Tuesday, 23 December 2014

"Who am I" - A time travel to the least understood period of Sri Sathya Sai's life_Part 1

The reason behind visiting a painful past

The beautiful and handsome - Bala Sai. (Both adjectives are apt for, after all,
is He not the Shiva-Shakti?) 
I have always loved the concept of travelling back in time. The reason for that, I feel, is that we are able to look back at events that have happened with the wisdom that we have retrospectively gained in the present! What might have seemed like a great tragedy in the past has great lessons for us in the future. At the same time, what seemed like a great blessing in the past, could turn out to be a tragedy in the future. That is why, visiting the past with retrospective wisdom is indeed a wonderful thing.

Today, if someone were to ask me as to which point in time in the 20th century I would like to travel back to, I would choose that point in time during which the second world war happened. It might seem like a crazy thing. But, the second world war can be considered as a watershed of sorts in the history of mankind. The second World War in general, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in particular, made the world and realise the futility and grave danger that a world war posed to entire humanity. That is what led to the formation of the United Nations organisation and lead to a strong resolve among the leaders of all countries that they would never indulge in a war like that again. More then five decades after that world war, humanity seems to have forgotten the lessons of that war. Little pockets of violence and war have erupted all around the globe. That is why, do a painful, it would be a good idea to travel back in time to witness the Second World War. When the wisdom of the past pain is forgotten, one might have to revisit that pain in order to gain the lost wisdom. Witnessing that war again, the wisdom about the futility of war and the importance of peace is sure to dawn upon all of us.

Often the wisdom of peace is actually gifted by the horrors of a war
When it comes to the life of my Lord, my master, my best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba too, I make use of the same logic. If given the choice of turning the dials on the Time Machine to revisit his story, I would choose the same years as those of the second world war- the early 1940s. These were probably the most painful times of the avatar's life. A little reminder here-when I say painful, it is not necessarily painful for the avatar, but it is definitely painful for the devotee. However, it becomes necessary to revisit that painful period, because as devotees we seem to have forgotten the great lessons and insights that our Swami give us through that episode. With that warning I now turn the dials of my time machine as I transform myself into a little fly at Puttaparthi. I have chosen to be a fly in keeping with the fly-on-the-wall approach that I would wish to adopt in narrating the happenings that I witness in the past.The dial shows the March of 1943 and here I go.

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

Decision to meet a miracle-worker

Having witnessed the fascinating sequence of events at Uravakonda, (if you have come here directly, you should read that part here:

I was eager to see how much longer will the world remain blind to the reality of my Lord. It was late in the evening and, at a distance, I saw a bullock cart trudging it's way back to the village. The occupants of the cart seemed very concerned and sad. I buzzed up to the cart and, in an instant, I knew the cause for their sorrow. Surrounded by the peering faces was the serene and absolutely still frame of little Sathyam, my dear Swami. Oh my god! Had He still not ‘recovered’?

I have often wondered what happens if we exclaim ‘Oh my god’ when God Himself seems to be in need of assistance, but then I am digressing.

The bullock cart halted at the tiny shanty which was the residence that the Avatar had chosen to inhabit in childhood. The ‘father’ and ‘brother’ carried my Swami into the house from the bullock cart. I buzzed hard near the teenaged Swami’s ears but there was no response. Why is it that it seems like God does not hear you when you desperately want Him to? Everyone made efforts to revive Him and their persistence seemed to pay off - their Sathyam finally sat up. His eyes had a strange gleam and He seemed to take over from where He had left off at Uravakonda. Exuding Telugu poetry of the highest class, He began to refer to the whole world as being crazy.

Moppoor Appayyaswamy, the herbal doctor and witch doctor
combo with great reputation. 
That was when my ears first heard the name of Moppoor Appayyaswamy. At that time, I did not have the slightest idea that this would become a name that would ignite great anger and pain in me in the future. His name was uttered in hushed tones. Apparently, he was some sort of a miracle-worker, a combination of a herbal doctor and a witch doctor.
“On his way to a court, he had been attacked by five hefty people”, said someone, “but he beat them all up single-handedly!”
“That is nothing,” said another seeking higher bragging rights, “on another occasion, he had to appear for a trial in a court 58 kilometers away. He just walked a few steps and disappeared from sight. Within an hour he was already in court!”
In the times when there were no buses, this was a significant achievement. But why was this court-going, super-strong and fleet-footed Appayyaswamy being discussed? I had no idea and I just settled down on the shoulder of my dear Swami who was now wide awake.

“It is time to show the world who I am,” Swami whispered to Himself and smiled. But wait! Was He whispering to Himself or speaking with me? I did not know. I asked Him nevertheless,
“Who are you?”
He didn’t seem to hear me and continued speaking softly. Maybe He was speaking to Himself.
“To understand who I am, they will have to know who I am not!”
“But who are you not??”
He was just silent after that. The family members had come near now. Their discussion was still on,
“... and he leads such an austere life! No wonder that he has managed to completely cure almost seven completely insane people.”
“He will surely help to cure our Sathyam...”
With the reassuring thought, the whole household seemed to sleep peacefully that night. Mother Easwaramma and sister Venkamma were the only ones that did not seem to be able to sleep. And, of course, I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t travel all this way into time to sleep! In nervous and hushed tones the mother and sister were speaking to each other. They were really very worried about their Sathyam.
“Don’t worry, Swami is God”, I tried to say reassuringly. I don’t think they understood what I was saying.

The google-map route from Puttaparthi to Kadiri Brahmanapalli which was taken.

An unforgettable visit

The next morning, the mother, father, brother, sister Venkamma (who seemed to have decided never to let go of her Sathyam’s side), two other relatives and uncle Chandramouli got into a bullock cart with Sathyam and started off on what would be an arduous and long journey. Uncle Chandramouli chauffeured the two-bullock-cart. It was necessary to yoke a second bullock for the extra horsepower needed for the 70km journey via Bukkapatnam and Muddigubba. In spite of three stops for rest along the way, the journey took the whole day. What more could one expect from a bullock cart with its average speed of about 5 km/h? It was nearly in the middle of the night when we reached Veerajinnaiahgaripalli, a hamlet adjacent to the village Kadiri Brahmanapalli. A small shed near the exorcist’s home was given as the resting place for the night. Swami had barely spoken anything

Early in the morning, the family took little Satyam and surrendered Him to the exorcist. As the man walked in, I almost fainted. He was a gigantic figure, terrible to behold, with blood-red eyes and untamed manners.
“All of you, get out,” he thundered. The family scurried out. I decided to hover around and stay put. That was when I witnessed the most painful scenes ever.
Little Sathya sits smiling through the tonsuring.

The giant picked up and chicken and slit its throat with one slice of a carving knife. He drew a circle of blood on the floor. And then, he brutally chopped a lamb’s neck and made bold the outlines of the first circle with its blood. Looking at Swami, he said,
“Sit in that circle right now.”
“Don’t Swami”, I buzzed aloud.
A smile came on His face as He simply got up and sit in the middle of the circle of blood. A barber was now summoned and as Moppoor Appayyaswamy started his incantations. The barber cruelly shaved away Swami’s head. My heart cried out as His beautiful locks hit the ground. Mother Earth seemed to rise momentarily to receive those Divine Locks in her bosom. She would treasure their sanctifying touch forever!

Once the hour-long chanting was complete, an assistant accompanied Swami to a nearby perennial water well - Bhogga. I buzzed along too, sitting on His shoulder. However, I could not rest there for long because I was almost drowned in a splash of ice-cold water! As I flew up in shock, I saw pot after pot of chilling water being poured on the shaved head of my beloved Lord! It was horrifying to say the least. I buzzed in strong protest but it was of no use. On the other hand, Swami sat silent as 108 pots of cold water were poured on His head. In this moment of grief and pain, I forgot that this was nothing for the Lord (Shiva) who had held the icy Ganges in His Locks! But now, my heart protested, He did not enjoy the security of His locks too!

The Bhogga well exists even to this day - a painful reminder of Sathya's reality.

108 pots of icy cold water being poured on Swami. I am seen  buzzing as a little
dot on the 12th step!
This was just the beginning of the torture. Swami was led back to the circle of blood where the demonic Appayyaswamy arrived with a sharp scalpel. He scored three deep ‘X’ marks on the tender scalp, from the top towards the forehead. Then, he mixed chilli powder, pepper powder, lemon juice and garlic into a thick paste. This he poured and smeared over those gory ‘X’ marks! I was crying now. I could feel my heart beating like crazy. But what could I do? I was helpless. Normally, in such situations, I cry out, “Swami, do something.” But now, Swami was Himself sitting so silent with a smile on His face.
“Does He not feel anything?” I began to wonder.

As this terrible torture was on, a couple of assistants had begun digging a pit nearby. The pit was filled up with buffalo dung and boiled neem leaves. Appayyaswamy now went to the pit and added several herbs into it. What was this boiling cauldron for?

The little boy was now dispassionately led to this pit and made to enter it. He was buried neck-deep in that disgusting slush and made to stand like that for an hour and a half. Being a fly, I often hover over dung. But this pit was a bit too much for me too! I just continued crying for my Swami. He would not be able to relax His leg even the tiniest bit else His nose would be under that horrible slush.

In the meanwhile, the mother and sister arrived. They were were worried and wanted to see what was happening. Swami was now given a bath and covered with several blankets to make him sweat. Easwaramma wailed out.
“Please be careful... Sathyam will be feeling very hot...”
“You have not seen what they did to your little darling,” I screamed in agony, “you must stop this...”

The ogre now heated a thin iron rod to redness and callously branded Swami on His hands and feet. Easwaramma and Venkamma winced in pain but Swami did not move even the tiniest bit. I desperately hoped that Swami would cry because his passive tolerance seemed to infuriate the witch doctor more and more. But the Lord just sat with a smile on His face.

The infuriated Appayyaswamy decided to use the strongest weapon of his arsenal perhaps - a magic collyrium called the Kalikam. It was a mixture of all the acidic abracadabra in the torture repertoire. He took the Kalikam  and did something that left all of us aghast. He applied it directly to the delicate eyes of Swami. In an instant, they swelled up beyond recognition and tears began to flow out of them. That was only a bodily reaction and not Swami crying because He still had that beautiful smile dancing on His lips. He did not speak a thing or even lift a finger in protest.

Buried neck deep in a slush of dung, herbs and neem leaves. 

I am not the body -  a lesson for all humanity

Easwaramma and Venkamma rushed in at this point.
“Please let go of him. He is only a little boy...”
“Ay! Keep away. This is the strongest ghost I have ever faced and I am on the brink of a breakthrough. Don’t interrupt me now.”
“At least give him a short break...” they pleaded.
Thankfully, the demon agreed.

Sathya made signs to them asking them to keep quiet. He told them to await Him outside. He then walked out to meet them.
“Go to that tree there and pluck the broad-leaved herb you find under it. Crush those leaves into a paste and bring it to me.”

It was matter of moments after this paste was applied to His eyes that they returned to their original size. Ah! It was such a joy to behold my Kamala Netra Saishwara (The lotus-eyes Lord Sai) again.

The witch doctor was put out by this interference with the normal course of his ‘treatment’. He fretted and fumed like a wild animal whose prey had been snatched away.
“I was within an inch of victory and you both have ruined all that!”
By now, the father and brother had also come and even the men’s hearts melted at the plight of Swami. They immediately pulled out cash and paid the entire fees. The brother added a few unasked gifts as well. I didn’t see all that because I was sitting with Swami. He was once more speaking to Himself.
“I am not the body.... I am not the body.”

Again, I felt that He was not speaking to Himself but to me. It seemed as though He wanted to convey that the whole episode was a Divine drama being enacted to convey the message that He was not the body!

I remembered His statement at Puttaparthi before we left to Kadiri,
“To understand who I am, they will have to know who I am not!”

The parents were intent on saving their little son from the messenger of death. They promised to build up the boy’s stamina a little more before getting him again to Appayyaswamy for the continuation of treatment. Then, they quickly loaded the bullock cart and set out to Puttaparthi the very next day. I somehow felt that they would never return here.

to be continued in the second part which is at the link given below:

"Who am I" - A time travel to the least understood period of Sri Sathya Sai's life_Part 2

For all readers:

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  1. yesterday only i was watching this episode in swami's movie...... very painful!! but He is God.

    1. My response would be another question.

      When God watches 'painful' epsiodes in movies of our life, won't He also say, "Very painful... But You are God!" ?


    2. Swami goes beyond the impossible to make us understand some facts.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sairam Aravind. First of all you travelled back in time to the month and year of birth (of this body which is identified by name given by parents) but not to the place of birth - which is Poona now called Pune. Your narrative of World War 2 events, present day situation in the world and finally that period in SWAMI's childhood, along with illustrations are captivating. Thanks a lot for the same and will eagerly wait for the next part of the narrative. SWAMI's blessings are with for ever. Have started reading your second book Capturing Divinity, though at a slower pace.

  4. just found this account- its super & reminds me of Swami's dream appearance in 2008 in Santa Rosa- he's shown me his scalp the area where his hair had the bald spot like a tonsur- I very closely saw deep grooves -folds in his scalpleft by torture-it makes me cry-I don't know why Baba has shown this to me - in his human form HE certainly felt pain & asked for help also- this is just part of the story-granny


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