God's Own Children
variki Devude dikku. For those who have no other refuge, God alone
is the refuge.
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.
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
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
(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.
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.
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!
Today, the Sathya
Sai Nagar is an ideal of community living. It is more or less an
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!
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.
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
at reciting Vedas with perfect intonation and pronunciation!
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.
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.
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.?
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
(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
When we at H2H met
all these boys and the mothers, we realized what a difference
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?
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
June 1, 2004