Sathya Sai Baba, Shirdi Sai Baba And Pedda Bottu

Shirdi Sai Sathya Sai Shirdi Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba, Shirdi Sai Baba And Pedda Bottu
Pedda Bottu recalled her experiences with Shirdi Sai Baba and how he prophesied that he would reincarnate as another Avatar in Andhra Pradesh and draw her to himself again. Shortly after Sathya Sai Baba’s claim that he was Shirdi Sai Baba (when he was 14 years old), Pedda Bottu visited him in Andhra Pradesh:

My mother, Manthrapragada Ramalaksmhi Devi, and my father, Venkata Narasimha Rao—who were childless in spite efforts—visited their Guru, Shirdi Sai Baba, in 1887 and prayed to him for a child. As the fruit of Shirdi Sai Baba’s grace, I was born to them on August 8, 1888. Shirdi Sai Baba himself gave me my name, Shringeri Sharada Devi. As I am of fair complexion, he used to lovingly call me Gori.

In my sixth year, my elders took me on a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the Himalayas. Soon after this trip, I was arranged in marriage and moved into my husband’s household in my twelfth year [as was customary in India in earlier days]. I bore six male children to my husband by the age of 23, but all of them died after living for merely three to four years of age.

As all my children were lost and I failed to bear any more children, I consented for my husband to remarry, and I moved to settle down at Shirdi in the presence of Sai Baba.

I saw Shirdi Sai Baba perform many miracles. Once, a tahasildar, an old devotee of Shirdi Baba came for Baba’s darshan. On seeing him Baba said, “I am happy that you have come. I wish to have puran poli [fried sweet]. Bring me one.” As there were no hotels in those days the man proceeded all the way to Kopargaon, a larger town about 20 km away from Shirdi, to have a few puran poli’s prepared somehow. He brought them to Shirdi the following day for Baba’s lunch time.

Baba then told him, “I have eaten my belly full. Why did you bring them? You may take them back.” On hearing this, the devotee was stupefied and started weeping. He said, “Because you asked for puran poli’s, I got them prepared—straining myself. How could you have your fill when you have not even started your lunch, Baba? Please eat at least one for all my labor.”

Baba replied, “When you were getting the sweets prepared, I visited the place in the form of ants and ate them. Can you not believe that my stomach is really full? Look at this,” so saying Baba belched and spat out some pieces of puran poli. God is the indwelling spirit of everyone. There were many instances when Baba demonstrated this truth.

Baba never failed to give succour to those who prayed to him with full faith.

One day I requested Baba to give me Mantra Upadesh (Spiritual initiation). Baba replied, “You are young yet. I will give you Upadesh when you grow older.” I waited until I was 29 years old and prayed to Baba again. He shouted at me with anger, “You are always obsessed with Upadesh!,” and kicked me on the chest with his right foot.

With tears of dejection streaming down my face, I went out and laid down under a tree. I must have slept after weeping for a long time; it was very late at night when Baba came to wake me up. He asked me to follow him to the Lendi Garden. When we reached the garden, he said, “My child! I could not sleep in Dwarka Mayi [Baba’s dweling] when you were lying out there without food since morning. I have brought you here, for I want to tell you something. But first you must eat.”

He stretched out his right hand with palm up and said, “Allah Malik hai” (God is the master).

Two chapathis and a lemon sized kova [a sweet, made out of milk] materialized in his palm. He gave them to me to eat. Again, he stretched out his hand and this time a very small mud pot full of water materialized. When I ate and drank he asked me, “Gori, is your anger gone?” I mentally replied in all humility, “There is no anger or frustration now. I was a fool not to realize that your kick was in fact your grace. My heartfelt gratitude to you for allowing me to eat your divine materialization’s.” Baba then told me, “I will tell you something, but before that you should hold my feet and promise me not to tell this to anyone.” With pounding heart and anticipating the much awaited Mantra Upadesh, I did as he told me.

“Gori, I will appear in Andhra [Pradesh] with the same name of Sai Baba but in another Avathar. Then again, you will come to me. I will keep you with me and give you joy.” I was ecstatic in joy and said, “I am blessed my Lord, this is my greatest fortune! Should I not reveal this fact to anybody?” Baba confirmed, “No, you alone will see my second Avathar, none else will. After you have seen me in my second form, you may tell this to others when occasions arise.”

This conversation between us took place in 1917. Later, I was informed that my ailing elder aunt wanted to see me at Rajahmundry. It was when I was at Rajahmundry in 1918 that I learnt that Baba had left his physical body. I was filled with a kind of inexplicable anguish.

One day my aunt told me, “I must arrange my journey on Ekadasi, day after tomorrow. Sri Baba himself appeared in my dream and called me to him.” On Ekadasi she passed away with the Lord’s name on her lips. I had deserted my family life due to the loss of all my sons. The parents too, who loved me, had left this world long ago. There was no longer the solace and protection I had from Baba. To top it all, now my dearest aunt was also no more! The sense of forlornness and depression was now to the full brim. I learnt that there was a number of learned saints in the hills of Dwaraka and decided to spend the rest of my life in their service.

I started off and after five days of crossing rivers in spate and fearsome forests, I reached a tunnel-like cave. I entered it, walked through its length and reached the other side. A group of people were shouting slogans in praise of a ‘Sadguru Maharaj’. I soon understood that this great man was about 360 years old. I was keen on having his darshan and earn some spiritual merit. I sat in meditation under a tree but nobody came to see or talk with me. I was steeped in sorrow. On the fourth day, an old saint, presumably the Sadguru Maharaj, appeared in front of me and asked me the reason for my unhappiness. I replied that when he, the Swamiji, the all-knowing omniscient did not bother about me, I got disheartened. The great one told, “You are new to this place. I wanted to test your endurance. Now, go and take a dip in that holy lake and come back. I shall give you Upadesh.” I was elated! I bathed in the holy water, returned, and received the Mantra Upadesh. Now I had a holy word to repeat in meditation and reach the highest level of serenity.

Sadguru Maharaj himself had five Masters. He showed me five caves in which each of these supreme saints sat in perpetual meditation. Sadguru Maharaj advised me to choose one of these supreme saints, sit in meditation in his company and obtain Siddhi [spiritual power]. I selected the Master of the first cave. His name was Sri Chandra Yogi. I preferred him to others because I recollected a person of the exact likeness of Sri Chandra Yogi appearing and calling me to him in a dream in my childhood days. I sat in the presence of Sri Chandra Yogi every day, repeating the mantra twenty million times and obtained the Siddhi.

I spent six more years in those holy hills. Sadguru Maharaj gave me and other disciples a series of discourses on the Vedas; Vedanta, secrets of the entire cosmos, and many topics of spiritual importance. One day the Maharaj told me, “You have learnt everything that there is to know. Now listen to me carefully. You have to do many more good deeds. The God you think you have lost is about to come into this world soon, for the uplift of the entire humanity. You will not see him in the old form with which you are familiar. He will appear in a new captivating form. He will be the most powerful Avathar and will do many extraordinary things. Hence, return to your place, learn about this lovable God and receive your salvation in his service.”

I developed a great liking to the sacred atmosphere of the hills, the peaceful and calm life of meditation and the company of the holy, scholarly persons. So, it was with a heavy heart I persuaded myself to return to Hyderabad.

In an effort to spend my time, money, and strength in a beneficial activity, I planned a home for the poor, and destitute children and named it ‘All India Sai Sadan’. It started functioning with eighty children. I gave them not only food and formal education, but taught them vocational activities like stitching, making toys, and other handicrafts. After some time, I began to run out of money and supplemented the income by writing Hari Kathas [short stories about God] and singing them wherever I was asked to. One day I was invited to sing a Hari Katha in a village called Uruvakonda. In the house where this event was arranged, I happened to see on the wall a photograph of a beautiful lad. He had a large crown of hair. The face and eyes were most charming and magnetic. I asked the housewife whose photo it was. She told me, “Don’t you know? He is Puttaparthi Sai Baba. If you want to see him, I can take you to him tomorrow.” The next day I was taken to the house of one Mr. Seshama Raju, the elder brother of Baba. I then saw the young 14 year old Baba. It was in 1940. I was then 52 years old.

The first words that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba uttered to me where, “Gori, you owe me 16 rupees in my Shirdi incarnation.” I replied that I had already paid up all my debts to Shirdi Baba. He said, “I know. I said it because you are not able to recognize me. Otherwise, you would have fallen at my feet. All right! After completing all your tasks at the Poor Home you are running, go to Puttaparthi. I shall retain you with me and shall bestow all the joy you want.” For the next 17 years, I used to visit Puttaparthi frequently and spend a few months every time in the divine presence of Baba. In 1958, when I was 70, I closed down the Poor Home and went to Puttaparthi to spend the rest of my life there. Baba gave me an apartment to stay in the ashram.

Once I was ill when Baba was away at Bangalore. In spite of my indisposition, I wanted to perform my duty as a lady volunteer in maintenance of discipline and silence in the temple premises. It was 6:30 PM. The post-bhajan meditation pactice was in progress. Suddenly I noticed Bhagavan Baba beckoning me into the temple corridor. Since meditation was going on, he was naturally motioning his hand silently but it was clear he wanted me to go to him. How can Baba be here too at the Puttaparthi temple, when he was in Bangalore right at that moment? I was sure it was some apparition; my sick mind was evidently playing tricks. I looked the other way for a moment and again turned back. Baba was very much there. Losing faith in my faculties, I looked away. This time Baba walked towards me and said very audibly, “Come!” I had to believe the voice at least. Baba might have returned from Bangalore without my knowing it.

He materialised Vibhutti and gave me to cure my illness with. He then motioned me to take Padnamaskar. Filled with bliss at his loving concern for me, I bowed down and had the Padnamaskar. When I raised my head there was no Baba to be seen anywhere. By this time, I was surrounded by many women. Serious doubts of my mental soundness was being freely exchanged. There were few takers when I narrated what actually happened. I showed them the Vibhutti that Baba had given me. Some, at least, in the group must have thought I was a blessed soul. I began to feel better when I ate the Vibhutti. By next morning, I was fit as a fiddle.

This happened again when Baba was away at Bangalore. My eye was swollen and red. The eyelid was hanging down swollen and red. The eyelid was hot and it was giving me excruciating pain. The doctor at the Puttaparthi hospital told that it was a serious condition and that an operation was necessary. I was scared out of my wits and rushed to Bangalore. Baba saw me and admonished, “Why did you come here?”

I wailed, “You are the Lord of all creation. Where else can I go? Look at my eye. I came here because I could not bear the pain.” He materialised Vibhutti and poured the entire stuff into my eye. He asked me to close the eye and led me to a place to lie down. He called a security guard and instructed him, “Nobody should disturb this old lady as long as she sleeps.” I slept until eight o’clock the next morning. Baba came and examined the eye. He said, “It is normal. Now go back to Puttaparthi and attend to your duties. I shall return tomorrow.” On another occasion, I went to Baba complaining of a stomach ache. He materialised Vibhutti with the familiar rotation of his hand and asked me to smear it on my forehead in the form of a big Bottu (dot). Baba added, “Your stomach pain will vanish. And from now on you will be called Pedda Bottu (Big dot)!” Thus Pedda Bottu became my permanent name.

Pedda Bottu (Smt. Gali Sarada Devi) Prasanthi Nilayam

Also see: Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba And M.S. Dixit & M.K. Raman