It was in 1943, when Baba was seventeen years of age. One Full Moon night, about 9 P.M., five of us intent on `examining’ Him, persuaded Baba to walk out with us to the sands of the Chithravathi River. He led us to a place where the dead are buried! We asked Baba, in Pun, “Well, Baba! Why have you brought us to the burial ground?” “Why? Are you dreading to go through it?” He questioned us. We said, “Yes, Baba. But, we are counting on Thy Grace, and our luck,” and sat around Him.
Whenever we ask for anything, Baba used to answer, “Oh” “Right” “Why doubt about it?” “We shall see,” or some such similar word or words. So, one of us said, “Swami! Give us something to eat!” Baba laughed within Himself, and cast His glance on all of us in turn. I said, “Are you Sai Baba or not?” He replied quickly, “I am; what is it that you want? Hot Laddu? Boondi? Masaladosa? Poli? Do you want Suggi? Ask for whatever you desire to eat!”
Those were the days when mangoes could not be had anywhere. So, we planned to ask for mango. “We want here, from these sands, fine mango fruit,” Baba sang two lines from an old song, “Yathna Prayathnamul, manavadharmamu jayapajayamul daivaadheenamu”
“To try and struggle is man’s duty; to give or not to give man victory is God’s will.” He said, “Try; you will get them.” So, one of us took a few steps forward on the sand, as if to pick up the fruit, and shouted from where he stood, “Are they here? Or there? Tell me where they are, and I shall dig the sand in that place, to take them.” Baba replied, from where He was sitting, “Dig anywhere.” So, he bent low and sat on the sand and dug into it about three feet, in great earnest. He said at last, “Swami! I do not see any mango here!” Baba said, “Boy! You can get it there! Try, reciting the Name of God! Kashte phale” (Fulfilment only through tireless labour)!
So, my friend dug a depth of a few more inches, saying aloud, “Sai Ram,” “Sai Ram”. All of a sudden He was shocked into a strange terror when his fingers touched something soft and cold! For, it was the burial ground; it might well be a corpse! Seeing him, Baba (young Boy that He was) rolled on the sand laughing loudly at his plight. We too laughed with Him. “My dear fellow! It is not a dead body” said Baba, and asked me to go and help my friend. “It is a fruit, a fruit,” He told us.
“Go and see,” He ordered me and so, I went and peeped into the hole. O, the fragrance of ripe mango! Baba said, “He sees a corpse; you say it is fragrant! Whose word is true? Dig a little more, and bring me what you get!”
We made a wider hole and dug a little deeper; we called out Sai Ram, often. We got a nice Mulgoa mango, cold to the touch as if it had been taken out of a fridge just then. We took it to Baba and asked, “Swami! How can this one fruit suffice for five of us?” Swami had a knife in His hand (wherefrom it came, we could not guess). He started slicing the fruit and distributing the pieces to us, the taste was unimaginably sweet and lasting. Our stomachs soon became overfull. “Enough, Baba! Enough!” we cried.
Swami said, “There is half the fruit still with Me. Who will eat this?” We prayed to be excused. “Impossible, Swami! We cannot eat any more,” we swore. But, Baba did not yield. “Look here! The cremation ground, the burial place is here. I shall call ghosts to terrorise you. Eat, without protest,” He commanded. As the mother feeds the child persuading it to swallow each morsel threatening it with `a tiger’ or `thief’, Baba fed us the entire fruit that day!
Extracted from an article by P. Lakshmiah in Sanathana Sarathi, May 1970