Memories Of Swami Sai Baba For Christmas Week

 

Swami

The fire of Wisdom has the power to transform anything. Does not a piece of black coal when subjected to fire lose its natural form, and take the form of a piece of burning ember? Similarly, though God’s flames of compassion are cool, once they blend with the flames of bhakti, the heat thereby generated increases. Fire is born from water, which is a medium used to put down fire. The reason is when the water flows incessantly in circular motion, it generates a new power that we call electricity. Similarly when we think of the name of God and repeat it incessantly, power is generated from the friction. This is the essence. To procure that essence, practice is necessary for that practice, God’s name is the basis. ~Baba

 

Whether one remains in the affairs of the world (samsaara) or renounces it thinking that everything depends on God’s will,  and offers everything to God and performs one’s karma, there is nothing one can do beyond this.  Just as the quantity of bread depends on the quantity of flour, so is it  jnana of the divine realm that one attains, and  depends on the devotion (bhakthi) that one has gained. It is an act of insanity to search for jnana in a place where there is no dedication or true worship to God. Undeterred faith is essential for God to reveal himself. Undeterred faith in chanting His name and is essential for the revelation of God. Discriminate between the permanent and the transient. To kill others, one may require swords and spears, but to kill oneself –  is not a small needle enough? In order to preach to others, one has to study many scriptures (shastras) in order to attain revelation of God; repetition of a single mantra is enough.  ~Baba   from the book Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana

 

 


The old darshan area in the sand.
The old darshan area in the sand.

 

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On Communicators:   Swami knew everyone  gathered close to him. He was aware of every feeling they carried in their hearts. Every sad thought. Every moment we cried or laughed. No matter what our moods  joyous or angry, he was fully aware. He knew our doubts and in his own way often addressed them. There was nothing he did not know about us, wherever we sat for darshan. Darshan could not only be felt in the mandir in Puttaparthi but also when we were away in Bangalore, or even thousands of miles away from him, at home. I had my last darshan at home on 24th November, 2010. Swami never needed help in any way from a communicator/medium. How can we even entertain the thought that he would! He used to, when alive,  speak directly to people or sometimes he used telepathy when he wanted to convey guidance or help. He is no diffent in that regard,  than all the other saints, sages, avatars who have come before.

 

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Following on from my previous post, The Old Mandir – Puttaparthi, here’s several more memorable photos and quotes posted above. The quotations come from the book Sathya Sai Sath Sambhashana. The book was published a few years ago, although its not sold in Puttaparthi as far as I know. The entire took is an authentic translation of Swami’s words written originally in his native Telugu,  then translated “precisely” into the English language. Although at first glance, the words and sentences are not easily understood by English speakers, due to the phrasing used at the time the book was translated.  But the book is all Swami. From my point of view, the simple and beautiful translation is more meaningful than many other translations of his collective works to date.

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Here’s Sai Baba chanting the Gayatri Mantra in his soft beautiful voice. This You Tube is certainly worth watching. I remember being in darhsan many times while Swami or someone else chanted the mantra. I also have to thank Baba for being instrumental in my learning it. I remember one particular time in Brindavan, where all I could do was chant the “Gayatri” quietly to myself. I suspected at some level, Sai was prompting me to learn and recite it. I am so glad he did. Sai Ram

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Old Mandir – Puttaparthi – History and Photographs

 

Photos and You Tube from Old Mandir-Puttaparthi page on Face book with thanks. People interested in the early years of the Sai Baba’s journey, might like to visit the page so lovingly set up with all details of that time including a wealth of very old photographs.  During my stay in Puttaparthi in 1992, I visited the Old Mandir once or twice and was thoroughly delighted by the way it had been kept faithfully to those early days. Sadly a few years later they demolished the old Mandir to replace it with the modern one we see there today. I wish they had not ruined such a priceless piece of spiritual history, that would have been of such interest today, especially  to a new generation of young people who never knew Sai Baba.

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my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.
my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.

 

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A day at the Old Mandir-1

During those days there were no rituals like omkaram,suprabhatam or nagarasankirtan. Swami was everything for devotees. At 3 AM one could hear farmers going to their fields, singing folk songs. That was the Omkaram for devotees those days. At 5 AM one could hear milk vendors saying ,”Please buy my curd, milk and flowers”. This was the suprabhatam for devotees. In any case they had to get up by daybreak.

At dawn, Swami would rise, wash himself and drink the hot beverage devotees offered to him, and move happily with them and talk to them also. At 9 Am devotees would offer him the breakfast they would have prepared. Swami would taste a bit from each, joke a bit and offer the same as prasadam for everyone.

After breakfast, anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair in the Old Mandir which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

Devotees would then offer harathi to Swami and everyone would do padanamaskar. While doing padapuja, Swami would ask devotees to sing with devotion, instead of mechanically.

Bhajans would start at 11 AM. There was no regular bhajans those days…..just long songs. Any person could sing during bhajans. Swami would sit on that red stone and also sing. The hall was very small and men and women sat on either side. Some men sat behind Swami fanning him. Despite that, Swami’s robe would be soaked wet due to the scorching heat. At the end of the session, Swami himself would do harathi to please his devotees and then distribute prasadam to everyone.

At 1 pm, everyone would assemble for lunch. Swami would take a little food from everybody, mix it, eat a little and distribute the rest as prasadam. Later he would rest for a while. Even in those days Swami never took sweets, ghee, milk or curds. When pressed for a reason, Swami said he had had enough during Krishnavatar.

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the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir
the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir

 

THE GIFT DEED JULY-25 1945

When Subbamma heard of this offer, she quickly moved to invite Swami to move into a small hut on land owned by the Karnam family on the other side of the river.

Kamalamma then went to the ailing Subbamma and told her that their husband had planned to build a temple for the poor, but had died before he could get it built.

They agreed the land set aside for this could be given to Swami for his own use and the use of his devotees. A document writer was called and a deed of sale was drawn up. Next day, Kamalamma went to Bukkapatnam to have the deed registered.Swami went with her upto Chitravathi River. It was 25 July 1945.

Karanam Subbamma and Karanam Kamalamma gifted the land in presence of two witnesses.

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The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.
The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.

 

 

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PADAPUJA

In the Old Mandir anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

When Swami went to the homes of devotees it was done with great reverence and devotion.

In Venkatagiri Padapuja was an elaborate ritual.They used to place Swami’s feet ina golden plate and wash them with rose water.Then sandlewood would be applied to his feet followed by kumkum.All this with the strains of music from the singers Raman and laxmanan.

When we were students we had our own version of Padapuja.We called it Padaseva.We would take turns massaging Swami’s feet in the interview room when we got the chance.

Once Swami was sitting with some of His students in the interview room and all the boys had the great opportunity to press Swami’s Feet. And Swami asked this question, what is Pada Pooja?

One of the boys seated next to Him said, Swami what we are doing is Pada Pooja.

Swami said, No, no… this is not Pada Pooja. And then someone had a little higher understanding of telling Swami – in fact our tears of gratitude are like ‘Toyam’ and ‘Patram’ and the Phalam are all our merits and demerits that we offer at Your Lotus Feet.

You know He wanted to give a little better understanding and Swami said no, no, no.

Swami went on to say that true Pada Pooja is when the Lord in human form leaves His Footprints – to walk in His Footprints.

 

 

The Sathyabhama temple in the early years
The Sathyabhama temple in the early years

 

 

Sai Baba as a young man -
Sai Baba as a young man –

 

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During the foundation-stone ceremony of the Old Mandir a very strange incident occured.

When the servant, Gooni Venkata (Venkata with the hump) , dug at the spot indicated by Swami , so that consecrated stones could be laid as foundation, a large number of stone bases used as stands for lingams were discovered.

But strangely enough, no lingams could be found, though a vigorous search was made. Dozens of bases – but not a single lingam.

People gathered round Swami and sought the answer.

Swami told them, pointing a finger at his stomach, “The lingams are all here.”.

The first Lingodbhavam – 1947

This was the first time Swami manifested a Shiva Lingam.

There were less than a dozen devotees gathered at Puttaparthi on this auspicious day.

Swami was adorned in white and sat upright in his chair drinking plenty of water.

A swelling in his stomach was evident.

The ‘swelling’ moved up and emerged out of His mouth in time, as a Lingam.

Old photos of Sathya Sai baba - Old Mandir
Old photos of Sathya Sai baba – Old Mandir

 

Darshan on the men's side, Puttaparthi Ashram
Darshan on the men’s side, Puttaparthi Ashram – before the new huge Sai Kalwant Hall was built

 

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“Today scientists are trying to understand this power of attraction in
Nature. Take, for instance, a temple. Thousands of people go to the
temple for worship. The magnetic power in the earth extends to the
idol in the sanctum. The thoughts of the worshippers are also
attracted by the idol. Thereby the power of attraction in the idol
gets intensified. The rituals performed for the idol also enhance its
power of attraction. This process can be noticed if a couple of nails
are kept near a magnet. After two days it will be found that the nails
also have been magnetised. In the same manner when worshippers go to a
temple the power goes forth from thousands of worshippers, the power
or action in the idol gets immensely intensified. The idol surcharged
with this power is able to energize the worshippers.

Thus, in the world there is no object without this power. Atomic
energy is present everywhere. It is only when the true character of
this atomic power is understood that the power of the Divine can also
be understood.”

– Sathya Sai Baba

Enigma, Sai Baba – More Sathya Sai Memories

Sai Baba giving darshan and taking letters in Kodaikanal
Sai Baba giving darshan and taking letters in Kodaikanal

This blog began life as a small gesture to right a wrong. I expected it to last six months. Instead the blog grew and grew. I began to love spending time each day with my Sai memories adding friend’s memories of Baba too. Eventually the blog grew to an all-round spiritual blog. In 2011, Sai Baba passed away. I continued with the blog to help heal my sadness. I am aware that many readers are not in the Sai Baba fold, nor wish to be. Still, a post about him from me is appropriate at this time, almost three years after his passing.   ~ 



By many devotee’s accounts, Baba was an enigma. This is true. To understand Baba is to learn how consciousness works. We are making strides in understanding consciousness, and when we do, we will know how Siddha Gurus work. They are masters of consciousness. Of course, today He is often thought of as that “infamous guru” – a cheat and a fraud. Some people have written that he possessed a few siddhi powers of no real account, while others say he was a magician. The majority of his followers felt he was the real deal and loved him dearly.

He certainly was flamboyant in his dealings with visitors. Not for a moment did he hide his motives for attracting people to his ashram. He always said he used miracles as visiting cards, the reason was:

“I give people what they want so they will want what I have come to give.”

He used to say his gifts of jewellery, gold watches and rings he gave to people, were trash and tinsel. Not worth anything. The only real miracle was turning a heart around to love and serve.

Even today, I remember how powerful my first darshan was back in October, 1990 and how it affected me. I simply could not keep my eyes open. I wanted to withdrawn into myself, not speak to others. On that first visit, I only stayed a little over two weeks yet the calm meditation I was thrown into had then lasted six months.

People visited Baba for all sorts of reasons. He rarely attracted people who were advanced on the spiritual path. He didn’t need to. They already had what he wanted them to have – an open heart. He attracted worldly people by the thousands. Some stayed, some never returned. Most wanted to witness a miracle or ask for help with work or finances, or a cure for an illness. Sai Baba knew his visitors were not going to turn into saints or even sages, so he treated each accordingly. He knew their limitations and gave them a glimpse of his own inner radiant peace, so they would learn what could be obtained with his guidance.

The old darshan area in the sand.
The old darshan area in the sand.

On my second visit during 1991, I had to visit the accommodations office to renew my chit to keep my room. There, seated on chairs waiting patiently, were three Indian men. None looked anything like others in the ashram. They were simply dressed with their hair tied back in short pony tails, looking like they had left some sort of meditation cave. One in particular caught my eye, he was shining. His skin shone with such radiance, I could not stop looking at him. He turned to look at me and his eyes were bright and penetratingly glowing with an inner fire. He had an aura of stillness and quietude about him. I continued to stare with utter astonishment. They were given accommodation chits and left the office.

Next morning during darshan, Baba went straight up to the men and called them for an interview. Afterward, they immediately left the ashram. I am sure they were not meant to stay. Spiritually advanced seekers were not encouraged to stay by Baba. That is not to say there were no true seekers in Prashanti Nilayam. There were, but they didn’t require the lime-light, and spent their days engaged in some service activities.

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Darshans were a wonderful experience, especially in those early days in the ashram. The vitality and energy that flowed from Baba seemed to permeate the entire surrounding area and the village. Whatever that energy was it seemed to wash our souls. Reactions differed depending on  people and their character. Some people were joyous and radiant,  while others acted excitable and even anxious.  Others seem to get rather cantankerous. Yet, others cried. I am sure whatever  and wherever His energy reached, there  would be a  short charge to the “chakra system”, if only temporary. I remember one American lady described her darshan as an extreme close embrace, might add she was not alone in her interpretation. Whatever the person’s mood, it seemed to surface during darshan and afterwards for many hours. Another distinct feature of darshan, was a need to sleep afterwards or to be alone and silent. Baba, himself, shone from the inside out. there was never a time when he did not appear extremely beautiful. Often He seemed to glide rather than walk across the darshan sands. On several occasions during darshan when it rained, He just turned his palm upward and the rain stopped. Of course it  began again the moment He stepped inside the temple’s veranda.

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The mandir verandah became the seating area for the elite and staff. They gathered with students for darshan. I am not sure they got anything out of the darshan other than a good seat. One of Baba’s favorite sayings was:

“You can have a good seat but you won’t have me.” – meaning, I suppose, if anyone cheated it wouldn’t matter where they sat.

Baba was not unlike many other Indian Gurus in this respect. He chose some people to sit near and some far away and we can only gather that He had his reasons. I often thought, due to his powerful energy, it was better to keep some at a distance.

Darshan was not without risk. He would not allow anyone to touch him or stay long in his presence, unless they possessed a very strong nervous system. Too much of his vitality could have dire results. I remember the story of one man being called for an interview while his wife was ignored altogether. Now usually Baba would usually call a family together for an interview. Shocked that his wife was left out, the man asked why. Baba answered:

“ Her nervous system is too delicate for my energy.”

I understood well his meaning. There were occasions when darshan was so strong it was hard to stay seated. I had left the darshan area more than once, due to the amount of energy flowing from him.

To attend darshan, we had to form rows. The seva dal then came along with a black bag of round discs, each with a number. The first person in the row took a token disc. According to the number, the row was seated inside the darshan hall. I might add there was no cheating. I watched many times for slight of hand, but I can say there was none in the general public seating. The seva dal shook the bag of numbers thoroughly before offering the numbers to each row. Amazingly, some people always had line one or two while others were placed, day after day, on the back rows.

I remember, on many occasions, friends of mine drew token one. They would do each day for months at a time. Often I tried to sit in their row knowing they would draw the precious number one, only to somehow miss out when the row was moved or being told to move by the staff. Baba knew who He wanted in the front and who He did not. The whole affair was maddening – and many followers left because of it.

Darshan on the men's side, Puttaparthi Ashram
Darshan on the men’s side, Puttaparthi Ashram

Here’s an example of this. The year was 1995. A few ladies decided to line up for a token number for the afternoon bhajan singing held inside the temple. We lined up in the sands near the back of the temple. There were always seven rows. The group of ladies would choose a row and sit quietly hoping their line would draw token number one.

At the time, a German lady was living in the ashram, and she appeared to be a “blessed soul”. Wherever she sat, she drew number one. This assured her of a wonderful seat in the temple hall. I watched daily as she confidently drew number one, then off she went with her row tagging along behind. Each day I tried to join her row but on each occasion, the row would either be dismantled or had to reform or she would change lines without warning. To cut a long story short, I could never sit in her line before something happening to change the situation. In the end, I gave up trying. By His selection of ladies, He proved to me to be all-knowing and very powerful. I didn’t need to see miracles or have interviews, rings or watches to have it proven.

To finish. My last darshan was at home while sitting in the chair on 24th November 2010. The day after Baba’s 85 birthday. He left us the following April, 2011. He had asked that I attend the birthday.  I had declined.


My last you tube dedicated to Sai Baba

Thank you to all my blogging friends for your kind support. You make my day in all sorts of ways. Namaste, eve