When the Guru Is Gone – Sathya Sai Baba

Offering of Flowers To Sathya Sai Baba

What happens, then, when the guru dies or goes away? How do disciples cope with the absence of the one whose living and loving presence has opened for them the door to their own heart, the one through whom all reality has been filtered, and their own self understood? The disciples of Jesus, Palestinian Jews living at the beginning of the Common Era, and the disciples of the Indian Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, both Indians and Americans in 1970’s India, were both forced to negotiate the absence of the guru. These two groups of devotees,  separated by almost 2,000 years in time and more than 2,500 miles, in land mass, inhabited very different cultures. They told stories about their gurus that help us understand the evolving meaning of the body of the guru—both in its presence and its absence. It is an interesting tale of sameness.

In looking at what devotees have chosen to recall we come to see what the disciple community finds destabilizing in the guru’s physical absence as well as how that absence can be overcome; how the pain of loss of the “non-dual reciprocity” of guru and disciple is eventually transcended through a new understanding of the body of the guru. A process that many people face today while  recovering from the loss of Sathya Sai Baba, who many worshipped and adored.

In the Absence of the Body: Discipleship When the Guru Has Gone

 

An ancient axiom holds that when the disciple is ready, the guru will appear.  Much less is said about what happens when the guru disappears—and for this, disciples are rarely ready.  It is often a more traumatic event than the death of a parent or spouse or child, because the relationship between disciple and guru is of a different nature than relationships with parents, lovers, friends, or one’s own children.  While all these relationships can involve deep and selfless love, the love of the guru (in both the genitive and objective sense) becomes the lens through which the disciple understands the self, the other, and the world. And at least initially, the locus of this love is the bodily presence of the guru.

The guru not only shows the way, but is that very way.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is how Jesus’ disciples remembered him.

Abhishiktānanda, a modern Roman Catholic monk initiated into Indian advaita by his guru, Gnānānanda, writes that “Guru and disciple form a dyad, a pair, whose two components call for each other and belong together.  No more than the two poles (of a magnet) can they exist without being related to each other.  On the way towards unity they are a dyad.  In the ultimate realization they are a non-dual reciprocity.”

 

How and Why We Remember

Gospel scholars talk about the “messianic secret” that describes how Jesus in the Gospels tells his disciples not to talk about his deeds of power or identity as the Christ, but to keep these things silent. Scholars often interpret this “secret” as a literary device (especially in Mark) employed to explain why, if Jesus was working all the wonders reported in the narrative, all of Israel did not come to believe in him, or at least know of him in his lifetime.3

In collecting the early stories of Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass encountered a modern corollary of the messianic secret. He writes that it took a number of years for Neem Karoli Baba’s Indian disciples to openly share their stories of Maharajji (as Neem Karoli Baba was known) due to his own directive that he should not be spoken about to others. There are stories of Maharajji ordering the burning of a collection of stories about him and of his tearing up a manuscript of an article on him. Neem Karoli, much like Jesus, ordered those who witnessed miracles effected by or through him never to speak of them. In the case of Neem Karoli Baba, this reticence is certainly not a literary device. Can it be that for Jesus, too, the “messianic secret” was real—and not a device of the Gospel authors?

We have similar instances of both teachers rebuking those who would compliment or draw attention to them. When his contemporary, Deoria Baba, said that Neem Karoli was an incarnation of love, Maharaji responded, “Why, that wicked man! What does he know? Who does he think he is?” Jesus, when called “good teacher” by an inquiring outsider, answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Both of them were opposed having their deeds recorded, and yet their disciples felt the need to do so when they were gone.

Both maharaj and Jesus often complained that their disciples did not truly understand their message, or even who they were. Yet, in spite of the guru’s admonitions, the community of disciples feels responsible for interpreting him to one another after his disappearance, and for preserving/creating a body of material through which the guru will become known by others. The gathering together of such stories offers those who experienced them a way to process the events of the past and gives new generations the possibility of experiencing an awakening similar to that of those who lived in the presence of the guru. In theological language this is called anamnesis, a remembering that makes real in the present the being or event that is being recalled. Anamnesis is one attempt at making the disappeared body of the guru present again.

Now we have the same with Sathya Sai Baba, while alive he complained that his followers failed to understand him. He called himself an enigma, one who could not be known. His passing six years ago, came as a surprise to his community and left them in shock. How did they deal with his passing? On the surface, not very well. While some carried on just as before, holding on to their past habits and routines they had build up during their time with the guru, others floundered. Many left to find another guru or to find solace in a former student and imposter.  Although, I feel that a certain Anamnesis has taken place and the steadfast following will overcome the humbug following, in making  the guru’s Temple and Ashram, the guru himself.

 

Excerpted from Parabola: Where Spiritual Traditions Meet, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2012).

 By James H. Reho 

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The key is in understanding that the physical body is only an instrument of the divine. It is not forever. What was it that Sathya Sai Baba said so well ? “You are not the body.” “Drop all attachments to the body and its desires.”  I feel that includes all physical attachment to Sai Baba’s form also. ~  More importantly He said and I quote:  “At first, name and form are essential, that is the reason why Avatars come, so that God can be loved, adored, worshiped, listened to and followed, and finally realized as nameless and formless.” And to end on a happy note, a beautiful video of darshan with Swami to the huanting music of Secret Garden.  

The Stange Case of Madhusudan of Muddenahalli – Faith – Video

 

looking out over the darshan area, from the Mandir
looking out over the darshan area.

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Recent video of the Muddenahalli group enjoying holidays. Interesting footage.

 

 

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Madhusudan taking letters from people gathered in Muddenahalli 

exactly in the manner of the original Sai Baba

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“Oh, what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive!”

A follow up on the Muddenahalli Team – two years on.

Curiouser and curiouser is the case study of Madhusudan Rao Naidu, the former student of Sathya Sai Baba and later colleague and friend to Mr. N. Murthy. Several years ago I wrote about the beginnings of the “Light-Body” phenomena, when it first became known to the public at large. I have never been able to quite understand how, at first, we were told stories that Mr. N. Murthy,  through dreams, was able to communicate with Sai Baba and to carry on the mission of Sathya Sai in a way most extraordinaire and beyond our ken! The whole idea that Sai Baba would be interested in carrying on a worldly sojourn from the astral planes just did not make sense to me. However, Mr. N. Murthy, decided he was the chosen one to take the Sai Baba mission forward and he explained why in detail, through a Souljourns video talk posted on line.  He spoke at length to Ted Henry about his amazing mission – for those of you  interested,  I have reposted it here.

Later the former student, Madhusudan came on the scene and proclaimed he was actually the one and only person to hear and see the “Light-body.”  (The astral Sai Baba)   and proclaimed himself to be the medium or “instrument” for the deceased Avatar! This caused many devotees to gather round him and pay homage at his feet,  or rather to the unseen Sai Baba who was readily available to Madhu – at least in his own mind!   The chosen venue for the darshans being Muddenahalli, the fourth branch of the Sri Sathya Sai University way up in the Nandi Hills.  I am not sure that  Madhusudan can actually cope with so many former devotees of the living Sai Baba now gathering  at his  feet, or to grant copious blessings and give Godly advice together with the odd trinket or two that he can now manifest – just like magic!

After the group’s Kodaikanal visit during May 2014, the show and Madhu, the impish raconteur,  was up and going and in full swing. The senior group with  Madhu, were off on travels to far flung places, while picking up handsome donations from some of the richest followers of the original Sai Baba. I have to think how must life  be for this youngish man upon whom, everything depends?  He is responsible for a host of grief-stricken Sai Baba “hangers on” and is also responsible for the building/s of a new Sai Ashram in Muddenahalli as well as  grandiose building projects for the future – among them,  no less, a casino and a hospital in Miss. USA!  Can he still be sane with so much depending on his dubious connection to the “unseen and unheard deceased Sai Baba?” Or has he, in his own mind, morphed into a self-styled God man while using the original Sai Baba name also mimicking his mannerisms? I cannot say. I only know that Madhu is carrying the world on his shoulders and I wonder if he can stay the course without some mishap or two.

Probably by now, he has convinced himself that he is indeed a very special personage, the chosen one to carry on Sai Baba’s mission here on earth. I am beginning to feel “sad” for Madhusudan, the  “Sukshema Baba”  who has so much depending on his continuing performances to convince people that he is indeed in deep communication with Sai Baba, who has afterall, now been gone five years. Notwithstanding that the Sai world at large is scrutinising his every move and just waiting to jump on his case, when the vibuthi runs low and the luck turns thin.

Just recently Madhu and his group visited Nigeria as guests of a wealthy follower of their cult.  By all accounts posted on the internet, they were detained and questioned  by the police about their activities and were then promptly deported. I am not sure they actually were deported, although that is the story one reads from the Sai Org. letter posted on line and the newspaper article that appeared shortly after. ( Both can be found on line.)  I am not going into the full details of the offical letter or the constant flow of claims and counter-claims on both sides of the Sai movement, whether this is true or not. I  would rather not be part of that. I actually don’t want to be part of anything or any movement other than be by myself nowadays.  Still, I do have to wonder how long Sadu Madhu will be able to stand the pressure of being a self-styled Godman  – to be the  provider of solace, substance and miraculous boons  to all who need a surrogate guru  for the now dead Sathya Sai Baba.

My original post from May 2014 – “Speaking of Sathya Sai Baba’s Light Body”

 

https://saibabathepurnaavatarandi.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/muddenahalli-fraud-and-scam-talk-by-leonardo-pablo-gutter/

https://sathyasaimemories.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/speaking-of-sathya-sai-babas-light-body-more-sathya-sai-memories/

 

http://www.news18.com/news/india/ahead-of-sathya-sai-babas-90th-birthday-karnataka-man-claims-he-is-babas-reincarnation-1167669.html

 

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Speaking of the  Astral World –

The  Rudolf Steiner link I meant to provide is very hard to understand and long to read. I have instead, re-written the one paragraph that stands out.

The  astral being or the  soul of the deceased – on reaching the higher realms does not interfere or mingle with souls on Earth, unless in the case of possession or are earth bound.  There are cases where a medium might contact a spirit, often one not on the highest levels, to give messages to their relations of survival of death. However, these links are not ever strong and can only be sustained for a very short time. The energy of the medium  or instrument and that of the astral soul, would not vibrate for long on the same frequency. That is just not possible. There are laws that govern the universe and for those who are complicit to using them for occult reasons, they are unable to do so at will. The boundaries between the Earthly  realm and other higher realms are overseen by the universal laws. (The angels of Light.) Thus, the many types of  energies, (the earthly souls and the astral souls,)  cannot co-exist for long, due to the energy and vibrations of those on the light realms being very different from ours on Earth. thank you.

 

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“I call those ready to see me; of course, there are different levels of readiness!!” ~ Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi

 

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A Flicker Of Faith, Ram Dass – Early Sai Baba Devotees

 

 

How I remember Swami
How I remember Swami

 

Touching report from Ram Dass on his meeting Sai Baba back in those early days of the 1960’s. He tells us here how Baba created a ring for him. He tells us the ring was obviously man-made and come from the Sai Stores. We all remember the Sai Stores and the bits and bobs Baba would gather from there and give to devotees, just to encourage faith. Of course many say, he was wrong to do this, but he never made any secret that this was all “tinsel and trash” compared to what he really wanted to give, that was his love to change our hearts around.

 

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vibuthi

 

Flicker of Faith

Posted January 15, 2016

In India there was a very beautiful saint, Sathya Sai Baba, where you could go twice a day everyday and stand in his courtyard. He was a very high spiritual being. He would come out beautifully, just flowing and he would look at someone and say, “You have very bad dysentery.” Then he put out his hand, someone else holding out a piece of paper, and about a foot above his hand dust comes out of the air, verbouti or sacred ash. It comes right out of the air and falls onto the piece of paper. He folds it up and gives it to the person saying, “Here, put a little of this in your mouth everyday, and you will get rid of your dysentery.”

When I was there, as I was sitting at his feet and he was sitting on a chair, he said to me, ‘“Here Ram Dass, I’ll give you something.” and I said, ‘No Babaji, I don’t want anything.’ “No, no, let me give you something.” He held out his hand, and I knew he did things like this, manifest small things like bracelets, watches, small things like that. As a social scientist, responsible to the West, my eyes were going to watch his hand closely, I wasn’t going to blink. As I watched, a bluish light formed on the top of his hand, a flickering light, and it became more and more solid, and then it became a little medallion. It was a little circle a star on it with a little gold image of himself, Sathya Sai Baba. He gave it to me, it was definitely man-made, it did not have an astral quality to it at all. Later I asked a Swami there, “How does he do that?” And he said, “Well, he doesn’t make those; he just moves them from his warehouse with his mind.” And you can just imagine his warehouse, full of these little medallions, and if you were in the warehouse, they’d be disappearing from the shelves, literally.”

Here is a being who is far beyond all of this physical stuff, and it is very interesting what miracles do for most people who are ready to see them. They give a flicker of faith in the possibility that things aren’t the way that you thought they were.

This makes you open to the Spirit. For those who are not ready, it just makes them worship the person performing the miracle, because miracles are not the thing itself. Miracles have the power to give you faith through your rational mind and senses because your rational mind and senses can’t do the miracle, so it gives you faith that there’s some other reality. It opens you to it.

-Ram Dass

 

God Alone Is Real, Al Drucker – Early Devotees

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Here’s an interesting article from Al Drucker recently published on his website. (link provided.) I will provide more information on this post at a later date when I have the time. I am still away in India, this being my last week. I found here at the ashram as always, a sublime peace that  permeated everything, and everywhere. The vibes in the Mandir, hall and surrounding area remain as blissful as ever.


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The Highest Teachings of the Non-dual Vedanta

God alone is real. Besides the One God (who is also known as Brahman or Atma) nothing else exists. A world without God is utter illusion. Such a world can never exist. From the standpoint of Reality, a God-less world is nothing. No matter how real it may appear, it is totally illusory, a momentary perturbation in Eternity, signifying nothing.

On the other hand, when you see the world and yourself as firmly implanted in God Awareness, vitalized and governed by God Presence, your perception radically changes. As you become filled with God you become subsumed in God, and you, as you previously knew yourself within, disappear. Though you may continue for a time as a body, your separate identity as an individual in the world dissolves, and you shine forth as the unchanging God Awareness, the one universal person masquerading as the many.

As long as you live your whole life in the deluded state of separation, unaware of your non-dual Reality, you will see a world of variety, a world of many separate objects, countless beings and things outside of you. In your curiosity you ask the question, “Who created all this multiplicity, who caused this world of variety to spring forth?” You will hear stories of creation which attempt to answer that, and they may satisfy you for a moment. But they cannot give an enduring, believable, uncontroversial answer to your question. Why? Because your question makes no sense! Your question, “Who created all this variety?” is meaningless – precisely because there never was, is, or will be, any multiplicity in Truth. No being, force, circumstance or accident, produced a world of multiplicity. How could it have arisen? Where would it have come from?

The most likely candidate to spin out such a separative world is the egoic, dream-making wizardry of the human mind! But, despite its creation stories, multiplicity can never occur. The One remains as One. It’s just that you mistook It and spun it into the many.

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God, the Supreme Reality, did not change into a relative world, just as at dusk, a rope lying on the path did not suddenly change into a snake. In the twilight, you imagine the rope to be a frightful snake, and convince yourself the snake is really there, threatening you. But the rope is still a rope, and remains a rope. It’s just that you mistook it to be a snake.

In a similar way, God is God forever, but your ignorance of this fact made you see God as a world of many. In your deluded perception, you look on the One God, but unable to identify It, you concoct an illusory world in which you unknowingly label God by all the myriad worldly names and forms that you give meaning to. You believe all these to be real, but they are unreal, for no separate objects can exist in Reality. Only God exists.

You think you see an objective world outside of you, but there is nothing outside of you. What you see is always only what you yourself made up and projected to appear to be outside. Wherever you look, you always see only yourself. You see either your True Self, which is one with God, or your false self, which appears in the form of the objects and beings of the illusory world of separation. This latter path, driven by false perceptions, will keep you bound.

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Don’t subject yourself to that suffering! Correct your vision! Remove your delusion! Focus and dwell on God, who alone is real!

The world stands on one leg, Maya, namely, illusion. Kick down that leg and the whole world falls. Maya is not real. It is nothing. It disappears when you give it no further support and stop feeding it with your energy and belief.

You now experience the absence of this multiplicity, the disappearance of this world based on illusion, every day in deep sleep. But when you return to waking consciousness you do not hold on to that experience. That is a great tragedy! When you are deep asleep, what happens to your world? Where does all that multiplicity disappear to? What is the source of joy that sound sleep brings? Deep sleep keeps a tiny trace of the ego as a seed, a memento of the false world. When you awaken, you grab hold of that seed, and the next instant you again find yourself to be the same deluded individual you were before you fell asleep, again pestered by creatures of your own fantasies, imaginary boogeyman that you yourself made up!

Sathya Sai baba as I remember him
Sathya Sai Baba as I remember him

Sai Baba said, “I often tell you not to identify me with just this particular physical build-up; but you do not understand. You call me by only one name and believe I have only one form. But, there is no name I do not bear and there is no form that is not mine. And what is true for me is equally true for you.

You are God, you are the Atma, you are the One Self. You are not this temporary body or the separate personality it has identified with in the world. You are not an individual in a world of illusion. Correct your perception. It is said, ‘Dust if you think, dust you are; God if you think, God you are.’ Be the God you truly are! Nothing is ever outside of you. You, your Self, are God! Realize It and be happy!

– Based on a talk given by Sai Baba 11/24/62, and expanded on by Al Drucker, 4/1/15

Last Days On The Verandah

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For Sai Baba devotees and friends, here are two of the very last photos taken of Darshan on  the verandah. It’s sad to see Sai looking so unwell. Still, even in those last days, his  light and  peace, prevailed.

I see several Puttaparthi shop-keepers in the photo. Odd really,when so many overseas visitors were driven to the back like  “old forsaken donkeys.”  It looks like ‘a whole lot of shufflin’ was going on. But I’m sure the “Cosmic Play” was unfolding just as it should.

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Here’s  a less known quotation from  “Vihini,” you may enjoy.

“The age span 16-30 is crucial, for that is the period when life adds sweetness to itself, when talents, skills, and attitudes are accumulated, sublimated and sanctified. If the tonic of unselfish Seva is administered to the mind during this period, life’s mission is fulfilled – for the process of sublimation and sanctification will be hastened by this tonic. Do not serve for the sake of reward, attracting attention, or earning gratitude, or from a sense of pride at your own superiority in skill, wealth, status, or authority. Serve because you are urged by love. When you succeed, ascribe the success to the Grace of God, who urged you on, as Love within you. When you fail, ascribe the failure to your own inadequacy or ignorance.”   -Baba-

 

Observation:

Baba: “I will live until 96 years.”

Pondering on the meaning, I remember during my visit last year  in the Darshan area there was the very same vibration, although more subdued to that of the days preceding Baba’s demise.  My belief is that most likely the present vibration, will remain until the anniversary of his 96th birthday. Then will dissipate gradually.  

Brahman Alone is Real – Early Devotees

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Thoughts are boomerangs, returning with precision to their source. Choose wisely which ones you throw. ~ Author Unknown ~

Brahman Alone Is Real

Do believe that there can be anything other than Brahman (the eternal Absolute), is sheer ignorance. This ignorance is the cause of every possible sorrow. But ignorance is not real. In fact, every teaching and every sadhana (spiritual practice) deals only with dream activities, which, ultimately, are just illusory mind concoctions. In Truth, every being is already free and forever remains free, equal to Brahman in every way and not different from Brahman in any way. There is neither bondage nor ignorance which must be removed, or can be removed by spiritual practice. Every teaching and every sadhana is just a dream effort, much like taking dream water to slake dream thirst. Its purpose within the dream is to remove the mistaken notion which obsesses the dream character, that he is anything other than the ever-pure and unchanging Brahman. Sadhana dehypnotizes him from the hypnotic idea that there can ever be anything other than Brahman, that there can be a world or individuals that are real. But separate individuals are not real and were never real.

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 All efforts and teachings within the dream have relative value only for relative beings. They have no real value in Truth, because the ever-free, ever-awake Atma (the true Self) is not affected by any dream effort, and the illusory, asleep, dream character will not transcend the dream as a result of it. Along with the awakening, when it plays out within a dream of awakening, the story takes on the character of spiritual awareness and spiritual effort. In such a dream, awakening and sadhana are linked to each other, with sadhana appearing to be the cause of the awakening. But in Reality there is no such connection, because these activities have no real existence, and therefore, nothing is happening. It is just that in the story playing out within the dream, the heightened spiritual effort and awareness engaged in by the individual appear to be the cause of awakening. But, though sadhana and awakening seem to be related, they are much like a crow landing on a coconut palm just as a coconut happens to fall. There is no causal connection between them. They are coincidental happenings within an illusory story, appearing to be causally related.

 In Reality neither sadhana nor awakening has any effect or any meaning. There is ever only one meaning to everything, and that is Brahman. Reality has nothing to do with dreams of awakening, or of individuals and their experiences, or of a world in which they exist separate from Brahman. Reality is Brahman alone. There is nothing else. Brahman is not the cause of anything. It does not create. It does not transform Itself into unreality. It does not become something else. It ever is all there is. Illusory dreams may play out for a moment, appear and disappear like passing clouds. You may believe you are an individual and that you and others inhabit a world extending all around you. But that is total delusion. It cannot be. All there ever is is Brahman and only Brahman. It alone is who you are. It is the One Self, the Atma, which is another name for Brahman, and therefore, exactly the same as Brahman. Atma has nothing at all to do with individuals, bodies, minds, or circumstances. It is you, the real you. You cannot not be It. You cannot be anything else. You were never born. You’ll never die. You remain as Brahman alone. Unchanging. Unchangeable. And that is all there is. Ever.

Many thanks to  Al Drucker’s summary of commentaries by Shankara, Gaudapada and Nikhilananda on the Mandukya Upanishad:

Swami the Driver – Early Devotees

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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

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