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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  God's Own Children

Dikkuleni variki Devude dikku. For those who have no other refuge, God alone is the refuge.

- Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Thirty year old ChinnaNagamma of Jagrajpalli had darkness staring into her. Future seemed bleak. Her husband had recently passed away. She had four young children. No land of her own. No house to stay in. And like a majority of the rural women in India, she was illiterate. To provide her children with one square meal a day was a daunting challenge. With none of her so called kith and kin coming forward to bail her out of this pathetic situation, she silently, cried out for help in her heart in the hope that if there was a God somewhere, may be He would respond.

Her prayers were not in vain. After a few months of her suffering, she heard from someone that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was starting a project that would rehabilitate destitutes like her and that anyone deserving could come and register themselves. Immediately, she came with her children to Puttaparthi and met the people concerned with the project. When she told them her story, they melted. They registered her and sent her back to her village with the assurance that she would be called soon after verification. Chinna Nagamma spent about a week full of anticipation. Yet, no word came from Puttaparthi. Was this project too one of those nonstarters, as with the many government schemes? Or was she found not deserving ? Whose life could be more disastrous than hers? she thought. A few days later, when she was returning from the forest after taking the cattle for grazing, a policeman accosted her. Upon enquiring her name, the policeman broke the news to a trembling Nagamma : You have been called by Bhagavan to stay in Puttaparthi, along with your children. Nagamma could not believe her ears. She was convinced that if at all there was a God, it had to be Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Sathya Sai Nagar

Today, Nagamma, along with eighty others is a happy resident, of Sathya Sai Nagar at Kammmavaripalli behind the ashram complex. Each of them has a story to tell about how compassionate Swami has been to them. The Sathya Sai Nagar is the result of The Sathya Sai Deenajanoddharana project taken up by the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust in the year 2001. The project had its genesis in 2001, when Bhagavan, made a declaration that He would take up the cause of as many destitutes as possible and rehabilitate them. He recounted how he was moved by the news of a mother who committed suicide by consuming poison after poisoning her three children as she could not combat the abject poverty they found themselves in. He declared that he would provide food, shelter and clothing to as many destitute children as possible, besides educating them to be self-reliant.

Sai Sankalpa (resolve) is Vajra sankalpa. Action followed with lightning speed. To begin with, construction began for two room tenements to house the first come orphans and destitutes, converting His own orchard into a housing colony. Swami himself laid the foundation stone for the project. Sixty boys from such families were selected from Bukkapatnam, Kothacheruvu and Puttaparthi mandals. Some among them had no mother. Some had no father. Some had none. But as soon as they came to Prasanthi Nilayam, they found a loving mother in Swami. Swami would give them clothes, suitcases, blankets and would bless them with His kind words. During the period of construction of Sai Nagar, the boys and their widowed mothers were housed in specially allocated sheds and given some orientation. Volunteers started taking informal classes according to the age of the boys, until they were formally accepted in the upcoming school at Sai Nagar. There were in total 58 boys, the age ranging from 4 to 14 years. The mothers were ten in number.

Shri Paramahansa recieving a cheque of Re 60 lakhs from Swami

Meanwhile, the construction was progressing fast under the able execution of Nagarjuna Construction Company , a reputed firm in Andhra Pradesh. Bhagavan was involved at every stage of the project, offering practical advice on all aspects. On June 19th 2002,the festival of Gurupurnima, Swami inaugurated the fully completed Sathya Sai Nagar . The grateful boys sang songs of gratitude while the mothers watched them from a distance with tears in their eyes. Bhagwan himself was totally lost in the innocent love of those young children. He listened to their songs with rapt attention, patted them and blessed them profusely.

Inaugurating Sathya Sai Nagar June 19th 2002

Later in the year, on 22nd November 2002, the annual convocation of SSSIHL, Bhagwan handed over a cheque of sixty lakhs to Sri Paramahansa , the project in charge, in the presence of the president of India Shri A P J Abdul Kalam. The money was to be used, Bhagavan declared, for making a fixed deposit of one lakh rupees in the name of each boy!

We shall overcome

Today, the Sathya Sai Nagar is an ideal of community living. It is more or less an example of a self-sustained, self-sufficient village. When the idea of making a cover story came to H2H, we contacted Sathya Sai Nagar over the telephone, saying we wanted to come there. Within minutes, there was a car in front our office with Sri Prakash , the caretaker of the village and a young driver who must be no more than 14 years of age. When asked about it, Sri Prakash replied that they train their boys in all skills, including driving! Believe us, He was a pretty good driver!

The family

As we enter the colony, there is a beautiful garden full of flowers. A little further there is a play ground with swings, parallel bars and other facilities. We hear the joyous cries of children having a good time in the ground. Along the path that leads to the houses are Swami?s quotes etched on stone slabs: God is love, Live in love, Always keep good company etc. As we near the houses, we hear the sound of drums, keeping beat to a devotional song.

Women help in the kitchen

A group of 50 boys is singing full throated, full of feeling. The whole atmosphere is charged. The head master of the school, where these children study comes forward and welcomes us. He says the boys are practicing for a performance before Swami. All the boys, he says, are excellent. They are humble, obedient and are extremely fast in grasping things. This is in contrast with his experience as a teacher in other villages, where he would struggle with the boys to make them learn a few alphabets. The key, He says, is the Love of Swami. Each boy is so full of gratitude that He wants to please Swami in all that he does. That includes studying well and behaving well. In fact, the love of Swami has worked such wonders that these boys, who earlier found it difficult to speak a few coherent sentences, are now experts at reciting Vedas with perfect intonation and pronunciation!

Working on the vegetable farm

The boys now surround us and take us to their school. It is a small but beautiful building of eight rooms. In front of the building they have a volleyball court and a basketball court. But it is not only play and study that they are good at. They take active part, along with the mothers, in the maintenance of the place. They also work on a vegetable farm in the colony, where they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables that are used in the cooking.

Singing the Lords praises

They sometimes send vegetables they grow in the farm to Swami too! The group of ten mothers, along with the cook, prepare the food and manage the dining hall. Washing utensils, clothes, cleaning the place are just a few other things that they do apart from cooking.

Practising for a performance before Swami

As one lady put it, they are family of ten sisters and sixty children: Each living for the other and all living for Swami.

The story will not be complete without mentioning how Swami, through his personal interactions with these boys, moulds their character and gives them confidence to face life. Every Thursday and Sunday when the boys come for darshan, Swami lovingly asks them what they had for breakfast. They would reply in unison ?idli? or ?dosa?. The younger ones aged 5 or 6 would be sometimes dozing during darshan. When others would try to wake them up, Swami would say, like a loving mother, ?Shhh! Let him sleep.?

The dining session

Every time prasadam is distributed Swami makes sure that they receive it. On one occasion, Swami was overseeing apples being distributed to these boys. One of the boys had already got an apple and not knowing this, the volunteer tried to give one more apple to him. The boy politely refused it, saying ?Sir, I have already got one!? This did not escape the discerning eye of Swami and immediately he called the boy near him.

The school

He said ?Good Boy! Always speak the truth!? He waved his hand, materialized a gold chain and put it around the boy?s neck. ?Speak the truth always, and I shall give you everything you want!? He assured him. Imagine what an impact it would have made on the boy and the others watching the whole scene. Needless to say, only the Divine mother Sai can do this in such a beautiful and loving way!

Learning is fun

The most recent incident is yet another proof of Swami?s love for these boys. A group of seven boys were selected for writing the tenth class examination. This exam is conducted by the State board and the papers go for external evaluation. These boys were faced with such a situation for the first time. If they passed the examination, they would cross a major milestone in their life. On the day of the examination, the boys had come for darshan to seek Swami?s blessings.

In the play ground

Swami went to them and asked them if they had prepared well for the exam. One of the boys blurted out that he was afraid and tense. Swami assured them that they would all do well and that there was no need to fear. Swami went into the interview room and the boys left to their colony, from where they would go to Kothacheruvu, a near by town, for writing the exams.

Planting saplings

But the Divine mother in Swami was not satisfied. After a few minutes He came out and called for the car. He got into it and went straight to Sai Nagar. One of the H2H members also had the privilege of following Swami?s car, all the while wondering what was happening. As soon as Swami reached Sai Nagar, he got out of the car, called for the boys who were going for the exam, created vibhuthi, gave them padanamskar, and assured them of His Grace. The boys were overwhelmed by this unexpected gesture of compassion and were literally in tears for the trouble that Swami had taken for their sake.

Chanting vedam

(A few days back, the results have been declared. Six out of the seven who appeared for the exam secured first division and one passed in the second division!)

The Successful tenth standard boys

When we at H2H met all these boys and the mothers, we realized what a difference Bhagawan has made in their lives. It was a heart warming sight to watch them at Bhajans, singing and clapping their hands with gusto. ?So what will you be when you grow up?? we asked. ?A policeman?, piped up one. ?An engineer? said another. ?I will become a doctor, and serve in Swami?s hospital?, affirmed another. As we walked away, we thought to ourselves: would even these dreams be possible for them without Bhagawan?

With His Loving Children

Source: Radio Sai E-Magazine, June 1, 2004

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