Life is a game, play it – Sathya Sai Memories



Sathya Sai Baba in the early days. Under the old Banyan Tree in Whitefield



“Life is a challenge, meet it!

Life is a dream, realise it!

Life is a game, play it! Life is love, enjoy it!”

– Sri Sathya Sai Baba



A long-time-ago story about Sai Baba. I think the year was 1996. I arrived in Bangalore late one evening, and got a taxi to Whitefield. It had been a hell of a journey from London. The hot sun, after the cold and wet English weather, cheered me up but I was still not in a good mood. Actually, I wanted to go home! With some reluctance, I went to darshan the very next morning and found a row to sit in and reflect on why I was there. I sat there quietly pondering on why I would choose to put myself through endless lineups and cramped floor seats for endless weeks at a time. Was I stupid? What was making me torture myself like this? Sighed and sat with head down thinking: ‘this is not me, is it? It’s my heart. My heart wants to be here but my head is screaming ‘no, no, no!’  I dreaded more back row seats and those hot sweaty bodies and the sour bad breath that comes after long sits in the heat.



Then I spotted the seva dal with the bag full of seating numbers. I knew from countless visits before, this game of chance probably would not favour me! Too right! Our line was in the double digit category. I surrendered. When we eventually stood to be seated in the Sai Ramesh hall, I found a place as far away as possible from the central aisle. It was over by the chair ladies, in the last but one block. I could not be seen and I, myself, could not see anything but backs of heads !

Swami arrived that morning as usual. He did not enter the hall by the VIP entrance at the front but, unusually, by the second entrance in the middle of the ladies blocks. Instead of turning toward the VIPs and front as usual, he decided to go the other way, walking down the small narrow aisle, where sick and disabled ladies sat. He strolled all the way down to our block and stopped right in front of me !!!  

I sat there with mouth open, in-deed shock!  Of course, he never looked at me, but took letters from those nearby. He, later, strolled to the very back, walked along to the central aisle and up toward the front. “You can’t hide from Swami” – that’s the lesson here!


The Night of Sai-lence, A Meditation – Early Devotees

This is delightful and a very special piece, a sort of xmas piece… and here is a Baba xmas photo to go with this.

Swami, Christmas, 2003

I am, at the moment, writing from Bangalore, while taking a small break from my ashram routine in Puttaparthi. Would like to pass on to you all, that the mandir is quite wonderous. The vibes are peaceful and Baba’s vitality is still very much evident there. Morning bhajans, together with the vedas, brings much calm and healing to all those who gather. I am quite amazed as to how much more I enjoy the mandir now that the crowds are gone and the old circus-like atmosphere time has passed. Now we have, at last, many more mediators and others who come here just to be close to Baba on a non physical level. He did say, years ago, that ‘first the brown monkeys will come, then the red monkeys will come, then the worldly people, and lastly the spiritual people. I feel his prophecy in that regard is now complete.

I’ve found or rather re- found the writings of Charles Penn, who was an early devotee of Baba’s. Must say i am enjoying re-reading his meditation’s and have decided to post several here on the blog for those people who cannot visit Puttaparthi or buy the book. I am not even sure the book is still in print.

Charles Penn

This small piece is called “The Night of Sai-lence” – a very poetic piece written sometime in the 1960’s. As an early devotee, Charles Penn enjoyed a closeness to Baba that most of us could only dream of. This ‘writing’ comes from his book “My Beloved“.







The Night of Sai-lence – A Meditation

The lord’s divine temple in the heavens has existed in all of its’ majesty since the beginning of time.

Light from myriads of diamonds in all their brilliance brighten His sky where His lustrous pearl mirrors His gold orb. All are held together by His eternal night of Sailence, His kingdom, so vast, so splendid.god

Within His kingdom lives gods and goddesses created through His divine will, each manifested to His likeness for His joy. To them He gave brightness and He gave them darkness.

His Sailent night is deep, inspirational. It is then we can each become one with Him and He one with us. Sacrifice not even one of these Sailent nights, so filled with His sweet grace.

The nights that give us the chance to glorify Him and have Him open our divine heart to accept the love He showers upon us. Let us feel ourselves wafting freely in His playground where we may adore Him.

Wish not for the light of day to quicken for in it we become blinded to our real self. The ever-sweet Sailent night allows us to go deeper into our soul of souls to receive the stimulus of His awakening within. When we become one with Him, our countenance reveals the inner joy. With its radiance, we banish all fear. Never again can His presence be taken away. His light will burn forever more.

The Sailient night now awaits to caress us, to shower our path to Him with petals from the lotus that blossoms eternally. There within, we are what we truly are. Love. All of our yearnings end, for the wings of that love carry us ever forward to His greater heavens illumined by gems sending forth colours, reflecting from our eyes His wondrous light.

The earthly multitudes need weep no more, for their plight of day vanishes by night. The Sailent night is ours to seek the freedom we so long for in the light of day. As the night approaches, be eager for His hand to lead us to His kingdom. Let us be ever awake in the higher consciousness within, for that is the secret key to our beloved’s doorway to everlasting joy and freedom.






(Amazon Uk shows several used copies as
 title: My Beloved
 Author: Charles Penn
 Date: 1981
 Unknown Binding: 136 pages
 Publisher: Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (1981)
 Language: English
 ASIN: B0007C82QK)

Gold & Green Hall, The Story – More Sathya Sai Memories

Beautiful Reflection 

The year 2002, was the year of Golden days in my Life. I was assigned with responsibility supervising Gold fixing Job, in Kulwant hall, The Prashanthi Mandir and the Central Dome of super Specialty Hospital. Almost every day Swami used to visit the work site at noon, to inspect the work in progress. When the work was commenced, Bhagavan was spending the summer in Whitefield, Bangalore.

There are many square shaped boxes on the ceilings with ornate designs. We are to load gold on the designs and also to provide a suitable background colours. We made offers for choices of 8 boxes with 8 different colours, with pink, sky blue, Ivory colours etc. To make it 9 in all, we mixed few colours, which looked like “Green”. Swami drove down to Prashanthi Nilayam, to view the samples, and selected this particular mixed up colour.

Swami never uses Red, Yellow, Green, dark blue or any other dark colours, And yet this time this green was the Divine choice. Many elders in Puttaparthi were also wondering and making enquiries with us whether we heard Swami all right. Within a month after commencement of the job, Bhagavan shifted back to Prashanthi Nilayam. Since a massive work, involving over 300 plus artists were working, Swami decided to give evening darshan in Poornachandra Hall. Almost every day, around 1.30 PM Bhagavan will walk into the vacant Sai Kulwant Hall. While walking by the side of Bhagavan, Swami may call us and give directions, or make enquiries. At times small spiritual advises will also be given.

On a particular day, Bhagavan stopped in one place, and looking up on the ceiling asked me, “Do you like this colour?” I replied, “Yes, Swami we like it very much”. Swami then asked, “Do you know the reason why I suggested this colour?” Keeping my hand in “Namasthe” I told that it was Swami’s choice and we only follow the Divine guidance. Swami took hold of my hand, holding the ring I was wearing in my fingers, asked me. “Do you remember, what I told you when I gave you this ring?” I replied that I remember very well. Swami asked me to repeat it word-by-word.

I told, “Swami told me that this is an Emerald Ring. Emerald is for peace, and you need Peace!
Instantly holding the ring Swami spoke,

“Exactly. Thousands of devotees arrive here, with many problems. They have Money problem, child problem, Job problem, Health problem, Childrens’ education problems and likewise many many problems. I cannot go on giving Emerald rings for each and every one. What I have done? This is gold, and there is gold up there. This is emerald, and there is the emerald up in the ceiling. What I am doing is that I am transforming the entire Kulwant Hall into an emrald Hall. Whoever is sitting inside this hall are getting the shower of Divine rays of peace, even without their knowing.”
Swami further told,

“You fool, you should see that Bhagavan had done this for the sake of devotees; Not for the sake of Bhagavan Himself!!!”

Thus revealing this Divine Sankalpa, Swami lovingly patted on my cheek, and started moving away from the spot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 -from a Sai Friend Bombay Srinivasan

A Devotee Remembers Sri Yogananda – Yogananda

last smile


“In one sense, living with a great master like Paramhansa Yogananda was a normal experience. He was human like you or me. In another sense, though, it was not at all normal. I was always amazed in his presence, because he made us believe that we each had the potential to become like Jesus Christ. Even Jesus said, “That which I have done, you must do, and also greater things, as I must return to my Father!” All the masters have come, not to impress us with their greatness, but to give us faith in what we ourselves can become. It is the sounding board of a violin that allows its music to fill a concert hall. The strings alone barely make a sound. In the same way we all are part of a much greater reality which gives us strength. If you are swimming in the ocean, a large wave may approach you and threaten you. From the deck of a ship, however, you see many waves and they don’t seem so high. From an airplane, you do not even see the waves, just the ocean, which can resemble a calm mirror. In our lives we are preoccupied with the little things that affect the ego. It seems so important when someone says an unkind word to you, or when you lose a coveted opportunity. When you think not only of your little self, but of your greater Self – that reality of which we are all a part – you cannot imagine how much strength can come to you. I have read philosophy and theology books which tried to explain the miracles of Jesus, saying that they were not possible. Living with a master, I have seen with my own eyes that miracles are but little things to a master.

Yogananda performed many miracles without even letting them be known.

They were normal for him for the simple fact that we are all part of a cosmic energy. With this energy you can put yourself in tune with any ray of truth you wish and understand many things. For example, when I wrote a song for the Psalm of David, a Jewish friend told me, “I know that you’ve never been in a synagogue, but this is just the kind of music that a cantor sings in a synagogue.” How can we know these things? We are all part of the same reality. By meditation, and by the techniques that put you in tune with this vast truth, you begin to  understand how others think, and how to succeed in whatever you feel guided to do, in any field. Channeling does not mean calling with an  empty mind and demanding, “Please give me something!” That which you wish to channel comes from within you, not from others or from  information you have gathered. At university I took a course in Greek, but almost never went to class. The professor said, “For some  students here, it may not be worth their trouble to come to the exam.” Everyone turned to me and laughed. The night before the exam I  still hadn’t studied, and in my desperation I made a very important discovery: Instead of thinking, “But this Greek is too difficult,” I said to  myself, “I am a Greek!” With this thought it then became only a question of recognition. In this way I absorbed as much as my mind was  able to absorb that evening. As it turned out, only two students passed that exam and I was one of them – not for any special talent, but for  this principle.

Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I don’t want to hear any of my nuns say, ‘I am not a saint,’ because you have come here to become saints.” It’s true that you haven’t yet arrived at this goal, but that isn’t the important thing. Don’t hypnotize yourself with the mistakes you have made.  You are as much a child of God as any master who has ever lived. You have the capacity for infinite love. I saw that Yogananda was always  very serious about this. He saw in each of us the ability to become what he was. We’re hypnotized by the thought that we are weak, we are  too human, we are full of jealousy, full of pettiness – but this is not the truth. As a youth I had the desire to become a poet and playwright. I  sat down and wrote, “Page One, Chapter One…” and then…nothing. Finally I said to myself, “Why flood the world with my ignorance?” and I  left this ambition and decided to seek God and truth. When I meditated a little I saw that inspirations come so quickly that it is difficult even to hold onto them all, because they do not come from me but from another source. Yogananda taught us that we live surrounded by an ocean of energy. How do we attune ourselves with this energy, and how do we attract this energy? The great composers understand that they receive inspiration from a much greater source, while the not-so-great think that they create music with the mind. You can be original in creativity if you act from your center, from your heart. When a lover says, “I love you,” it is ever new, because it comes from the heart. Whatever you speak from your point of origin is original, even if the words have been used thousands of times before. Seek inside yourself the fountain of inspiration, and you will see that God expresses Himself in a new way through each person, each flower, each cloud.

There are two steps to follow: First, be aware of this fountain of inspiration, and then use will power to put it into action. Yogananda taught us exercises for recharging the body with energy, using willpower. I have seen many times that this energy is always available to be drawn upon. Once, I was building a house at Ananda’s first retreat. I needed to do a very difficult job with my hand. After 500 times I could not close my hand one more time. Then I thought that the snows of winter were about to arrive and it was necessary to finish the job. With this thought, and using Yogananda’s technique, I continued to work. After the tenth time, the work suddenly became easier, and I was able to continue another 500 times without difficulty. There is potential energy in each of us and, by use of the will, you will never get tired. This energy gives you great power. True strength is not merely physical, but is a strength that is moral and spiritual. Once, three men with guns approached Yogananda and told him to give them all his money. He responded, “Okay, I am not attached to money. But I have wealth you cannot take from me: You can have it only if I give it to you.” Yogananda then gazed at them with love and they started to tremble, saying, “We can no longer live the way we have been living. What have you done to us?” He changed their lives. More important than mere strength is an energy of love and joy. If you can go among people and share a little joy, this is the greatest gift you can give.



Yogananda gave us the possibility to understand that we can accomplish whatever we put our mind to. What we do is not important, but the spirit in which we do it is very important. You can give a sermon just walking down the street with a beautiful smile, saying nothing; or in the office writing a business letter. There is no need to say, ‘this is spiritual,’ or ‘that is not spiritual.’ Spirituality depends on your attitude.

You can be a lawyer, businessman, secretary, cook, nurse, waitress if you do it with the consciousness, “I offer my life to Him.” The moment  has come to sanctify the world, and the responsibility is yours. You need to change. Don’t think that you can leave religion to the priests: You are potentially a saint. Even if you were in hell, you would be a saint in hell. The essence of your soul is always pure. The Indian saint  Anandamoyi Ma was illiterate. However, she was so wise that whatever scholar came to ask her questions on the scriptures left amazed,  because what she said was so correct and deep. The more you go into your center, the more people will look at you and understand, “He has  found something that I also want.” Share that which you feel inside, but don’t pride yourself on it, because it comes from God. The path of  life is narrow. There is room for either the ego or for God to walk it; there is not room for both. Why not let God act through you? Afterward  you will feel a great joy and freedom. The thought will come, “How beautiful – I didn’t do it, God did it!” When you pray with sincerity to be a  hannel for God, He will give you many inspirations and will help you when someone comes to you with a problem. In my life, I have had to give personal advice for the last fifty years. Sometimes I will be asked a question to which I don’t know the answer. I then let the question go and respond, “I don’t know.” But in very act of saying I don’t know, I do know, as my mind is then relaxed and the inspiration comes to  me. Likewise, I never prepare a public talk, because I have seen that God knows better than I what to say. This has never failed: The inspiration has always come to me. When you launch yourself with faith and trust, He gives you wings. Gradually trying to fly, you will fly; and the more you do so, the more inspiration will come to you.

What you do should be rewarding; you should feel, “This is what I want to do with my life.” You will see that there is joy even in the little
things. God is found in every grain of sand. God is shining in you, and God can shine even more, the more you try to attune yourself to Him in inner silence.”

The Late Wilma Bronkey – Early Devotee

Dr. Wilma Bronkey passed away last thursday 10-7-10.


“I go to India to see Sai  and be with him, also because he told me to take the tours. The main thing is, when you are with Baba, to pay attention to what he says and to be the best you can be. Climb to your highest nature at all times. Do service and love God is what he tells us to do. Also let me tell you this,  when you visit Sai you will be transformed.  It may be a large transformation or a small one, but you will be transformed! Changed forever.”

Sweet Tales

Wilma Bronkey and her husband Ivan had visited Sai Baba for over forty years. They were there in the early days when physical closeness to Sai had been an easy affair. Here are some high-lights from her remarkable memories of being  with Sai Baba during the early days.

It all began one day during the late 1960’s when Wilma was looking after her children and doing her other work as a care worker at her home called Enchanted Acres. She began to smell a sweet unusual purfume much like vibuthi. This scent was all pervading and would come in waves through her house. She also began to receive intuitively messages from Sai Baba. One thing led to another and once she understood this was Sai’s calling card, she wanted to visit him in India. The only problem was she did not have enough money. Her fare alone would cost over 900 dollars and all she had in the bank was a  few dollars. Actually she only had 8 dollars in the bank. “Oh, I was so disappointed. I said to the lady in the bank, well I only wanted to know how much I had.” ” Wait a minute.” Said the cashier.”There was a deposit last night. A  gentlemen came into the bank that morning and asked me to make sure to deposit this amount into your account. Let’s check how much there is.” – The amount was for 900 dollars.. “Impossible!” I said to the cashier, “I did not put the money into the account.”  “But it is in your account.” The cashier said.  “A  little gentlemen in an orange robe came into the bank and he knew your bank number and he deposited the money into your account for you.” I added a little more to it and with that, I went to India for the first time.

Swami stood on my Feet

An interesting experience happened way back in those early days. In those days, we were allowed in the temple for darshan, we often had with us our cameras, tape recorders and other personal items. It was all so free in those days. I was about 4 or 5 rows back from the front. When I heard one of the men calling my name, telling me to go sit in the front. It was so quiet in the temple I was embarrassed by his demand. In the end though, I gave in and got up and made my way through the ladies all tightly seated together. It was a struggle but I managed it. I sat down again with all my belongings. Suddenly I had a bad case of charlie-horse that caused incredible pain in my legs. I was in agony. I stretched out my legs to help ease the pain. The problem was my legs were over the dividing line that was there on the floor to keep us on the devotee side, and a little way away from where Sai sat on his chair. I was in such pain I could not withdraw my legs up and away from the dividing line. Suddenly there was Swami. He glanced at me for what seems a long while, then proceeded to walk into the temple, whereupon he stepped on my feet! It was a pretty amazing thing to happen. The moment he stepped onto my feet, all the pain in my legs disappeared. I felt as if I’d been hit with an electric force so strong that it left me filled with energy. Every part of my body was charged with this current that came from him. It was a very strange thing. Something I have never been able to forget.

The Story Of Interview and the Rings

The people in my groups often asked Baba for a ring or a watch. He would gently ask them what they wanted and this need for a ring or watch is, often, all they desired. One lady said to Baba, after he’d asked her what she wanted. She answered I want a ring with my birth stone. Sai created a ring for the lady and placed it on her finger but it did not have a birth stone. The lady grew angry and said to Sai that as he had not given her a ring with her birth stone that she would not wear it nor would she visit again.  Of course this is not the right way to approach Sai. The right answer is to ask him for his love or his guidance. Some people don’t know what to say to the question, “What do you want?” They may answer Oh! Baba I don’t know. I only want you. These are the people who often have rings created for them. The rings are not given to give you some sort of decoration for your finger. It is a gift to aid your transformation. If you do not live up to Sai’s message, then the ring will be lost or will sort of bite your finger until you cannot wear it. The rings and gifts are tokens of his love to help you change. You must jolly well pay attention to his words or the gifts are just useless trashy items to show off to friends.

To me, Baba is the creator of the world – he is everything in my mind’s eyes. If you do not know him then my words will be hard for you to swallow and the stories I tell hard for you to imagine. God is in everything. In the trees, the blossoms. The sun that comes up in the morning, that is God. The fire that burns is also God. If you see water running, it is also God. God is the source of everything. So who is God, it is not ‘who’ is God, it is ‘what’ is God. I don’t care what you call your God, the source is the same, whatever name you like to give it. The essence of God, the power of God, the nature of God, whatever the name, is the same thing. You cannot change the nature of God. Names are many but the source is the same. Different people have different paths to God. Yet the destination is exactly the same. I love the soul of all people and all things. I don’t care what is your background, your culture, your nationality, I love all. I want to hug you whatever and whoever you are. I believe that we are all the same. We are all the same soul.

The Story Of The Dog,

There were a couple back in the early days who wanted Sai Baba to come and eat lunch with them. They went to darshan one day and asked Swami to come to lunch. They told him, “We really want you to come to lunch. We are so much waiting for you to visit our house.” Swami answered,  that he would come the very next day. They rushed home and cleaned the house thoroughly. The wife prepared the best foods for Sai on the morning of the expected visit.

They waited and waited but Sai did not come. Then suddenly a dog came into the house, his muddy paws left marks all over the dining room. The dog caused a mess and ate the food. The couple beat the dog  horribly, then kicked him out of the house.

The next day at darshan, the couple asked Swami,  why did he not come to lunch. They said, “We waited and waited but you did not come!” Swami answered, “I was at your house.”  The couple said, “No you were not.” Sai said, “Oh yes I did. I came to visit you but you beat me with a stick and you kicked me out of the house and you did not feed me.” This was the test for the couple that God has all forms.

Excerpt from a talk given by Wilma Bronkey during the early 2000’s

Finally a small tale of how Wilma, in an interview one year, looked straight into Sai Baba’s eyes, and what she saw was to remain with her the rest of her life. She saw  many worlds and realms, colours, and astral lights that she had not seen in this world. She says it was like looking into the infinite.

Om, A True Devotee – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

Om’s Amazing Story of Love and Courage – Child Of Light

Banning is not only something that happens to those physically close to Sai, it happens to others who are seated in the general public areas too. There are so many untold stories of seekers who were banned, never to return. Most do not hold a grudge, they still love Swami, although they are not allowed to be anywhere near him. I’d say they were Swami’s closest devotees…

This is the story of Om – an American who has lived in Puttparthi  for the last 30 or so years.

Om, the daughter of professor parents who taught in Ivy league colleges in the USA, speaks with a cultured American accent. She obviously had, at one time, enjoyed a very intellectual lifestyle and is herself a literati. How and why she came to visit Swami I have no idea. Came she did, and stayed. Her story is one of the most interesting ones in Sai Baba circles. Yet hardly a word has been written about her.

Om enjoyed the casual ashram at Whitefield way back in the 1970’s where she had many close experiences with Sathya Sai. Yet  sometime later on she was made persona non-grata. She was banned from entering all of Swami’s ashrams.

I remember her telling me some years ago that Sai Baba had told her at dashan one day that, although she was a graduate, and clever, he was going to change all that. He did. Once Om was banned from the ashrams, she was devastated. Swami had obviously done an ego-ectomy on her, now what to do next? She did not know. She visited Sri Ramana’s Ashram in Tamil Nadu for a time to think things over. She was, at the time, quite ill due to the banning enforcement. She did not function well at all; she was thought a little odd among Ramana devotees.

After reflecting her position while at Ramana’s ashram, Om made the decision to stay in India and to become a Sannyasin. She threw away her passport, clothes and all other possessions. She took to wearing a simple orange robe. After sometime she returned to Puttaparthi and began a life of total austerity.

I first noticed her on my second visit to P.N. ashram way back in the early 1990’s. She would stand outside the old darshan area, looking over the wall, watching Swami give darshan. I remember, even now, how a beautiful smile would flashed across her face whenever she saw him. Her dismissal had not soured her in the least. She was full of love for Baba. Besides her beautiful smile,  her face shone brightly whenever in the vicinity of the ashram.

It is only in more recent years we began to speak to each other. She often stops me when I am shopping in Puttaparthi. Om likes to comment on my clothes. This year’s encounter with Om was pretty strange. On this certain day before the shopping trip, I’d been looking in the mirror at my Salwar Kameez  for sometime before going out. It seemed not to fit well. I felt concerned about going out in this outfit.  By chance I ran into Om. She stopped me in the street. The first words she said, “Oh! I would love to give you a full length mirror so you can see how pretty that outfit is.” This made me laugh, due to  the concerns I had over this particular ‘outfit’.  Om, as always, was sparkling bright. Her eyes, great orbs of blue, appeared innocent and childlike. Yet,  Om’s life is not at all child like for she lives from day to day on very little. Often she is seen searching through rubbish for food.

Several years ago we had a long talk about her life in Puttparthi. She told me how she lived in one small room without even a fan. The room, she said,  in summer, was burning hot. By this time, Om had suffered many tropical illnesses. Also she suffered with her legs and feet. Today she walks with crutches, her once rich blondish hair is shaved.

One day I stopped to ask her why she stayed ?  ”Oh” she said, “I stay because that is my karma. I love Swami. I have given my life to him. I do not regret one single day here, despite the hardships.”

How does Om survive so many illnesses and hardships? I don’t know. She always appears to be positive and despite her illnesses, she manages to look after herself pretty well.

Last year, I remember, Swami coming out from the ashram in his car. Om was right there. He gave her a huge smile which she returned in no small measure.The local authorities recognize Om as being a Sannyasin. She is allowed to live in Puttaparthi without either passport or visa. I believe she is the only Westerner who can.

I feel sentimental towards Om.

Here’s a little ‘ode’ to her, honouring that huge leap of faith, and having the courage to believe in Swami for over 30 years of hardships and pain.

graphics – courtesy: Sai Art

Om here’s a poem for you.

“So I would choose to stay with you, if the choice was mine to make-

You can make decisions too, and you can have this heart to break.

And so it goes and so it goes.”

Good luck Om.

God wrote on the back of your heart to stay and love, and you did.

Ramana Maharshi Story – Arunachala Stories and Pilgrimages

When I look at this YouTube of Ramana , I see only love. His eyes fueled by the universe speak of love, gentleness and a great compelling compassion. I’ve visited Ramana Maharshi’s ashram many times and always I’ve found there a sense of him in the peacefulness of the surroundings and in nature. I have not visited in 15 years now – maybe it has changed. I hope not.


IN 1948, I WAS in my thirty-ninth year. I lived in Madras in a good
place, with my wife and four charming children. I was the Madras Branch
Manager of a large British firm with its Indian Head Office in Calcutta.
Being in happy circumstances, I did not feel the need for any religious
practices or spiritual inquiries. I was contented and enjoyed the
good life, accounting that as the purpose of living.

On an official tour with Inspector Parthasarathi, I was on the platform
of Villupuram Junction on a hot April day, waiting for the train to
Katpadi Junction. We were to visit Tiruvannamalai. While Parthasarathi
and I were getting into a first class compartment, we saw a young
man of about 25 years, trying to enter the same compartment through
the next door.

The man was so fat that he found great difficulty getting aboard.
He heaved his huge body this way and that, while another man on the
platform, obviously his servant, pushed him forward. The man was perspiring
profusely and looking ashamed at the curious way people, including
Parthasarathi and myself, watched his sorry state. He got in somehow,
and occupied the cubicle next to ours.

When the train had run for some minutes the man join us. He introduced
himself as Ratilal Premchand Shah and started talking about himself.
Ratilal was a Saurashtra Gujarati Vaishya, born and brought up in
Gondal. The only son of his father who was one of the richest merchants
of that city. He had been married for six years. Corpulent from his
tenth year, he had been unable to do anything useful since that age.
Now at 25, he was just a huge mass of fat and misery.

Ratilal had left school at the age of 12 after passing standard four
with great difficulty. He never read books or periodicals. In the
last week of March, Ratilal had a vision while asleep. He saw an ascetic
dressed in only a loin-cloth, smiling and beckoning to him for quite
some time. He stood clearly before Ratilal’s mental eye when he awoke.
Ratilal did not speak to anyone about the vision. Two days later,
his wife was reading a Gujarati magazine, and Ratial looking over
her shoulders, saw the picture of the ascetic he had seen in his vision.

His wife told him that the ascetic was Bhagavaan Ramana Maharshi of
Tiruvannamalai, and that the Maharshi possessed rare spiritual gifts.
Ratilal at once went to his father and arranged a journey to Tiruvannamalai
with the trusted family servant. He knew nothing about Bhagavaan,
only what his wife had told him from the magazine article. He felt
sure though that all of his suffering was going to end as soon as
he reached the Guru’s Ashram.

Parthasarathi said that he had Darshan of Bhagavaan many times and
also read a great deal of books about him. He assured Ratilal that
the lad’s faith would prove to be worthwhile. The two young men talked
all the way to Tiruvannamalai, which took more than two hours. I was
reading a novel, but was really listening intently to their conversation.
At Tiruvannamalai Station, Ratilal was received by a local merchant
with whom his father had arranged his stay. Parthasarathi and I proceeded
to the Travellers’ Bungalow.

It was four o.clock when we took our rest and had tiffin. Parthasarathi
knew that I was a business-like Manager, and not likely to waste a
single moment. He said we could visit the market, if I wanted to now,
and was very surprised when I said: “No, Parthasarathi! We will go
and have Darshan of Bhagavaan first. Then if there is time, we will
go to the temple. Let the Company’s business wait!”

It was about five o.clock when Parthasarathi and I entered Ramana’s
Ashram. Where we walked around Bhagavaan’s Mother’s samadhi. (grave)
Then we walked towards the verandah. There were some fifty people
sitting there. Ratilal, his servant and his host merchant were also
there. Bhagavaan though, was not. The visitors talked in whispers,
trying to find out where he was.

After waiting for some ten minutes, and still no Bhagavaan, Parthasarathi
suggested that we view the Ashram compound.
After our inspection, we were on the way back to the verandah by another
side, when we heard a childish voice, “Chee! Asaththe! (Chut! You
naughty!).” We could not see any children around, and therefore cast
our eyes carefully to find out where the voice came from? Then we
observed some movement among the leaves of the Bringal, and other
plants in the kitchen garden, aside the verandah’s end. Looking at
the quarter more intently, we saw a small goat, a little monkey and
a squirrel, and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi! He was sitting on his haunches
with his legs folded.

The goat nestled between Bhagavan’s knees; the monkey had its head
resting on his right knee; the squirrel sat perched on his left palm.
He picked ground nuts from a piece of paper with his right hand fingers,
and one by one fed the goat, the monkey and the squirrel, and himself
last, strictly in that order.

His remarks appeared to have been addressed to the monkey which had
tried to snatch the nut he was going to place between the squirrel’s
lips. As we watched, the foursome went on enjoying the nut meal. All
the four members seemed to be equally happy, and the way they looked
at one another and kept close together was very touching. The goat,
the monkey and the squirrel, and Bhagavan too, had obviously forgotten
their differences in species.

And we too, looking on, saw all the four only as four varied forms
of the same creation. I cannot find words to describe clearly the
thoughts and feeling which passed through my mind then. The vision
of the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness appeared as a flash of lightning,
and disappeared in the grossness that I was. The split second of the
duration of that vision contained the essence of all existence, knowledge
and bliss, Sat-Chid-Ananda!

The nut meal was over. Bhagavaan threw the paper away, and said, “Ponkoda!”
(go away, brats!) just like any common man speaking to his wee grand-children.
The goat the monkey and the squirrel left. Bhagavaan got up. Parthasarathi
and I slipped off hurriedly, feeling guilty of trespass into the Divine,
but not sorry.

Soon after we resumed our seats on the verandah, Bhagavaan came to
his cot. He stood still for a few minutes, facing us. But I cannot
say he looked at us. His eyes appeared permanently fixed on something
far above and beyond the confines of this earth. They did not seem
to be instruments for looking at all, but screens to shut out the
material world from him, so he might concentrate more on the Light
within. Sparks of flame shot out through the holes of the screen at
times, sparks which cooled the objects on which they fell, and penetrated
all the coverings of gross material around the objects and lighted
up the wicks of consciousness inside them.

All of us got up and fell at full length towards Bhagavaan. He held
up his right palm till we had resumed our seats. Then he sat on his
cot, reclining on the pile of cushions at its head, putting his left
palm to his temple. We sat and looked at his face. It wore the same
expression, or lack of expression, with which he had stood before
us. He continued to sit in the same position and with the same look;
we continued to look at him. No one spoke or made any attempt to speak.
But the confrontation was not a dead silence; it was a very live experience
in which the innermost being of each one of us communed with the Glory
of the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness which Bhgagavaan was.
I was numb with the appalling realisation that the Glory resting on
the cot was the same that had dwelt in the form of stillness, that
I had seen minutes ago, eating groundnuts in the intimate company
of small animals.


Bhagavaan got up from the cot. Then we all stood up. As we left, I
felt a strange and hitherto-unknown peace and joy inside me; the faces
of the others showed a similar condition of mind. There was a new
spring in Ratital’s gait as he walked to the Ashram gate; Bhagavaan’s
Grace had obviously started working inside his body.

Many things have happened to me since that memorable day in April
1948, causing domestic and financial troubles. But my inner life has
been always happy. Whenever I feel low, a vision of Bhagavaan in the
kitchen garden takes care of it.

In 1953, when I was in Rajkot, and employed as a Manager for an automobile
firm. One day, a man of about thirty came into my office and accosted
me with the question, “Don’t you recognise me, Sir?” “No, please,”
I replied, truthfully. The man continued: “I am Ratilal of Gondal,
Sir! Do you remember the Darshan of Bhagavaan Ramana Maharshi five
years ago?” I looked more attentively at the man. He was lean and
wiry, with his face aglow with health and happiness. I shook his hands
heartily and told him to be seated.

He complied and said: “Sir, Bhagavaan fulfilled his promise wonderfully
well. You see me. I am now managing our family business. I have a
son and another is on the way.” Ratilal closed his eyes in gratitude
to Bhagavaan. I too, closed my eyes, and relived that wonderful day.

Submitted by Mrs. M. Manwering, Cheshire.

Sai Feeds Sai Gita – Early Devotees – Birgitte Rodriguez

Birgitte Rodriguez tells many little titillating tales in her book ‘Glimpses of the Divine’. One of those tales is as follows: (This is a shortened version of her story told in my words.)

“Nearing the place where Sai Gita is kept, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Swami was en- route to feed her.

I was breathless as I approached the spot where the keeper had saved for me. How had the keeper known Swami would stop there that day? Apparently he had good intuition about Swami’s comings and goings. He nudged me, to draw my attention to my camera that now hung unforgotten around my neck. This was a really good chance to see both Sai Baba and Sai Gita together, also a good chance for a wonderful photograph to keep of the memory. Soon Swami’s  red car approached. The car door opened and Swami stepped out. Walking several steps toward Gita, he reached out and put his arms around her trunk and gave her a huge hug. Gita closed her eyes in ecstasy. Swami then took the bananas and fed them one by one to Gita, stroking her trunk as she ate.  He did not stay long but the event was so special, that I will never forget it and I have a photograph to keep forever.

I often wondered what silent conversation went on between Swami and Sai Gita. Whatever interchange there was, it certainly had to be a glorious one. The love that passed between them at that feeding was obvious.

-retold from ‘Glimpses of the Divine’