Swami the Driver – Early Devotees


For readers who enjoy stories about Sri Sathya Sai Baba, here is one from an old devotee.

The Early days: The playful Swami

In those days many prominent people from cities like Bangalore and Madras came to Swami and were attracted to him, they became his devotees. Some of them owned cars and they would leave the car with Swami in Puttaparthi for Swami’s personal use.

Many times Swami would himself drive from Puttaparthi to Bangalore, He would travel in those cars of the 1940’s which barely gave 2-3 kms a litre and on those mud filled and rugged roads, it was not always a pleasant experience.   The distance from Puttaparthi to Bangalore is 154 kms, yet he would take just 90 minutes to get there.

Swami would drive at incredible speed. The car would sometimes be “off the ground.”  Yet, there were never any accidents on the way nor would he ever skip a signal. Many times, a scared Seshagiri Rao who travelled with him, would fold his hand during the journey, mutter a prayer and close his eyes throughout the journey.

Sri. Kasthuri had once written that Swami drove a car all by Himself all the way from Chennai to Hyderabad. It was an overnight trip and pretty scary but Swami wanted to reach the residence of Sri. B.Ramakrishna Rao, before he breathed his last.

His highness Sri Gopala Krishna Yachendra of Venkatagiri Royal family says:

“We used to come to Puttaparthi by car always. One incident is still fresh in my mind..   Once in Puttaparthi I asked Swami, “Swami why don’t you teach me to drive. I would also like to see you drive”. Swami said, “Let us go.” He got into the driver seat and drove off from the old Mandir at the outskirts of Puttaparthi to the new Mandir – a distance of 300 yards. The new Mandir was still under construction. I sat next to him terrified at this unexpected turn of events. The last stretch was uphill. Then Swami suddenly took his hands off the wheel and sat cross-legged and I almost fainted  from shock. The car went so fast. The gears changed on their own and it finally stopped without Swami touching the pedals. Swami smiled at me, after we got out of the now stationary car… I never asked him to drive again although, I was thrilled to accompany him on that short and eventful journey.”

Many readers will now wonder whether Swami had a Driving licence. Yes he did. It was the Road Transport Officer Mr. Ramachandran, who issued a driving license to Swami in Chennai when he was barely 17 year old. Finding the young lad very skilled in driving, he subjected him to many tests when he was asked to test drive a car. He then issued a driving license to Swami.

With Love & Regards, Mumbai Srinivasan