Celebrating The Birthday Of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba

Celebrating The Birthday Of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba

In a Most Wonderful Divine Discourse on September 28th, 1991, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says about Shirdi Sai Baba:

Sathya Sai Baba: In the former Nizam’s dominions, there was a remote village called Pathri. In that village there were a couple named Gangabhavadya and Devagiriamma. They were grieving over the lack of children. In answer to their prayers a son was born on September 28, 1835.

Today is the anniversary of that day. The child was Sai Baba.

His Samadhi (death) occurred on Vijayadasami day in 1918. September 28, 1835 was his date of birth. On Vijayadasami day, he gave up his body. Although this year Vijayadasami falls on September 29th, in the year of Baba’s Samadhi the date was different.

“The first advent of Sai was in Maharashtra. The second advent will be in Madras,” Shirdi Baba said. It should be noted that when this form (Sathya Sai) made its advent, Andhra Pradesh was part of Madras Presidency. When he was asked, in what form the next advent would take place, Shirdi Baba told Abdul Baba alone: “I will give darsan in the name of Sathya for upholding Truth.” That is the present advent.

The two bodies are different, but the Divinity is one. The first advent was revealing Divinity. The second advent is to awaken the Divinity (in human beings). The next advent is for propagating Divinity. The three Sai’s are: Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai and Prema Sai.

So let us celebrate Sri Shirdi Sai’s 174th Birthday on September 28th.

Om Sai Ram

Kumar Mahadevan

The Interviews

Sathya Sai Baba Interviews

Sathya Sai Baba Interviews

The Interviews

People of other countries referred to this country by several names. However, even now, when Indians go abroad, they introduce themselves saying, “I am from Delhi; I am from Kolkata; I am from Bengaluru”, etc., instead of replying “I am from Bharath.” These are actually cities and regions which form part of India. Hence, it would be appropriate to say that you are from India. Wherever you go, you must be proud to refer to yourself as Bharatheeyas. The name ‘Bharatha’ has great significance. ‘Bha’ refers to ‘Bhagawan’ or ‘God’ and ‘ratha’ refers to ‘Love’. Thus, Bharatheeyas are people who love God. The country of Bharath has acquired its name on account of such people inhabiting it. (Sathya Sai Baba: Divine Discourse on Onam, 12th September 2008)

“Are you staying a little time?” “Of course, of course!” I said “Come back the day after tomorrow, and I give one hour to discuss all these things.” The words, when read, might appear casual, but Sathya Sai Baba talks to you as if you are the only person in the world. He does so with tender concern, intimacy and emphasis, looking into your eyes, and with that beautiful, understanding smile. He gives everything…writes Peggy Mason.

With a last smile to us both, He turned towards an inner room through a curtain. He seemed to float away rather than walk, with that gentle movement which is indescribable. I have to keep on using the word “gentle” in connection with Sathya Sai Baba. He is the embodiment of Love. If, on occasion, He ever appears stern in any way, it is only the appearance, only out of love, if correction is needed, or in order to induce people to examine themselves, to “enquire within”, for their own sake.

I have no idea how long or how short that interview was, for time stands still in His presence. One is transported to another dimension. When He bestows personal attention, one experiences so much more than any actual words—from His expressions, movements, voice, and being within that radiant rose pink aura, ‘the memory of which can never dim once it has been experienced’.

The fact is that no one can attempt to analyse or explain anything about Him. As He once gave out: “I am beyond the reach of the most intensive inquiry and the most meticulous measurement. Only those who have recognised My love and experienced that love can assert that they have glimpsed My reality”

I passed a strange but wonderful night. My whole being, seemed galvanized into greater intensity and life.

During the interview Sathya Sai Baba did what I am sure He had planned to do the day before! He took hold of my chain and pendant again, and asked: “Wouldn’t you like a real one? This is imitation.” Whereupon He circled His hand in the air and produced a charming silvery disc with His face on one side and the OM sign on the other. What a joy! It was of course what I had secretly longed for, but would not ask!

A little later He asked Ron what He wanted. Ron said, “To love more, and something from you, Swami.” Immediately Swami circled His hand again, and produced a gorgeous oval ring made of Swami’s “five metals,” with a coloured picture of His head in enamel.

He leaned forward and pushed it firmly onto the fourth finger of Ron’s left hand. It fitted perfectly, and was exactly what Ron had day dreamed about in the aeroplane on the flight to India- even the correct finger!

But a further and most unexpected blessing was yet to come which completely overwhelmed me. During a general conversation Satya Sai Baba turned to me again, and asked, “Do you do sadhana?” (a form of prayer and meditation). “Yes, Swami.” “When?” “At night, Swami.” To my wonderment He circled His hand several times in the air. As everyone gasped, out fell a long, beautiful 108 bead japamala—rosary necklace. Its total length, were if undone, is 48 inches and can be worn doubled round the neck and still be ample.

It just streamed down from his fingers like a cascade of crystal light. With an almost casual gesture, He spread it out with both hands and threw it over my head onto my shoulders without touching a single hair. “Oh Swami!” was all I could say, hardly believing that I had been blessed with two gifts from Him at one interview! (And always there was Vibhuti).

This is what He has said about such gifts:

“Do not crave from Me trivial material objects: but crave for Me, and you would be rewarded. Not that you should not receive whatever objects I give as sign of grace out of the fullness of love. I shall tell you why I give these rings, talismans, rosaries, etc. It is to mark the bond between me and those to whom they are given. When calamity befalls them, the article comes to me in a flash and returns in a flash, taking from me the remedial grace of protection. That grace is available to all who call on Me in any name or form, not merely to those who wear these gifts. Love is the bond that wins grace.”

(from Sanathana Sarathi, September, 1980)


The Charisma Of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Charisma Of Sathya Sai Baba - Shirdi Sai Baba

A personal reaction: the Charisma of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

In the year 1971, when the first edition of “Shri Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi” was published by Somaiya Publications Pvt. Ltd., the writer was not even aware of the manifestation of this “Maha Yogi” known as Shri Satya Sai Baba. For this reason Shri Satya Sai Baba’s name was not included in the chapter entitled “The successors of Sai Baba” in part II of my book.

But, subsequently, the writer had the privilege of meeting Satya Sai Baba quite frequently, and each meeting was an experience and a revelation! Truly the ‘leelas’ of the Divine are inscrutable! For, now that I have been commissioned to prepare this fourth and revised edition of the “Saint of Shirdi”, I feel that it is a God given opportunity to include in the second part of my book a chapter on Shri Satya Sai Baba as also one of the illustrious successors of the Saint of Shirdi — at whose lotus feet I have found my refuge and shelter.

Since this chapter comprises a very intimate portrayal of my personal reactions to and my experiences of Shri Satya Sai Baba’s Grace, I have taken the liberty of discarding the conventional phrase “the writer”. substituting in its place the personal pronoun ‘I’ whenever I have felt the necessity to express my emotional reaction more effectively to the charisma of Shri Satya Sai Baba’s unusual outpouring of Grace on this humble writer. Destiny’s deep contrasts are but the ‘Leelas’ draping the unanimity of the one Divine!

At the outset, I would like to say that I have no intention of getting involved in the controversy whether Shri Satya Sai Baba is or is not an Incarnation of the Shirdi Baba. In any case, the writer feels that at out level of consciousness such speculations are presumptuous — and therefore futile. It is sufficient to recognize Shri Satya Sai Baba as one of Bharat’s “Maha Yogis”.

It is only when one actually sees the Baba that one realizes that his pictures which appear in the papers do not do him justice. For, the main attraction of the “Yogi” is in his eyes which are not only magnetic, but are also brimful of love and compassion. His bizarre miracles of producing “Uddhi” from empty space and the materialization of all kinds of silver and gold images and rings from his mouth give one a queer feeling of apparent showmanship which is not attractive….but one soon learns to accept these powers as an unusual method of the saint to lure people to him by giving them what they want so that later they may learn to crave for the jewels of the Spirit. Each “Yogi” has his own peculiar modus operandi, and who are we to judge whether they are right or wrong? For, as soon as we come in contact with this incredible Master, we realize that his ultimate mission is not to give material satisfaction to his flock, but rather to lead them gradually to appreciate the glittering virtues of the spirit.

The social services that this “Avatar” organizes for the benefit of the humanity are many. Hospitals, Schools and Colleges are built and commissioned to help the cause of education and to give relief to the sick and the ailing. Perhaps, no other saint has involved himself in such practical solutions of the country’s welfare. There is no dearth of volunteers who dedicate their services to the institutions started by the Baba who infuses the spirit of service and dedicated work to his followers. We are reminded of Swami Vivekananda who said years ago that “Work is Worship”. Baba has not much respect for the “Yogi” who spends his time enjoying his own individual Bliss, showing supreme indifference to the sufferings of the others. This life says Baba is ‘preface to the epic of the supreme’ which requires the practice of an internal “Yoga”. It is no wonder, therefore, that Shri Satya Sai Baba is recognized by even the highest Government officials and enjoys a popularity which has no parallel among the godmen of Bharat.

But despite this preoccupation with the vaster issues of life, Shri Satya Sai Baba, like Sai Baba of Shirdi, gives an amazing outpouring of love and understanding of the problems of men an women individually. His heart is full of compassion for the woes and miseries of the ordinary householder. Satya Sai’s miracles for the upliftment of those who are oppressed with the diseases of the body and the agony of the mind are well known to those who go to him with Faith.

It is on this note that I should like to conclude this brief chapter after relating the two personal tokens for one who does not merit such favours.

(1) Round about the year 1978 Shri P.K. Savant, who was then one of the ministers of the Maharashtra Government, met me at a public function and said to me — “Mrs. Sahukar, I have read and appreciated your book, ‘Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi’, but how is it that you refrain from prostrating at the feet of his Incarnation, Shri Satya Sai Baba?” I was taken aback, as I replied — “Mr. Savant, I do not know much about Shri Satya Sai Baba, but even so I would not hesitate to pay my homage to one whom I recognize as one of our spiritual Masters. Due, however, to my physical ailments, I am unable to go into big crowds, so I keep away.” However, Mr. Savant graciously invited me and my husband to a small gathering in his house where Shri Baba was to come. We went to this function gladly. When we reached Mr. Savant’s house, we were told that Baba had gone upstairs for a brief respite. The staircase was guarded by volunteers. I pleaded with one of these volunteers to let us go up as we were special guests of Shri Savant, but the man was rude and refused to comply. I started getting sore, and rebuked this man, and while this unseemly row was going on, Shri Sai Baba himself came down the stairs, much to my embarrassment. I wished then that the ground would open and swallow me up! But the Beloved Master only looked at me with a gleam of loving amusement in his eyes. he had a garland of flowers in his hand which he put around my neck. This gracious gesture took my breath away, and I prostrated myself at his holy feet.

(2) The second Miracle of Grace took place in White Field, Baba’s Ashram in Bangalore. Just a day before we were due to leave for Bombay, we learnt that Baba was arriving from Puttaparthy. Very naturally, my husband and I went there for the holy saint’s “darshan”. About three to four hundred “bhaktas” were already seated in neat rows. I joined the women who told me that Baba would emerge from a cottage we could see in the background. Then Baba would walk through certain rows and leaving other rows alone, all according to his sweet will. Soon, we saw the frail Swamiji walking towards us. My heart was pounding like a machine. Would he walk through the aisle where I was? He approached us and them swerved away from us. He then went to a small dais at the end of the compound and sat on the chair. It was all over. The lucky ones who were blessed with “Uddhi” were chirping, and the unfortunate one (I among them) felt desolate. But, since I felt completely forsaken, from the depth of my being I prayed to my Master the Saint of Shirdi. “Beloved Sai”, I silently begged, “Do not let him ignore me like this. Somehow make Satya Sai Baba come to me”. Then a great miracle manifested itself. Shri Satya Sai Baba in response to my silent cry, suddenly got up and came down the dais and made a bee-line for me. He came close to me and lightly touched my forehead and then walked away to the cottage. There were two or three more of such extraordinary miracles which swept me off my feet.

But despite all these supreme tokens of his Grace and love for me, I have never felt a desire to go to puttaparthy. Perhaps for me the image and form in which I have been worshipping Sai Baba through the years — the beloved old man with white beard and hair sitting cross-legged is like an indelible image in my heart and no other image can replace it. It may also be an unconscious yet deep feeling within me that if Satya Sai Baba is indeed my beloved Guru’s Incarnation, then my staunch dedication, love and devotion to this supreme being would automatically reach any manifestation who is an Incarnation of Shri Sai Baba, the Saint of Shirdi.

I end this chapter in all humility, leaving stone by stone the pattern to the Designer.

Source: The Saint of Shirdi – by Mani Sahukar (Chapter 15)

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

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

Shirdi Sai Baba Avatara Shirdi Sathya Sai Baba

Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba And M.S. Dixit & M.K. Raman
The following are two more stories (in addition to the story of Pedda Bottu) about Sathya Sai Baba being the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba:

The Testimony Of M.K. Raman In Paul William Robert’s Book: “Empire Of The Soul”:

Having named his son Sathya Narayana, his father was understandably perplexed to find the boy calling hismelf a name that then meant nothing to him. It turned out that Sai Baba had been the name of a holy man in Shirdi, a town weeks away from puttaparthi and some days’ journey north of Bombay. This Sai Baba had died at the beginning of the century and had been a low-key, enigmatic figure to whom miraculous powers were attributed by a small circle of devotees. No one ever seemed too sure if he was a Muslim or a Hindu. His starkly unadorned message had been one of love and the unity of all faiths, his dress ambiguous, his home a ruined mosque. To his followers he had announced that he would be reincarnated in the South eight years after his death. He had died in 1918.

Someone once told me a story that appeared to confrim this. M.K. Raman was ninety-seven when I met him. He’d been an ardent devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, one of those who’d personally heard the holy man announce his next incarnation. Nearly half a century elapsed before he learned of a south Indian guru who claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba and thus felt ‘mildly obliged’ to set out for Puttaparthi. He did not really believe he’d find there ‘any truth to the outlandish claim.’

When they first met and before either had spoken a word, Sathya Sai Baba waved his hand and materialized two coins for M.K. Raman – four annas in the old and long-obsolete Raj-era currency. ‘I knew then that it was true,’ Raman recalled, his creaky old voice quavering with emotion. A lifetime earlier, he told me, just before his death, Shirdi Sai Baba had mysteriously demanded of Raman four annas. As this old Sai Baba, like the new model, never asked for anything, and rarely even accepted personal gifts, the incident had stuck in Raman’s mind for fifty years. Such stories are common to the point of cliche around Sathya Sai Baba.

The Testimony Of Mr. M S Dixit In Howard Murphet’s Book: “Sai Baba: Man of Miracles”:

M S Dixit was born in 1897 to Sadashiv Dixit, an advocate who was at one time Diwan (Prime Minister) of the royal state of Kutch. Sadashiv’s eldest brother, Hari S. Dixit, was a solicitor in Bombay and a member of the Legislative Council. Hari Dixit became a close devotee of Shirdi Baba.

In the company of his uncle Hari, M. S. Dixit told me, he made his earliest visits to Shirdi; first in the year 1909, and again in 1912. Before this second visit he had been suffering what he called “half-headaches”.

At sunrise half his head would start to ache agonizingly; then a little before sunset it would stop. This would go on each day for about two months at a stretch; it was very distressing. His uncle took him to Sai Baba hoping for a cure of the strange headaches.

Mr. Dixit recalls vividly how he was sitting near Sai Baba one day when Baba suddenly said to him: “Why are you sitting here – go home!”

Young Dixit replied that he had a bad headache and the heat of the fire near which he was sitting brought him some relief. But Baba insisted that he must go. It was the custom when leaving to take some ash from the fireplace and put it in Baba’s hand, so that He might with it give His parting blessing.

The fourteen-year-old boy did this. Baba held the udhi for a moment and then applied it to the lad’s forehead with some force. Young Dixit felt that he had been slapped on the head as well as ordered to go away, so he told his uncle that he would not visit Baba anymore.

Hari Dixit replied: “Are you a fool? The slap means that your headache will not recur.”

This turned out to be true. The strange and terrible headaches never came back after that day, and young Dixit understood that Baba had been in His enigmatic way ordering, not the boy, but the headache to go away.

Six years later, in July 1918, M. S. Dixit found himself ill again, this time with bad haemorrhoids and an anal fistula. The medical men of Bombay where he was living said he must undergo an operation, but he felt very nervous about having surgery and did not want it.

Yet he was suffering a lot and there was much bleeding. He felt very miserable about his condition. At one of the regular Thursday evening gatherings of Shirdi Baba’s Bombay devotees, M.S. Dixit was somehow overcome by the devotional atmosphere combined with his own misery. Although a young man of twenty, he broke down and cried like a child.

That night he had a dream in which Shirdi Baba came to him and chided him for “weeping like a girl”. Then the old saint told him what to use as a cure for his ailment.

After waking, Dixit could remember everything except the name of the medicine that Baba had prescribed. He was very distressed about this and decided to go to Shirdi as soon as possible and get the name from Baba’s lips.

But before he could go he heard the news Baba had passed away. “Now” he thought gloomily, “I shall never know the medicine’s name and must go on suffering.”

The next Thursday evening meeting, following the news of Baba’s passing, he found himself again overwhelmed with sorrow for himself, and wept once more. The same night brought him another vivid dream.

In this Baba stood before him again, still in the old Shirdi form. He said, “What! Crying like a girl again.”

Then he told the young man to “take seven seeds of pepper, crush them to powder, and each day take a pinch of the powder mixed with udhi”. All devotees, incidentally, kept some of Baba’s udhi in their homes. M. S. Dixit remembered these instructions clearly next morning and carried them out. On the third day of treatment the pain stopped; on the seventh the bleeding stopped.

A complete cure took place and the complaint never returned. The years passed and the pages of Dixit’s life turned over: he was in business; he got married; he was a major and Brigade Education Officer in the army during the Second World War and for some years afterwards. The year 1959 found him back in commercial life in the west-coast city of Mangalore.

During his leisure time he would read the ‘Guru Charitra’. It is said that if this book is read through completely within seven days, great spiritual benefits will ensue. On the evening of the sixth day of the reading he had a dream.

In the dream, he was walking along a broad avenue of trees, and felt that someone was following him. He looked back. There was a man, very distinctive looking, close behind him. Dixit asked: “Who are you and why are you following me?”

But there was no reply. The figure just continued to follow silently. After a few minutes Dixit looked back again and saw the man still following him. Neither said anything. Soon the footsteps drew closer, and Dixit felt that something was being poured over his head from behind. He realised that it was ash…

That was all of the dream he could remember on waking, but very clear in his mind remained the striking, unique figure and face of the man who followed him.

Some months afterwards – through an odd set of circumstances he heard that there was a reincarnatian of Shirdi Baba but did not believe it. Then later on he heard the same story again from another quarter and was shown a photograph of Sathya Sai Baba. It was the man who had followed him in the dream.

Now his interest was really aroused. He remembered his uncle’s story that Shirdi Baba had once told him: “I will appear again as a boy of eight years.”

Was this the boy, now grown to manhood? He decided to go as soon as possible to Puttaparti and find out all he could. It was early in 1961 when he managed to get there, as one of a party of about thirty people. The ashram was choked with the thousands who had arrived for the Shivaratri festival, and Dixit stood among them waiting for a view of Sathya Sai Baba on the high balcony.

When the little red-robed, dome-haired figure with the sweet, lovable face appeared, Dixit knew for certain that it was the figure of his strange dream. Yet, he thought, how can this be the old saint of Shirdi? With His coloured silks, hair like a woman and the big crowds around Him, this man is more like a film star. Shirdi Baba was rugged, homespun, simple: how can this possibly be the same man?, he pondered. Suddenly he wanted to go home.

But he stayed to watch Sathya Sai pour huge quantities of sacred ash from a small bowl over the statue of Shirdi Sai, and the same evening take nine lingams from his mouth. Then during a public discourse next day Baba said: “Some who have come here think I am too much like a film star; they object to my bright-coloured robes and the style of my hair…”

With consternation, Dixit heard all of his own unspoken critical thoughts being repeated from the platform. Then Baba went on to explain the reasons – good reasons Dixit felt – for the striking attire, the unique hairstyle and the other features of this incarnation.

Well, Dixit decided, He is certainly something very special. There is no doubt about His paranormal powers, but…. He is so different from old Shirdi Baba. Can it really be the same soul?

On his second visit to Prasanthi Nilayam three months later, he was called into a room with a group of half-a-dozen people for an interview. Baba came in, spoke to a few people, and then went up to M. S. Dixit who was holding a small photo of his uncle, H. S. Dixit, in his hand. Baba took the photo from him, looked at it, and said: “That’s H. S. Dixit, your uncle, your father’s elder brother, and my old devotee at Shirdi. Now have you any more doubts?”

His doubts were fewer because all that Baba had just said was true. And Dixit had told no one his name at the ashram. He was there incognito – just an unknown member of a crowd of visitors. But Baba had recognised the face of his uncle in the photo at first sight.

After that Dixit often made trips to the ashram and, through the years, enjoyed the wealth of Sai Baba’s miraculous powers, great compassion and spiritual teachings.

Once, speaking of Shirdi Baba’s remark to his uncle Hari about coming back to earth “as a boy of eight years”, Baba told Dixit that what he had really said was he would return as a boy in eight years, that is, eight years after his death – which he in fact did.

Sathya Sai added that H. S. Dixit must have misunderstood him. But it was, the many, many little things, more than these big ones that finally, convinced him that the two Sais were one, Dixit told me.

He went on to describe these important little things: the similarities in the siddhis (powers), the parallels in the teachings and manner of instruction, the subtle echoes from the past in gesture, phrase and attitude. “Sometimes I even see on his face the same old smile that I saw long ago on the face of Shirdi Baba,” he said.

Of course, the differences which he felt so sharply at first are indeed there, he admits. But there, is, after all, a different body, a different setting, a different period in time – a different environment for the Sai mission. And therefore the mission, while in spirit the same, cannot be precisely the same in form and style, and it is to be expected that the outer personality through which the message comes to the world will also be different.

Sai Baba himself comments that He is not as hard or angry now as he was in the earlier manifestation. He is more tolerant and gentle. He explains the difference by means of a simile: “The mother is usually hard when the children enter the kitchen and disturb the cooking; but while serving the food she is all smiles and patience. I am now serving the dishes cooked then. Wherever you may be, if you are hungry and if your plate is ready, I shall serve you the dishes and feed, you to your heart’s content.”

At another time, concerning the controversy about whether He is the same Baba or not, He said: “When there are two pieces of candy, one square, another circular, one yellow and the other purple in colour, unless one has eaten and realised the taste of both pieces one cannot, believe that both are the same. Tasting, experiencing – that’s the crucial thing for knowing the identity.”

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