Puttaparthi, The Global Village
imagine! This Puttaparthi that was once a hamlet with a
population of just a little over hundred people, has now
grown to a town with a population of about a lakh of
people. Just wait and see - in a short while, Puttaparthi
is going to become a landmark on the map of the world. ….
It would become a name to be reckoned with in every major
developed country in the world such as Japan, Germany,
Italy, France, etc. People everywhere would start
regarding Puttaparthi as an important location. The
students of Puttaparthi should realise their good fortune.
19th October, 1999
Most of you might
have come to Puttaparthi one time or the other to have Swami's
Darshan or heard of it from some friend of yours who has been
there. Or at least seen pictures of it. Whatever may be the case,
if one sees Puttaparthi today, one would scarcely believe that
this is the same village, which 40 years back, has been called
'ten minutes past the stone age' !
is what one finds in Puttaparthi today: a sprawling, organised
self sustained township, The Prasanthi nilayam. A university
offering the latest courses. A super speciality hospital with
state of the art equipment. Busy streets with people of all
nations, colours, creeds and languages. Automatic teller machines,
branches of major banks, money exchanges, internet parlours,
highrise buildings and cellular towers. Puutaparthi is truly
But walk further
down from the ashram and suddenly the landscape changes. There are
closely spaced houses in narrow streets inhabited by simple and
innocent village people. Across the street one may find a farmer
plying his produce on the bullock cart to the local market. Come
rainy season, and scores of village children can be seen taking a
swim in the adjacent Chitravathi river. Puttaparthi is a village,
a beautiful typical Indian village.
To sum it up,
it is a Global Village connected by the road, the rail and the
Reaching the Lord's
abode has become relatively easy nowadays but half a century back
it was different. It could probably be counted in the same league
as trekking to the top of the Everest! There was a reason for
this: The time had not yet come for the world to witness His
Glory! The Lord had to give access only to a few privileged and
persistent devotees who did not mind any difficulties in reaching
His abode. The first difficulty of course was that people did not
know that such a village existed!
get a feel for how it was to come to Puttaparthi about half a
century ago, let us turn to Mrs. Vijayakumari who first came there
in 1945 as a small girl, along with her family. We pick up her
narration from the time their party got down from the train at
Penukonda Railway Station.
was in October 1945 that we first went there. Our train reached
Penukonda station at 1 A.M. It was pitch dark. There was not even
a platform, and we had to jump quickly from the compartment….
There was not a soul in the station. Outside the station, we saw a
few horse carts. Father said, 'It seems there is a choultry [a
free lodge] in the town. Let us go.' ….It took us one hour to
reach the village. The driver asked us to get down, pointed to a
stone slab on the wayside and asked us to wait there. To our
query, 'How is one to spend the night here?' he gruffly answered,
'Who will open the choultry for you in the middle of the night?
Wait there till the morning.' With a frown on his face he dumped
our luggage on the ground and left. ….
spent the rest of the night in that shed, waiting for dawn. The
Rain God sent a downpour for full two hours.
A troop of monkeys came from apparently nowhere and started
attacking our luggage…At last the bus appeared. But getting
tickets was a problem. It was only after we sat in the bus that we
came to know antagonism towards Swami was the main reason for not
issuing tickets to us. They were using foul language. 'That little
fellow the size of a finger proclaims, 'I am Sai Baba,' and all of
you believe him and run after him like mad people.' Not knowing
what to do, we closed our ears and sat silently. Just then, our
vehicle started moving. It was not a bus; it would be more
appropriate to call it a box made up of tin sheets. ….
reached Bukkapatnam around twelve noon. It was a tiny hamlet;
there were hardly about ten houses. We
told that from here, we still had to go another five miles in a
bullock cart….. A cart was engaged. … There was nothing but four
uneven wooden planks, on either side. …. It was a horrible road,
full of ups and downs. We felt that walking might be better than
travelling in the cart. Whenever the cart moved on a slope, the
luggage slid towards the front of the cart, and we had to cling to
the boxes, making sure that we ourselves did not fall down. ….
Finally, we reached Karnataka Nagepalli. We assumed that this was
but were dismayed when a man told us, 'No, you have to cross the
river and go beyond.' … When we stepped into the river with
gnashing teeth, our feet seem to be sinking in elbow-deep water.
Like the bullocks, we too trudged on behind the cart driver,
panting and puffing. Our throats were parched and dry. … Somehow
we crossed the river and reached the other shore….Some men were
standing on top of a hill in front of us, waved to us, and started
walking towards us. We were surprised because none of them were
known to us. One boy in that group looked very sweet. He was
strikingly charming. … We thought he was a disciple of Baba. …..
he was not. That was Baba Himself, come to receive the devotees
whom He, in infinite mercy, was now drawing into His fold! It is
interesting to note that Baba increased His 'following' in a
controlled manner, commensurate with the development of local
facilities on the one hand, and the capacity of the devotee to put
up with inconveniences on the other. With His powers, Swami could
have overnight changed things beyond description; He did not do
that. Instead, He allowed things to evolve in a measured manner,
in the process also demonstrating how villages could be greatly
developed just invoking the power of Love.
put it, Swami's love is the singular cause for the Glory of
Puttaparthi, for it to have found its way on to the world map.
Source: Radio Sai E-Magazine, November