he himself stood watching his brother in the courtyard. Two minutes later, they came out running to report that Sathyam was still receiving Aarthi in the sanctum!

Seshama stormed towards one corner of the huge temple complex. What was he up to? I saw Swami smiling gently and curiosity made me buzz off towards His ‘elder brother’. It was a happy sight for me. In the secrecy of his assumed solitude, Seshama seemed to be rejoicing. He was smiling and almost seemed to be drinking deep from some unseen fountain of bliss. By the time we returned, the group was out of the temple and everyone was seeking blessings from Raju. We soon departed from Hampi and reached Bellary.

The golden pin

Swami’s ‘stock-price’, if I may call it so, had soared after the Hampi incident. Not for Ramaraju though. From the beginning itself he was blessed to have recognised Swami’s ‘value’. Now, he openly began to treat Swami like a Master that He is. Ramaraju introduced Him so to all his colleagues too. Many of them felt that he had gone crazy and even made fun of him as a mad man. Ah! That is the nature of the world for which a God-intoxicated man appears mad. But it is the wise who are able to realize that a world-intoxicated man is actually mad!

In sheer gratitude, Ramaraju approached Swami with a bundle in hand. Placing it in Swami’s hand, he pleaded Him to accept the offering of love. The bundle contained a shirt and a pair of shorts! Ramaraju now knelt down and called Swami close to him. Ah! Another God-devotee bonding and so I flew up. He slowly opened his clenched fist to reveal a shining, golden collar pin. Wearing a collar pin symbolised status and Ramaraju felt that this was the least he could do for his Lord.
“Please Raju”, he beseeched, “accept this and promise me that you will remember me whenever you wear it...”

It was a touching sight to see an elderly person at the little Master’s feet. Swami just smiled and accepted it. “Blessed indeed is Ramaraju”, I thought, “that the Lord chose to accept from him!” Thus it was that Swami willingly got Himself pinned! It was Seshama’s turn now to be Virupaksha as he saw his little brother adorned with a gold collar pin.

The adieu from Bellary and Ramaraju was a tearful one. He embraced Swami lovingly before the Uravakonda party boarded the bus to return. The school would begin in a couple of days and life would return to its erstwhile “normalcy” was what I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Maya leaves

It was the 19th of October when the party returned from the Hampi (humpy and bumpy too!) trip. I was happily perched on the Divine shoulder, without a care in the world. Why would I have any when He was (and is) always shouldering me? Swami got down from the bus and instead of heading home, began to walk in another direction. There was a steely determination in His eyes and everybody wondered where he was going. The entourage followed Him as He headed straight to the house of his teacher, Manchiraju Thammiraju. Commissioner Narasaraju was also in the entourage. I remember this because everyone seemed to be giving him regard and respect.

The devout teacher, Manchiraju Thammiraju with his wife, Kameswaramma.
Walking into the house, Swami went to his teacher’s wife and literally commanded her,
Ammayi, serve snacks and coffee to all these people.”
A shock came over the woman’s face and she knelt before Swami in humble submission. She showed him the pot which had coffee enough for about 6 people. The stock of snacks was also enough only for 6 people.
“Don’t worry, serve the people now”, said Swami.
“Yes! Just start doing what you are told. Swami will take care of everything”, I buzzed aloud knowing that when God gives a task, He also gives the strength to fulfill it.

The snacks and coffee remained even after all the 36 people and a solitary fly had their fill! (Thammiraju, apart from being a teacher to The Teacher, is also His staunch devotee! He had many experiences and all that he experienced on that day in 1943, he would write about in the September 1963 issue of Sanathana Sarathi.) Spending some time in His teacher’s home, Swami finally returned home.

I couldn’t sleep that night. The happenings over the past couple of days filled my being. Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realize the whole night passing. In no time, it was the morning of the 20th of October, the day when the Karibasavaswami District Board High School (KDBHS) re-opened after the vacation.  

Swami woke up early as was his wont. However, He appeared so different today. He seemed lost in some reverie. It was very silently that He got ready for school. He made it a point to put on the collar pin. It seemed to be an ‘instrument’ with which a devotee had ‘pinned’ his Lord! With His books, Swami walked towards the Excise Inspector, Anjaneyulu’s house.

Above: Sri Anjaneyulu's house is today a bhajan hall.
Below: The bhajan hall hosts weekly bhajans, every Thursday
He was joined by the children, Narasimha Dass and Subburathnamma and the trio walked together towards school. Just before they could disperse into their respective classes, Swami showed them also the collar pin. Subburathnamma said that the first class in the morning was by Seshama Raju and hurried towards her class. Curious to know how good a teacher Seshama was, I thought of going along with Subburathnamma for just a few minutes.

The teacher arrived and began to speak in flawless and poetic Telugu. It felt nice. Having satisfied myself, I decided to buzz back to my Swami.
Suddenly, Swami arrived at the classroom entrance and exclaimed,
“It is gone! It is gone!”
I looked at Him and saw that the golden collar pin was missing. It was evident that it had dropped off somewhere.
“I have lost my collar pin”, He told Seshama.
Angry at being rudely interrupted in the middle of the class, Seshama said,
“Don’t tell me anything! Go talk to your sister-in-law.”

Promptly, He walked away. I too promptly flew out to go with Him. On the way, a smile blossomed on His face and He broke into a song,
Praapanchika Sambandham Pinnai Tholagen
Kshetra Darshanamu Kooda Chellenu Hampin
Maya Tholagenani Gruhamunu Veedenu.
(The link with worldly ties has gone in the form of the pin,
The pilgrimage to Hampi has also served its purpose,
Having attained freedom from Maya, I leave home.)

He walked into His classroom and picked up His books. He looked all around one final time. “What happened Raju? Where are you going? This is your classroom...”
“The whole world is His classroom! He is the Universal Teacher!” I buzzed excitedly but who had time and ability to listen to a fly?
Swami had already gone, walking away from school. I buzzed back to Swami. He reached home and opened the door.
“How are you back so early Sathyam...” Susheelamma, the sister-in-law,  began to ask. Her question was suddenly halted with a thud. Swami had thrown all his books to the floor in a bang!
“I am no longer your Sathyam! I am Sai.” He said aloud.

A fly has compound eyes which means it cannot see as good as people. Things appear very blurry to my eyes. But I am sure, as Swami made that statement, there should have been a shower of flowers from the heavens above. Nobody seems to have seen that. Maybe, you need divine fore’sight’ to witness such things!

Susheelamma dropped her work with the grinding stone in the kitchen and came rushing out. She shrieked closing her eyes as if she was seeing some blazing light around Sathyam’s head. Swami continued to address her,
“I am going. I don’t belong to you alone. Maya has gone. My devotees are calling me. I have my Work to do and I can’t stay any longer.”
It was with a shocked expression that
Susheelamma witnessed Sathyam casting
away his books.

The scholar Narayana Shastry was blessed to be at the doorstep of Seshama’s house when this was happening. Desperately, Susheelamma enterated to the scholar,
“ Please ask him what has happened? Talk to him...”
But the scholar only fell at Swami’s feet in awe. Swami walked out and sat on a ledge outside. I buzzed behind Him. He was constantly uttering,
“Everything is Maya... Everything is Maya.”
The message must have reached the KDBHS for very soon, He was accosted by Seshama.
“What has happened to you?”
“Give up your efforts to ‘cure’ me. I am Sai. I do not consider myself related to you.”

He got up and started walking away. Seshama’s countenance underwent a change. After what he had seen at Hampi, he knew that that this was no longer his little brother but a very powerful force. He seemed to address that ‘force’ as he asked,
“How long will you remain as a boy?”
“Till Maya arrives”, Swami said and moved on. He was now heading back towards the direction of the school. On the way, He turned into Anjaneyulu’s bungalow.

The entrance to the erstwhile bungalow of Sri Anjaneyulu. Today this is a Sathya Sai Center in Uravakonda.

Enjoy the thrilling conclusion in the next part...

From Maya to Manasa Bhajare as Sri Sathya Sai declares His life mission - Part 2

In the meanwhile, you might also enjoy these other articles:

1. Evil Eye, Duradrishti or Nazar - a perspective based on an experience with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

2. An amazing experience with Sathya Sai and the Suka Nadi

3. God's love is not bound by time and space - a devotee's experience at Sri Sathya Sai Mahasamadhi

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".


  1. Dearest Brother

    Thank you for being mad for this Sai Avatar!

    Sometimes I wonder if I've lost the plot and need to tame my obsession for Swami because I can't seem to be "normal", but when I read that part above about people thinking Ramaraju had gone crazy and how you lost interest to write because you couldn't stop thinking about Him, "...sipping divine necar!" it felt nice to know that I'm not alone. Knowing about you and others who are mad for Swami encourages me to just go with it and let Him turn me into a complete nut case if it pleases Him.

    I always thoroughly enjoy your writings and look fwd to receiving them. This series has been so beautifully documented. I especially appreciate the finer details you provide which are not so well known & the pictures of these places which I have never seen. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write this (to share with us) despite losing interest coz you get so lost in Him!

    I'm so glad you decided to jump back in your time machine! Please keep taking us along with you for more time machine adventures in the future.

    Much Gratitude and Loving Sai Rams

  2. Aum Jai Sai ram
    Why you are only fortunate enough to be blessed by baba i.e taking your friendship card even there are thousands of Sai ram who were spiritual, humble e.t.c


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