Blessed By Baba
Kumkum Chadha, Hindustan Times
June 15, 2007
The gold-studded green stone turns white; a necklace is lost and found; and medical advice to implant a pacemaker is defied. All because of the Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, of whom politician-turned-Governor-turned-politician Motilal Vora is an ardent devotee.
‘Vorajee’ as he is popularly known, sings paeans of the ‘Baba’ and advocates his being a one-man formula for inner peace. Vora, then UP Governor, met Baba for the first time through a Chief Minister who would often land up in the state and use the Raj Bhawan as a transit point because he believed that UP was a ‘land of astrologers’. On one such visit, the Chief Minister told Vora about how Baba had transformed his life and coaxed him to meet him. Vora did and with that began an unending spiritual journey.
Today he is a die-hard believer. The incident of his ‘green ring turning white’ still gives him goose-pimples. It was during a routine visit to the Raj Bhawan in Lucknow that the Baba suddenly swung his hand in the air and produced ‘vibhuti’ (sacred ash). What Vora was not prepared for was the Baba sprinkling the ash on his favourite green ring. “Within minutes, it changed from green to white,” recalls Vora flashing his index finger on which he has worn the stone ever since.
The ‘necklace episode’ was dramatically different and is interpreted by Vora as a ‘test case’ by Baba to see if the Voras were careful with wishes that he bestowed on them. “He gave my wife a necklace with an ‘Om’ pendant. By the time we reached the car, it was missing. Panic gripped. We searched everywhere but with no luck. A silent prayer to Baba, and lo and behold, it was on my wife’s neck. It was Baba’s way of testing if we take care of what he gives us.”
Years later when he was hospitalised with an ailing heart, doctors advised him to implant a pace-maker. Vora was adamant. No pacemaker till Baba allows it. When he took a flight to Puttaparthi, the doctors thought Vora had actually lost his mind. But a wave of the hand and a fistful of vibhuti smeared over his heart proved the doctors wrong. “It has been 15 years and my heart beats without a pacemaker.”
Born in Rajasthan and growing up in Madhya Pradesh, Vora acquired the ‘Hindi belt habit’ of chewing paan and consuming tobacco when very young. His habits worsened in UP because during Governor’s Rule, Raj Bhawan was the obvious haunt of journalists, most of them being paan-chewing and tobacco-consuming people. When colleague Shiela Kaul got him a betel plant, he thought the best way to cut expenses was to plant paan plants on the Raj Bhawan lawns.
Raj Bhawan is also where he swore an ecstatic Mayawati in as Chief Minister for the first time. “When I invited her to form the government, her first reaction was to call ‘maanyaver’.” In other words her mentor, Kanshi Ram, Vora explains.