Puttaparthi: The early years...
Mrs. Karanam Kamalamma was the
second wife of Late Karanam
Lakshminarayana Rao, Village Karanam ( Revenue Officer ) of
Puttaparthi, when Bhagawan was very young, a boy. Karanam
Lakshminarayana Rao married Kamalamma as his second wife for the
reason that his first wife Mrs. Karanam Subbamma had no
so happened that Mrs. Kamalamma also had no children. The office
the Village Karanam at that time was a hereditary one. As
Lakshminarayana Rao had had no children, his brother's son
Gopala Rao, about the same age of Bhagavan, became the Karanam
Puttaparthi after Karanam Lakshminarayana Rao had passed away.
Karanam Kamalamma passed away in 2004. She had the good fortune
see Bhagawan, love Him and admire Him even when He was just five
(The following is an extract of the Foreword to the book " Love
My Form " - Volume One - The Advent (1926-1950) by Dr. R.S.
Padmanabhan published by Sai Towers Publishing, Bangalore in
" Padmanabhan requested of me a foreword to his book (Love is My
Form - Volume One), even though I do not understand what is
in it - because I never went to school. I am more than eighty
old now (2000)! What can I do?
Yet, the photos in this book speak to me and take me back to the
good old days.
When I saw Swami for the first time, I was about twelve years
and had just then been married - as the second wife to the
(the village chieftain) of Puttaparthi. I did not know that the
little boy in shorts and half-sleeved shirt was to be revealed
Swami, an Avatar!
Tears run down my eyes when I think of the Swami of those days.
After returning from Uravakonda He came to our house and said to
me, "Kamalamma! You think I am a human being? No! I am God,
Kamalamma! I am Eswara Himself! You will see My glory in the
years. Believe Me!"
Several incidents appear fresh before my mind's eye:
After the bath, He stands as a very young boy, with a towel
His waist. He keeps a Shirdi Baba photo and breaks open the
we carried there for the worship (offering). Then He says, "I am
a ghost. I am Shirdi Baba. I want to join this boy. I trouble
body in numerous ways, to settle down."
After that, He materializes flowers and fruits, takes arati and
to sleep. We wake Him up and offer a dhoti and a shirt for Him
wear and invite Him for dinner. We serve Him dinner in a silver
plate…others, on a leaf. He mixes all the items and eats up
everything. No leftovers! Afterwards, He settles down in our
People would visit Him from early morning to midnight, in those
days, and He would go on granting them interviews. He would hear
their woes, materialize vibhuti, cure diseases, solve their
or console them. I once asked Him "why do you grant interviews
many people?" He said: "If I do not do it, not even a crow will
to Me, now. But a day will come when you will see people
the thousands. Then, you will see Me in all My glory." How all
has come true!
Devotees would come and many would stay for months - and some,
for years! Every day, ten-bullock carts would come, filled with
and women. Subbamma (Karanam's first wife) and I would cook for
of them, until we were tired and fell asleep. Often, Swami would
wake us up late in the night and say, "Kamalamma, many are
Call them! I will grant them interview and send them away!
Otherwise, tomorrow you will have to cook for them again!"
left without an interview. Also, nobody left without food.
We used to sit with Swami for lunch and dinner. He would mix up
the dishes - curries, rice, etc and make them into large
Each of us would get one. There was never a shortage! Everyone
And, His leelas! How wonderful they were! He would take Subbamma
me to the Kalpa Vriksha (the wish-fulfilling tree) and ask us to
hold its leaves. Each day the tree would give different fruits
according to our requests. One day, Navaneetham Naidu's daughter
wanted to eat dosa. Immediately, Swami materialized a stock of
and crisp dosas. Sometimes, He would ask us to bring some small
vessel. He would give it a pat and it would be filled up with
Yet, Swami was so simple, sweet and child-like. In no time at
He would make garlands out of jasmine flowers brought from our
garden. Sometimes He would make a bed out of them and sleep on
He would also play many games with us. He always won! At other
times, He would pull my hair and tease me! There was an old
Bhimappa by name, who would bring drinking water from the
Chitravathi River. Bhimappa sang well and even cracked jokes. He
loved chillies - and took at least ten with his meals! Swami
often ask him to sing songs for a reward of chillies.
But Swami was Swami - a hard taskmaster who never lost an
opportunity to teach, even in the midst of hilarity. One day, I
serving Him lunch. He was very playful and asked for another
of curry. Absentmindedly, and erroneously, I served Him, using
left hand. How He hit my left hand! It still pains, just to
it! Once, He told Subbamma and me, "both of you will not have
children. But I will be there as your child. You will have no
Now, in spite of so many people coming to him every day, He
remembers me and inquires after my welfare now and then, and
sari for me, during every festival time.
Swami once told me, "You, Subbamma and I should have a photo
But nobody had a camera, then. Somehow, it did not materialize,
later. Who knows the mind of Swami, the Sathchakravarthi - the
Emperor of all the worlds?
Whatever He has done for Puttaparthi and whatever he has been
in the hearts of millions of people, out of His immense prema,
proof enough of His Divinity. It has been my good fortune to
Take my advice: Love Him for all that He is; have Faith, and He
save you.Get immersed in Sai Tatwa - the Principle of Sai ".
Love and Light,
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