Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles
Easwaramma - The Crown of Motherhood
"Easwaramma was the chosen
one. I chose her to be My mother. That is the intimate
relationship between Mother Easwaramma and Myself."
the emphatic declaration of Bhagavan on the most
auspicious Easwaramma Day, the 6th of May, 2001. In no
uncertain terms Swami communicated how lofty, grand and
glorious is the stature of Mother Easwaramma. The
thronging crowd in Sai Ramesh Hall exploded into loud
applause that evening as they heard these Divine words
Easwaramma, truly, was a divine effulgence which graced
mother Earth with a sacred mission and purpose by the
inscrutable will of the Divine just like Kaushalya,
(Mother of Sri Rama), Devaki (Mother of Sri Krishna) or
Mary (Christ's Mother). She underwent similar agonies
and ecstasies, fears and dilemmas, trials and triumphs,
and ultimately bliss and beatitude that the Divine
Mothers of yore passed through.
Krishna, Swami was the eighth child of Mother Easwaramma
and the turbulent times she went through before he took
birth were akin to what Devaki experienced before
Krishna graced her lap. None of Mother Devaki's previous
seven children could escape from the heinous designs of
the demon Kamsa. Easwaramma too suffered at the hands of
cruel fate. She had four miscarriages in a row before
the Light of the World descended as her Son.
The Mother performs
Padapuja to The Lord
"Easwaramma" – The Name
Said It All
It was not as if
it was totally unannounced, for Kondama Raju, father-in-law of
Easwaramma, had dreams of the family preceptor Venka Avadhootha
instructing him to be prepared, though for what he was not told.
As Swami explained:
Kondama Raju, the grandfather
of this physical body, being a jnani (one of wisdom), was
blessed with a vision of the future. One day he called his
son, Pedda Venkama Raju, and told him to change his wife's
name to Easwaramma. He told this because he felt the divine
vibrations originating from within. His intention was to
convey that she was the mother of Easwara, God Himself. But
Pedda Venkama Raju was not aware of the inner meaning of
this name. He implicitly obeyed the command of his father
and changed the name of his wife to Easwaramma. Easwaramma
was first christened as Namagiriamma at the time of birth.
So long before
Swami was born, Namagiriamma became Easwaramma, meaning the
Mother of Easwara, or God, and in his own inimitable way the
Divine Lord announced his coming advent.
precursor to the Divine Descent
years later, a Pundit well versed in the Puranas asked
Swami, "Was your Incarnation a Pravesa (an Entrance) or
a Prasava (Enceinte)?"
to Easwaramma seated in front, he said, "Tell what
happened that day near the well after your mother-in-law
had warned you."
She had dreamt of
Sathyanarayana Deva and she cautioned me that I
should not be frightened if something happens to me
through the will of God. That morning when I was at
the well drawing water, a big ball of blue light
came rolling towards me and I fainted and fell. I
felt it glide into me.
"There you have the
answer!" Swami said, "I was not begotten. It was
Pravesa, not Prasava."
The First Miracle
So it was the
Divine had decided to descend and had chosen the womb of
Mother Easwaramma as his temporary abode. When the sacred
moment arrived in the early hours of the morning on that
holy Monday, the day dedicated to Lord Shiva, on the 23rd of
November 1926, the Chosen Mother had just consumed prasad
(consecrated food) given to her by her mother-in-law after
the hour-long Sathyanarayana Puja.
and relished the sanctified food and before the sun had
spread its morning light on the Rathnakaram home the house
was bright with jubilation, joy and gaiety – the long
awaited son was born. Those present were blessed to witness
the first miracle of the Divine Personality, described by
Prof. N. Kasturi, Baba's biographer:
A mat covered with a
thick bedspread had been placed in a corner of the room,
when the labor had begun, and now the baby was placed on
it by the grandmother. Suddenly they found the bedspread
rising up and falling down on either side of the baby.
She grasped the child and held it close. A serpent was
coiled beneath! Of course, snakes there were in plenty
at Puttaparthi, creeping through crevices, crawling
along the walls, and hiding in holes. But a serpent in
the lying-in room pretending to be a bed – it was the
role of Adisesha for the Vishnu who rested on its coils.
This was the Incarnation's first miracle. When
Easwaramma was asked about this epic event, she
confessed she had been so filled with joy at the birth
of a son she had never even noticed the agitation all
Sathya's Attitude Baffles
"Rathnakaram" family, meaning "a treasure chest of gems," now
had its most precious jewel and the home was a hive of activity.
With his bewitching looks and captivating smiles, little Sathya
(Swami's childhood name) instantly become the cynosure of the
village. Later, his prodigious talents in music, dance and
poetry, and his divine leelas enacted right from early
childhood on would bring joy to many. As for Easwaramma, she was
the one who fretted over Swami every moment and suffered the
most from his indifferent-to-this-world attitude. In her own
"I Do Not
Need Anything" - Sathya
[Sathya] never asked for any particular food or
clothes. A bundle of clothes would be brought from
Hindupur or Anantapur and one of the grownups,
father or grandfather, would call the boys in the
family asking each one to choose for himself. But
Sathya always sat aloof until the others had made
their choice and then he would take whatever was
left behind, rejected by the others. He never seemed
to have any desire or wish of his own, but his face
would light up with a beam when he saw the other
children happy. When we asked him what he wanted, a
smile was the only reply. I would hug him close and
try to get him to confide his wish to me.
‘Sathya, tell me
what you want. I will give it to you,' I would say.
‘I do not need anything' was his only answer.
‘Whatever you give me, I will accept. That is enough
for me. I will not choose.'
Sathya used to
play with other children and sing bhajans for hours on end. Her
daughters reported that he performed a very intricate dance a
child artiste demonstrated during a drama in Bukkapatnam even
better than the original. But Sathya's solemnity inside the
house disturbed his mother beyond measure. Years later
Easwaramma would recount:
This was something I could
not understand. How were we different? What made him so
deeply sober and serious? I began at last to wonder whether
the label Brahmajnan [a realized soul] the village elders
had stuck on him and which I had thought a mockery was
indeed a tribute after all.
Then Yashoda, Now Easwaramma
Like Yashoda, Sri
Krishna's foster Mother, Easwaramma would often pray for Divine
intervention for Sathya to turn into a normal Puttaparthi boy.
Still, Easwaramma could see in him the potentials of a poet, a
singer, a dancer, a playwright and a director and she hoped he
would blossom in these fields. In fact, such were Sathya's
theatrical skills and such was Easwaramma's simplicity that
whenever she saw him being "tortured" in a drama he acted in,
she wept aloud and even tried to protect her Sathya!
And again like
Mother Yashoda, who was troubled and torn by instances of demons
vying for the life of her sweet darling child, Mother Easwaramma
too faced agonizing and abnormal experiences. After every
display of Sathya's supernatural powers her worries only
increased. Here is what she experienced told in Swami's own
When Swami was staying in the
Old Mandir, one day there was an unusual crowd. Sensing
danger, Easwaramma came to Me and said, ‘Swami, these people
seem to be having some ulterior motive. I am afraid they may
try to harm You. I am unable to sleep peacefully.' I infused
courage in her, saying, ‘Be fearless. The body is bound to
perish one day or the other. So, give up body attachment.'
Those days I used to
sleep all alone in a thatched hut. That night, as
Easwaramma feared, some evil-minded people set the
hut on fire from all four sides. There were raging
flames all around. Seeing this, Subbamma and
Easwaramma came running. When they reached the spot,
they found to their utter amazement there was a
heavy downpour on the hut. However, there was
absolutely no rain in the surrounding area. When I
came out of the hut, both of them were overjoyed to
see Me safe and sound.
Similarly, on another occasion Swami shared:
One day, somebody
invited Me to their house for food. Actually their
intention was to poison Me. They were feeling
jealous of My growing popularity and prosperity. In
those days I used to relish vadas made of Alasanda
grains. Hence, they mixed poison in vadas and
offered them to Me. Before going there, I had told
Easwaramma and Subbamma not to be afraid if any
untoward incident was to happen. When I returned
from there, My entire body turned blue and My mouth
started frothing. I told Easwaramma to wave her hand
in a circle. She did accordingly, and to her utter
amazement there appeared vibhuti in her hand. She
mixed it in water and gave it to Me. Instantly, I
became normal. She wondered, ‘Swami can create
vibhuti with a wave of his hand. But how is it that
vibhuti appeared in My hand?' In fact, I had given
her that power for that moment.
Easwaramma's darling Sathya
through many trying times mothering the "infinite power"
incarnated in her humble home, though of course there were also
mystical and profound experiences. When Sathya was just nine
months old, one singular episode baffled her beyond her limits.
I can remember the whole incident
fresh and clear. I had just bathed and dressed him and applied
on his eyes cooling collyrium. I applied vibhuthi from the Shiva
temple and a dot of kumkum from the Sathyamma temple on his
brow. I put him in the cradle, gave it a swing and turned to the
hearth where the milk had come to a boil. Suddenly I heard him
cry. I was surprised for, believe me, he had never cried since
birth for any reason, hunger, or pain, or discomfort. I picked
him up and placed him on my lap and he stopped the wail. I saw a
halo of brilliant light all around him, a circle of radiance
surrounding him. But the light did not hurt me, it was so cool
though so bright and near. I sat still, lost in delight. It was
there a long time, before it faded slowly away. I closed my eyes
and probably lost awareness of everything around until my
mother-in-law came to me and I awoke. The child was apparently
asleep. She asked me what had happened and I told her about the
halo that I could see even then in clear outline. She put her
finger on her lips and said, ‘Don't tell anyone of this. They
wouldn't understand. They would spread all kinds of tales.'
be blessed with countless such experiences and every one
increased her love for the beloved son she had been gifted with
after so much prayer and penitence.
The Mother's Heart
Sathya was so
bright that denying him further education seemed a sacrilege, so
as there was no high school within a radius of twenty miles he
went to live with his brother so he could attend school at
Uravakonda. Easwaramma had to sigh and cry alone, and it must be
added, now and then to exult and enthuse, for stories seeped
through the intervening miles of the marvels Sathya had
authored, the cures he had effected, the problems he had solved,
as well as of the hardships he had to undergo.
without duty is Divine
visit to Puttaparthi from Uravakonda, Easwaramma gave
Sathya an invigorating "oil bath" and observed on his
left shoulder a broad length of blackened thickened
skin. Sathya did not complain of pain when the patch was
touched or pressed and laughed it off when she asked how
he had acquired that mark. But when Easwaramma insisted,
he told her that the skin was rendered so as the result
of carrying water pots hung on both ends of a pole borne
on his shoulder for the household where he stayed. There
was only one well at Uravakonda for drinking water which
was nearly a kilometer away, so he walked to and fro
about six times daily, thrice in the morning and thrice
in the evening.
Easwaramma was alarmed.
"You must come away from there.
They are exploiting your goodness and your desire to
serve. Why should they depend on you for water?"
But Sathya responded,
"I felt it as my duty, Amma. How
long can the children survive on the brackish poison? I
carry the water of life from that distance gladly,
Mother. I have come to do this service."
Mother was in tears and could hardly speak. Immediately,
Sathya was back home in Puttaparthi.
The Mother's Greatest
Anxiety – Swami's Food Habits
If Swami was away
from her for some time and a visitor came from that place,
Easwaramma would invariably ask,
"How is Swami? Is he keeping well? Does he eat
anything at all?"
habits were always a subject of concern for the Mother. Every
now and then Easwaramma would go into the Mandir, for there were
no regular hours for her or anyone else, and she would note the
new arrivals, talk to them and then move quietly towards the
women who were mothering her son.
"Serve him and nurse him with care," she would plead. "Look at
him; one can count the ribs, they are coming through so clear.
He won't listen to what we say. He insists on his own ways, all
the while telling us how to behave. And somehow he justifies
everything he does as good for himself."
night, lunchtime and dinnertime, whenever she thought
about it Easwaramma was confronted by a
conundrum. How could the Ananda of others be Ahara
[food] for him? He ate so meagerly. He relished
so little. He set aside so much. He had no obvious
preference, no visible appetite, no taste to satisfy, no
hunger to appease, and no time to spare. How could he
derive sustenance from this Anandaless atmosphere? She
prayed for him to eat but it was all in vain. Swami
would take a mouthful just to satisfy her and then stand
and walk away.
Easwaramma a long time to reconcile herself to this
Avataric trait. Whenever she was around she personally
supervised the preparation of the menu for Swami by
going into the host's kitchen. She believed that Swami
would eat a few more spoonfuls if the cuisine was
Telugu, or better still, if it was genuine Rayalaseema,
the region to which Puttaparthi belonged.
When Swami was at Jamnagar with
the Rajmatha of Nawanagar (in Gujarat), Easwaramma
feared that the Gujarati dishes might not be acceptable
to her son. She smuggled herself into the palace kitchen
and sought permission to prepare a little chaar – a soup
based on boiled pulses – so Swami would have some food
of familiar taste.
mother's concern never left her alone. Her eyes were on
his plate to discover how much he tasted of what and how
his health reacted to the restraints he imposed on
himself. When Bhagavan was forty-four-years-old,
Easwaramma was heard to say,
"He does not like their cooking. He used
to eat well as a boy when I cooked his food. But he does
not care for my cooking now. He says I must have rest
and quiet and not to worry about such things."
that we may learn to serve
When Swami was a
child, Easwaramma would have to spend an hour to persuade him to
swallow a mouthful. The thinnest of excuses – a crow cawing for
a morsel, a mendicant voice from afar, a child crying next door
– sufficed for him to run away from the plate before him.
On one occasion
Swami took to drinking only a cup of buttermilk per day…for
thirty-six days! One can imagine the heart-rending pain
Easwaramma went through, struggling to hold back tears which
threatened to well up throughout the day. When at last Swami
said in response to the devotees' prayers he would resume his
normal schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Easwaramma was
happy beyond words and asked him to never tease them with such
tactics again. Even years later, whenever she recalled those
thirty-six days, it was with a sigh and expression of
Her Childlike Simplicity
for Swami extended to every detail of his life. Apart from his
spartan food habits, another subject which troubled her was
Swami's travels. She was always
apprehensive of him leaving Puttaparthi even if it was for only
a day to a nearby city or town. So imagine her distress when she
heard about the planned trip to East Africa in 1968. She was
extremely nervous, to say the least.
was known about Africa in those days, and the popular
impression was that it was a dark continent full of wild
animals, savages, and cannibals. Easwaramma had heard
this folklore and feared Swami would be in danger if he
went there. She resolved to have the trip cancelled and
expressed her reservations to someone involved with the
expedition. The person replied, "Mother, do not worry.
Swami will be visiting only big cities where he will be
absolutely safe – no threats from animals or savages
Easwaramma was dissatisfied with the reply and felt hurt
that the person was making light of a serious matter.
She approached someone else and told him, "Listen, all
of you are merrily planning a jaunt to Africa without
being conscious of the risk to Swami. It is not too late
yet, and you must do everything possible to dissuade him
from undertaking this trip." The person she spoke to
gave a patient hearing and then replied, "Amma, have no
fear. Swami will have very high security protection."
Easwaramma felt frustrated that no one was taking her
misgivings seriously. She sought out a senior devotee
and conveyed her worst fears to him. This devotee said,
"Mother, it is true that there are many dangers in
Africa. But how can they affect Swami? He is God, is he
not?" Hearing this Mother Easwaramma became furious and
"You fool! I know Swami is God and you
know he is God. But do those savages and wild animals in
Africa know he is God?"
That was the
Mother's childlike concern and simplicity. Though she had
realised her son's divinity, motherly anxieties often
overwhelmed her. Sri Jayalakshmi Gopinath, who was fortunate to
interact with the Mother and observe her at close quarters,
I knew the Divine Mother Easwaramma so well. It was mutual
love between us. I loved her because on her face there was
such brilliance that you could not find anywhere in the
whole world on any sophisticated face. Whatever one would
put on the face it could not match the glow on her face. I
have seen it myself. She was as simple as a child.
Easwaramma Travels With
Ask any of those
old timers who knew the Mother and they will say, "She was so
humble, so lovable, so simple." Swami, who was filled with
compassion at Easwaramma's rustic upbringing, believed that
travel was the surest way to broaden her views. Swami persuaded
her to come with him and the devotees to Bangalore. Fast cars
sped them along macadamized highways, through stretches of brown
barrenness, and then carpets of cool green, jowar, paddy and
ragi, sweet sugarcane and cotton. At Madras she saw the sea for
the first time. Swami had described the ocean to her in epic
terms, for these were the waters that Rama and his monkey hordes
had crossed in the Tretha Yuga on their way to Lanka. A few
drops sprinkled on the head purifies a person to perfection, he
said, for into it flows the holy rivers Ganga, Jumna, Kaveri and
Easwaramma was touched to the depths of her being as she gazed
in awe at her first vision of the ocean, boundless in its
immensity, eternal in its rhythm of surge and swell, forever
changing yet ever the same, an endless expanse with the horizon
as its limits, the sky as its roof, and the subtle colors of
space – blue, deep gray-green, cloudy-white. She burst into an
exclamation of wonder that this was the very Mirror of God
reflecting the majesty of his many moods.
first time Easwaramma knew the hurry and scurry of
cities, the noise of bazaars. She greeted lions and
tigers, pythons and peacocks, and those most strange
creatures, the giraffe and the kangaroo, at the Mysore
enjoyed the cool comfort of Bangalore and weathered the
biting cold of Ootacamund on the Nilgiris and the Blue
Mountains of Tamil Nadu. She visited the fabled temples
and sacred rivers of India, while Swami showered his
constant attention upon her. This was his special grace,
she knew, for she had not yet completely severed her
maternal attachments and soared into the blissful
freedom of supreme trust and devotion.
Easwaramma would often be a part of the troupe
accompanying Baba to remote spots in Andhra Pradesh and
other parts of India and would ride in the car following
During the summer months these excursions could become
unbearably hot and Swami would ask her to relax in his
car to be cooled in the air conditioning but she always
politely declined the offer. Easwaramma never hankered
for physical comfort and was satisfied with the way
travels the length and breadth of India
When Swami and
his devotees left Lucknow for Benares, the Secretary to the
Governor drew up the order of precedence according to protocol
for the entourage of cars: the pilot car with Swami and the
Governor, the Police car, the Rolls Royce with the parents, the
Secretary's car, the car with the Editor of the Sanathana
Sarathi, and so on. Easwaramma, however, preferred to ride in
the van with her sister devotees whom she could regale with her
colorful anecdotes to the lonely luxury of the Rolls Royce.
Her Innermost Fears
treasure chest of all wisdom
a sanyasi and learned scholar, Swami
Amrithananda, came from Thiruvanamallai for Swami's
Darshan. He had lived with the great master Ramana
Maharshi for a long time and Swami invited him to stay
for several months in Puttaparthi. As it was Dasara,
Swami was blessing the devotees with discourses every
day. During one such discourse, Easwaramma asked Swami
Amrithananda in Telugu,
"Ememo cheputhu unnade,
sariga cheputhada?" meaning, "He is telling so many
things. Are they all correct?" That
was the motherly concern of Easwaramma for Swami. Though
she had seen many instances of Swami doing the
impossible, yet her heart was always anxious and her
lips silently praying for her son's welfare.
there were the village rumors: "This is not going to
last long," "Sai Baba's powers will soon be drained
away," etc. Whenever such gossip assailed her ears she
would pull out from the private treasure trove of her
memory remembrances of the incredible events she had
witnessed bearing testimony to the authenticity of the
Avathar that was now before her. On that occasion when
Swami Amrithananda replied, "Amma, he is Parabramha. He
knows everything. He is my Guru and God," it was yet
further confirmation to her of Baba's divinity.
When Swami made plans to visit the holy sites of the
Himalayas, Easwaramma became alarmed that her son might
fall victim to black magic motivated by religious
rivalry from the yogis and monks of that area.
She confided her reservations to Professor Kasturi and
he calmed them by promising to recite the Gayatri mantra
and invoke its protective powers.
"Easwaramma Was Like Yashoda" –
remind one of Mother Yashoda, who likewise often looked upon
Krishna as her son and found herself forgetful of his true
status. Perhaps God had willed it so, otherwise how could she
have experienced the bliss of mothering the master of all
creation? Comparing her to Yashoda, on Easwaramma Day 2001,
...The following week, I went
to see Kondama Raju again after visiting Subbamma's house.
He came to know that I was coming to his house. Immediately
he called Easwaramma and told her, ‘I am not going to live
any longer. Having known that my end has approached, God is
coming to shower his grace on me.' She responded in an
innocent way saying, ‘Where is God? How do you know that he
Then Kondama Raju said, ‘O
mad woman, still you are deluded by the feeling of a mother
toward her son! Look there, God is coming.' So saying, he
pointed at Me as I was entering his house. She too was aware
of My Divinity but she used to get carried away by her
motherly affection toward Me. Similar was the case with
Yashoda. Though she had seen all the fourteen worlds in
Krishna's mouth, she thought it was a dream or an illusion.
The Mother's Distress As Sathya
Becomes Sai Baba
Yes, there were
many occasions when she vacillated between being a mother and
devotee. The transition from doting mother to adoring devotee
was a long and tortuous path as her son was revealed as the
Source of divine light shining his benediction on humanity. Just
picture this scene as the anxious parents had rushed to
Uravakonda to visit Swami, who was then still a mere lad. They
were confronted with a large crowd of devotees who cheered them
as, "Matha Pitha ki jai," (Victory to the Parents!) close on the
heels of each full-throated "Sai Baba ki jai" (Victory to Sai!).
Sathya was seated on a chair with flower garlands piling up on
his right as he accepted each one that was offered and added it
to the mound. But when pressed to identify his parents, Sathya
said concisely, "They are Maya" [illusion].
"Maya!" exclaimed Easwaramma, and fell in a faint. When
she came back to her senses she sat by Sathya's side,
tears coursing down her face, for her son was but a
shadow of his former self though only three months had
elapsed since she last saw him. "Sathya, speak to your
mother!" she begged. A few minutes of silence ensued.
"Who belongs to whom?" asked Sathya, remote and cold. It
was not a question but a pronouncement. Baba continued
with her lesson. "It is all Maya, it is all Maya."
consolation was when Sathya agreed to eat some lunch.
She finished serving and nervously signaled that her
offerings be accepted. With a swift movement Sathya
swept all the food into one mass and rolled it into
three balls. "Maya! Maya!" he kept repeating.
told the stupefied mother that Sathya was bidding her
come near and she moved a few feet forward. He put one
of the balls of food in her right palm and kept his palm
before her to receive it. As she gave it back, Sathya
ate, whispering, "Maya is gone, Maya has left."
scene is unique in the annals of human experience, for
who can fathom what Easwaramma must have felt in her
heart – nothing could have prepared her for the jolt as
her little Sathya became Sai Baba, Guru to the whole
world. She alone bore the brunt of this metamorphosis of
her dearest Sathya to a discreet and distant Sai Baba.
"Maya is gone,
Maya has left" - Sathya
Prashanthi Nilayam Is Born But
The Mother Is Worried
As the years went
by Easwaramma had to adjust to many other changes that followed
the ever-growing glory of her son. She strained to retain
whatever contact she could as Swami's time became taken up by
the needs of the devotees.
In fact, she was
the one most aggrieved at what she considered Swami's
determination to keep Puttaparthi at arm's length. The existing
Mandir was already at the fringe of the village and the new site
was a half kilometer further away. Gathering all the arguments
she could drum up against the project, Easwaramma went rushing
into the hall where Baba sat among a group of devotees from
Kuppam and cried out:
"Swami, what is this I hear?
They say you are going to build a new Mandir on that hill.
How can you go to a spot that is so far from the village, a
place that is surrounded by jungle and filled with snakes
and scorpions? How will people who are old and sick and
mothers with tiny children get to you? Aren't you going to
bother hereafter with their troubles? Are you going to deny
them your Darshan? What of the fate of those who come to you
in the future? You have the mark of the wheel [the chakra]
under your foot and you will never stay in one place!" she
went on agitatedly, "You must always be climbing a hill or
crossing a river to find a place to sit singing bhajans.
Which godforsaken place have you found now? Don't you know
that you must consult astrologers before you think of moving
anywhere? And, listen to me," she warned, "this Mandir is
enough for you. It is better to have a small place that is
filled with people than a huge building half empty!"
There was no interruption to
this torrent of protest. Swami sat in patient silence
letting her have her say and merely smiled at the end of it
all. "Speak to me! Tell me something in reply!" she
exclaimed at last in vexation.
Swami softened. "Why do you
bother with people's talk?" he gently asked and assured her,
"There will be no jungle and no snakes when I go there.
There will be hundreds of pilgrims pouring in every day –
and that place will become a Shirdi, a Tirupati, and a
by this ringing pronouncement, Easwaramma fell back on
her eldest son as her Court of Last Resort. Swami must
be persuaded to contain himself within the Puttaparthi
Mandir, she pleaded. Seshama Raju wrote to Swami voicing
their protests, but the letter he received in reply
rendered them even more breathless. Such immeasurable
audacity from a mere sixteen-year-old! He was not to be
considered a "son" any longer, Sathya wrote. It was the
result of his own will that he had come as man among men
in order to liberate all, both the good and the bad from
misery. He went on to claim that millions from the four
quarters of the world will come seeking him and soon
those standing at the far edge of the crowd would
consider themselves lucky if they could but get Darshan
of an orange speck in the distance.
"Millions will come?
Here? Where would they stay or stand?"
Easwaramma wondered as she sent up frantic supplications
to the gods to solve this conundrum of strange events
that threatened to overwhelm them all.
Prasanthi Mandir in the 1950s
she witnessed Swami's miracles in the company of others, her
response was typically more anxiety rather than awe. She
calculated that one miracle would lead to another, for those
attracted would clamor for it again and again. She feared that
every miracle would drain Swami's spiritual power.
A few townsfolk had whispered in her ear that his power would
not last long for he was using it up at a fast pace. She had
dared to warn Swami once or twice about this prospect but had
received in reply only a loud, "Bah! I must make everyone happy.
I have come for this, to lead the poor and the miserable into
Ananda. Their Ananda [bliss] is the food that sustains me."
Easwaramma was apprehensive of the growing number of
devotees and losing her Sathya. On the eve of His
ceremonial move to the new Prashanthi Mandir in 1950,
she seized the opportunity and secured a boon from Swami
that he would have his dining room on the east side of
the upper floor even though he had chosen the rooms at
the other end in which to live.
very strict in enforcing the rule that men and women
must keep apart, so while the men used the staircase at
the west end, Easwaramma and her daughters climbed up
the one at the east side and spoke to him there. They
were no longer allowed free entry into his apartment.
would be waiting and waiting anxiously in the dining
room and only when they were almost desperate would he
come, sauntering along the veranda. He came to give
Darshan and not really to eat. Sitting at the small
table he would finger one or two of the carefully
prepared and nervously offered items, utter a few
replies to their questions and rise, humming a tune, to
return to the quarters now inaccessible to them. Swami,
like Shirdi Baba, allowed devotees to place offerings on
the table, but the hope that he would eat something from
these was a vain one on most days.
familiar days at the old Mandir were gone forever. But
Swami, in his compassion, granted Easwaramma a few
minutes of access to him whenever she needed the healing
touch of his vibhuthi or relief from routine.
many of her sisters and brothers, was pestered by follies and
fears when worldly desires clashed in conflict.
Swami guided her into the realm of happiness,
goodness, and wisdom. He raised her whom he had chosen as the
Mother to the status of his foremost pupil and led her from
perplexity to preeminent faith in the Divinity that deludes us
as diversity yet stands ready to help pierce the veil of Maya
and realize the Eternal Truth behind the game of life he so
The Lord Resides
In Puttaparthi…Thanks To The Mother
another boon the Mother secured from Lord Sai that
literally shaped the mission of Sai and made Puttaparthi
what it is today. Four years ago Swami recounted this
incident during the Dasara celebrations. He said:
Maharani of Mysore,
coffee planter Sakamma, and Desaraj Arasu, the
maternal uncle of Mysore Maharaja, were among those
who used to come here [in the 1940s]. One day they
prayed, "It is difficult for us to come here often.
Hence, please come and settle in Mysore. We shall
build a big mansion for You."I told, "I don't want
palatial buildings. I want to be here."
That night, Mother
Easwaramma came to Me with tears in her eyes and
said, "Swami, people want to take You here and there
for their selfish purposes. If you leave Puttaparthi
I will give up my life. Please promise me that You
will remain in Puttaparthi forever." I gave her My
word that I would never leave Puttaparthi. This is
why I have constructed many buildings in the Ashram
for the comfort and convenience of devotees.
"You will remain
in Puttaparthi forever"- Easwaramma
So it is the
Mother to whom mankind owes Swami's allegiance to his birthplace
and his gift to us of a beautiful and sublime ashram and temple
which have now become a spiritual lighthouse for the entire
world. In fact, as time passed, Mother herself found it
increasingly irksome to live in her village home. She could not
endure the pettiness of caste-bred conflicts and began to sense
more and more pollution in the village sky. Scandal, slander,
eavesdropping, trickery, and teasing were the sport of the
disbelievers. Mother found the atmosphere suffocating and with
Swami's permission stayed within the premises of Prashanthi
Mandir. Swami arranged for her to reside in a small cozy room on
the ground floor of the Mandir itself and she felt very
comfortable in the company of women devotees, guiding,
encouraging, consoling and caring for them.
lead to Prasanthi - the Eternal Abode of Sai
Women's Well-Being And
Welfare – Her Passion
Easwaramma had a
soft heart especially towards women who were widowed by fate and
ostracized by society as if their misfortune was infectious. She
also sought out young women deserted by their husbands and left
alone and helpless. Many such women were brought by their
parents or kinsmen so that they might recover from the shock and
renew their lives. She discovered that a large number of women
who were brought to Puttaparthi were afflicted by "ghosts" and
these victims of dark spirits were amenable to the softness and
sweetness that emanated from her heart.
A boon for
with which she treated these women blossomed as she
watched Swami healing the stricken. He showered
compassion on them and applied vibhuthi on their brows.
When they were restored to normalcy and returned home,
Swami used to narrate the reasons why their thoughts
went awry and their words were soaked in spite.
Listening to Him, Easwaramma decided that she would not
condemn or ridicule any woman on the basis of her
apparent faults or failings for they were only, she
knew, the results of persecution and poverty. The Mother
thus became more than their own mother to a growing
number of sisters in distress.
Mother possessed a rich spring of native wisdom (medha)
with which she quenched the thirst of the desolate and
deprived. She not only knew the simple folk remedies for
physical illnesses but also many "psychotherapeutic
strategies" (to use an aristocratic word) that could
demolish depression and remove fear from the minds of
those who came to her.
They often confided to her what they would not tell
their own mothers. Her sympathy in listening unlocked
the chambers of their hearts wherein their agony was
interned. She tolerated the long narrations, never
evincing impatience, boredom, or judgment, and the
teardrops that shone in her eyes were sufficient to
drown their distress.
She was happy beyond words that Swami accorded such an
honored status to motherhood.
During the Nine Days of Dasara celebrations in
Puttaparthi women gathered in the Prayer Hall every
morning and evening to worship the Cosmic Feminine as
Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi. Mother was
also pleased that women were permitted and encouraged to
recite the mystic syllable OM.
In truth, the
taboo was so inculcated in womenfolk that they had never dared
to challenge it. Mother felt that women should not be denied
access to the presence of God, and if OM is the purest sound and
symbol of the Impersonal, women also had a right to invoke
it.She told Swami how happy she was at this, his singular
Blessing to women of all castes and races.
Serving The Needy
Gladdened Her Heart
There was another
event that was planned and consummated at Puttaparthi by Swami
early in 1968 which touched her motherly heart and brought her
immense satisfaction – the Optical Diseases Diagnosis and
Treatment Camp which lasted ten days. Four thousand patients
were examined and more than a thousand operations were performed
to restore vision to those blinded by cataracts, glaucoma, etc.
Groups of old men and women led by their children and
grandchildren came hobbling along the village roads to the
Nilayam. Easwaramma had never realised how many there were in
need of the help Swami offered. There was great enthusiasm among
the devotees, men and women, to serve them. More than a hundred
women devotees volunteered to nurse the female patients and
Easwaramma was with them, elated at the promise that awaited the
sightless multitude. The Mother was at ease and full of joy as
thousands of indigent and ailing villagers were fed and clothed,
repaired and rehabilitated.
encouraged her to share in the service activities and
commissioned her to hand out saris to the women. Easwaramma was
delighted at the chance and by the gleam of gratitude in their
eyes as the women took the saris in their hands. She had learnt
the art of enthusiastic giving from Swami, as he in turn placed
dhotis and towels in the palsied hands of the sons of toil.
She experienced the thrill of sister meeting sister when the
sari brought them together. Earlier, when Easwaramma walked
through the long rows of women with bandaged eyes who groped for
her touch, they had sensed the presence of the Mother beside
each of them
"Easwaramma – An
Embodiment Of Sacrifice" – Baba
her virtues as an ideal for our modern society, during
his discourse on Eswaraamma Day 2000, Swami remarked:
Easwaramma was born
in such a poor family that she did not even have
proper food to eat. All that she had to eat was ragi
sankati (gruel prepared from a coarse grain).
Easwaramma was illiterate. When I see the egoistic
attitude, perverted mentality and ostentatious
behavior of the present day educated people, I feel
it was better that Easwaramma did not have any
When I was seven and
a half years old, I used to teach Pandhari bhajans
to small children in our village. Easwaramma and
Subbamma used to feel ecstatic watching Me sing
Pandhari bhajans and dance to their rhythm.
Sometimes her husband Pedda Venkama Raju would give
Easwaramma some money for the household expenditure.
Once two annas were remaining with her out of this
money. One could buy two bags of puffed rice for two
annas in those days. So Easwaramma bought two bags
of puffed rice with the two annas and distributed it
to the children. She always used to give away
whatever she had with her. She was the embodiment of
sacrifice. She would talk lovingly to all those who
came to her. When devotees would feel sad that Swami
was ignoring them, she would console them saying,
"Whatever Swami does is for your own good."
virtues concealed in her diminutive frame
She Was Always There For
There are any
number of instances when Easwaramma was unable to bear the
suffering of a devotee and went straight to Swami and pleaded on
their behalf. If ever she took any liberty of her accessibility
to Swami, it was for the sake of some distressed and
disconsolate soul. In one instance there was a couple from West
Godavari who had come with a terribly sick child and had waited
in Puttaparthi for a week. Due to financial constraints they
were not in a position to extend their stay and were about to
leave crestfallen. As a last resort they met Easwaramma, and
when the Mother heard their plight she took the boy by his hand
and immediately led him upstairs to Swami's room and pleaded
with him to cure the child. Swami gave her a patient hearing and
then calmly said, "Chustanu" meaning, "I will see." But
no, she was not satisfied and insisted that Swami show mercy to
the poor family now…and Swami finally gave in to her prayers and
healed the child. As is said, a mother's prayers never go
Prashanthi Nilayam Mandir was constructed, the Mother who did
not want to miss an opportunity to be beside her son chose to
live in the Prashanthi temple itself. This was a boon for the
devotees for they benefitted immensely from her comforting
advice, caring counsel, and ever-ready-to-help attitude. She was
accessible to all and devotees found in her someone genuinely
interested in their welfare.
In those days entire
families would come to Puttaparthi and as the Mother
interacted freely with everyone, they would confide
in her their problems and worries to such an extent
that she brought twenty members for an interview.
Swami had graciously permitted the family to perform
Padapuja (worshipping the feet of the Lord
with rosewater, flowers, etc.) to him.
As they did the
ceremonial rites, they beseeched him to grant them
the opportunity to perform Puja to Mother
Easwaramma, who was seated beside him. Swami
initially refused saying, "No. Do not call her as
she will start recommending," but the devotees
persisted until Swami gave in and Mother Easwaramma
reluctantly acceded to their request. All the while
the Puja was going on, Mother was intently
watching the members of this family from West
Godavari and as predicted by Swami, she started
"recommending" saying, "Swami, that boy does not
study. Please give him vibhuti so that he gets good
marks," and "Swami, look at that poor girl. She has
been suffering so long. You must cure her," and so
That was the
beauty of her goodness. Easwaramma
met untold numbers of devotees who would cry out their heart to
her and pour forth their sorrows. She would listen patiently and
not only remember their problems in detail but bring them to
Swami's notice whenever she found an opportunity.
On Ladies Day in
2002, Swami acknowledged this noble trait of Easwaramma.
Griham Ammayi, the mother of
this body, used to speak to all with love. She could never
withstand the suffering of others. She would come upstairs
and plead with Me, saying, "Swami, they are in a sorrowful
state. Please call them and talk to them." Her heart was
filled with compassion. That is why her fame has spread so
much. In order to attain a good name you have to utter
sacred words and help others.
Whenever Mother Easwaramma
came to Me with such a plea, I used to pretend to be angry
and chide her, saying, "Why are you coming here with
recommendations? I don't want to listen to them." But she
would persist and continue to plead, "Swami, please take
pity on them. They are in dire need of Your help. Please
talk to them once." I used to be happy thinking, "How
compassionate and kindhearted she is."
Truly, she had a
heart of gold. Never was there even the slightest trace of ego
in her that she was "The Divine Mother." She mingled
unselfconsciously with everyone like any other simple village
lady and shunned special recognition, undue attention or
A Loving Mother For All
In the late 1960s
there were a few brick houses situated around the Mandir. One
morning, a lady who lived alone in one of these structures was
burning charcoal for cooking when the smoke overwhelmed her and
she fainted and fell unconscious to the floor. When she did not
come out by 10:00, some people sensed something amiss and broke
open the door to find her lying unconscious.
information reached Swami, he was far from pleased and told the
"It is one's duty to know the
well-being of one's neighbours. The least one can do is inquire
how they are, what they need and the state of their well-being.
Every day when you get up, find out how your neighbours are.
This is a pleasant thing to do in the morning."
These words of Bhagavan touched Mother Easwaramma's heart. From
that day onwards she took it upon herself to go to each and
every house in the morning and personally find out whether all
happened that the Mother was on her daily rounds,
checking from house to house as to whether everything
was fine, when she tripped over a pile of bricks and
sprained her leg. She was in acute pain and unable to
even stand. Immediately some devotees took her to the
nearest house and the message was relayed to Swami, who
rushed to her and jovially asked, "Why do you have to
move like this to every house unnecessarily?"
She replied, "Swami, nothing is
impossible for you. You can get all the work done
without going anywhere. But such a thing is not possible
for me." Swami merely smiled, created
vibhuti and said the pain would soon stop. The next day
she was fine.
genuine love that Mother Easwaramma had for devotees was
something very laudable.She spoke sweetly at all times,
her speech emanating patience and forbearance and fully
free from pretense with no sharp edges to hurt the
hearer. During the time Swami was still at the village
Mandir, there were many women apparently "possessed" by
spirits who were brought to his presence by distraught
unfortunates screamed, sulked, moaned, and ran
helter-skelter. Sometimes their condition had been
aggravated by quacks who had treated them with the rod.
Easwaramma offered the soothing balm of sympathy to the
victims and a few minutes with her was an effective
tranquillizer which calmed their explosive emotions.
Whenever people called her Mother, it was with quivering
lips and tears glistening in their eyes.
Three Selfless Desires –
Three Models for Mankind
There is perhaps
one legend that will always dance around her hallowed name, and
that is her direct inspiration for the mammoth social service
projects which make the name Sathya Sai shine throughout the
world. On several occasions Swami has recalled this endearing
facet of her life.
Once she told Me, "Swami, our
Puttaparthi is a small village. Since there is no school in
this village, the children are forced to walk long distances
to attend schools in the neighboring villages. I know that
You are the ocean of compassion. Please construct a small
school in this village." I asked where she wanted the school
to be built. She said she had a piece of land behind her
house. She wanted the school to be constructed there. As
desired by her, I got the school constructed. Though it was
a small school, the inaugural function was a grand affair
attended by many devotees.
inspiration behind the Sai Mission
The next day Easwaramma
expressed her happiness over the inaugural function and said
that she had one more desire. She wanted a hospital also to
be built in the village. She said, "Swami, I don't want to
put You to trouble. If You are troubled, the whole world
will be in trouble and if You are happy the whole world will
be happy. So if it gives You happiness, please construct a
small hospital." As per her wish, I got the hospital
constructed. Bejawada Gopal Reddy, a highly reputed person
in those days, was invited to inaugurate the hospital. The
inauguration was attended by thousands of people from the
neighboring villages. Easwaramma did not imagine that this
would be such a grand affair.
Next day, she came up to Me
and said, "Swami, it does not matter even if I die now. I
have no more worries, you have fulfilled my desires and
mitigated the suffering of the villagers to a great extent."
I said, "If you have any more desires, ask Me now." She
replied hesitantly that she had yet another small desire.
"You know that the river Chithravathi is in spate during the
rainy season. But in summer it dries to a trickle and people
do not have drinking water. So, please see that some wells
are dug in this village." I told her that I would not stop
with these small wells and that I would provide drinking
water to the entire Rayalaseema region. Easwaramma said, "I
don't know what Rayalaseema is. I am satisfied if our
village is provided with drinking water."
Thus it is that
Easwaramma's vision and compassion lit up the lives of countless
numbers who are benefiting from her unselfish wishes. This was
not merely an ideal she encouraged her son to make real but one
she expressed actively through her love for all
1954 - Swami inaugurates the
Hospital – A Dream Come True For Her
The Mother was
perhaps the person most gratified when Swami
announced that a twelve-bed hospital would be raised
on the hill to the south of the Mandir. For her
part, while Swami was at the village Mandir and even
later, she could avail herself of the expert medical
advice of Dr. Lakshmi, the famous physician and
gynecologist from Nellore who stayed for weeks in
the presence of Swami.
Whenever she, her
daughters, or others of the Ratnakaram family
received the kind attention of that doctor,
Easwaramma prayed to her to examine, diagnose, and
prescribe medicines for other village women too.
She longed for a lady
doctor who could stay at the Mandir year in and year
out and help women in times of dire need. So when
the news of the hospital came to her, she was
Easwaramma joined the
women devotees hauling sand, stone, bricks, and
cement from the road up to the construction site and
lifted bricks herself, brushing aside protests from
the women. When the wards were ready, she sought out
women patients, brought them to the doctor, pleaded
that they be admitted, and looked after them until
they could move about and take their normal share in
the work at home and in the fields.
Jayalakshmi, who served in the Sathya Sai Hospital, related that
Easwaramma was a pioneer in serving pregnant women and babies.
She advised against magical rites and the offering of fowls and
lambs to Maariamma and lesser deities to drive diseases away.
She sat with the patients while they were questioned, waited for
the diagnosis, and held them firm as the dreaded needle was
administered. When ladies were admitted as patients, she climbed
the hill to the hospital to make sure they know there was a
Mother interested in their recovery.
General Hospital during the early 1980s
Easwaramma – A Living
Goddess For The Devotee
Bottu, who knew her well, was warm in her admiration.
"She had no trace of
envy and she never relished scandal. Her speech was
sweet with affection and compassion. Her complexion
of gold-brown, the eyes collyrium bordered, the
magnum dot of kumkum shimmering on her broad brow,
they all reminded us of the popular image of the
prostrated whenever they chanced to meet her and sought
to earn her maternal blessings. Her wide eyes gleamed
and her toothless mouth was half-open as she smiled in
recognition, satisfaction or appreciation. They spoke to
her in various languages and received her reply in the
one tongue available to all on such occasions – the
language of the heart.
devotees discovered in the Mother a never failing source
of strength and wisdom. They sought her out more and
more often and honored her as the Mother, assigning her
distinct roles during festivals and holy days.
Easwaramma did not yield as soon as the women surrounded
her and pleaded that she should guide them or bless
them, but how long could she keep them at bay?
yearned for her blessings...
dedicated to the worship of Varalakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth
ready to grant boons) or Gowri (the fair Consort of Shiva,
mother of Ganesh), she had to accept the first offering of
homage from every woman who needed her. During the nine days of
Navarathri, the Festival of the Mother, she was honored
for the first three days as Durga, the next three days as
Lakshmi, and on the last three as Saraswathi.
During The Festival Of
these days Swami directed the women devotees to assemble
at the Prayer Hall of the Nilayam every morning and
evening to worship the Mother Goddess reciting the 1008
Names which attempt to capture a glimpse of her Glory.
Easwaramma vehemently declined to be installed on this
occasion as the visible symbol of the Divine Mother.
wriggled out of participation since the women insisted
that she must at least be seated at the head of the row.
She preferred to enter unannounced, sit through the
ritual unnoticed, and slip away quietly. Such was her
the Jhoola evening she had to yield to their wishes.
Swami's darshan while on a floral swing was the
valedictory event in Navarathri. Women devotees offered
fruits, flowers, and sweets and arranged lamps in
attractive patterns before him. Arati would be offered
when he came off the swing, so when Swami indicated he
intended to leave and the camphor flame should be
readied, a series of lamps were waved before him by
women singing traditional lilts.
Easwaramma was then sought out and brought to the
Nilayam to wave the first Arati lamp, despite her
protestations that the privilege must be granted to
someone else who was more devoted and deserving than she
fascinated the Mother...
During The Lord's
Every Hindu child
has his "birthday" celebrated at home as a festival with extra
prayers and special offerings of sweets to the family deity. The
child is seated facing East on a sanctified plank. The mother
pours a few drops of oil on the head and others follow her. The
child is given a ceremonial bath and dressed in new clothes. He
has to touch the feet of elders and sit in the shrine while
prayers are offered by the parents for his long life, health,
progress, and prosperity.
Nilayam was inaugurated on Swami's Birthday in 1950. Previous to
that year, the Birthday had been rather informal. Swami
delighted the Mother and the Father and their sons and daughters
by visiting their home and going through the ritual of lunch in
their company. After the parents had placed a few drops of oil
on his cluster of hair, the ceremonial bath was administered and
Swami fulfilled the longing of one devotee by accepting the robe
and dhoti he placed at his feet. All those present then touched
his feet praying for boons and blessings.
The new Prashanthi Nilayam, however, challenged the
devotees to inaugurate a more impressive though still
intimate celebration of the birth of their Lord Sai.
Elderly women gathered at the Nilayam in the early hours
of the 23rd of November. Each one had a plate with piles
of flowers, fruits, sweets, coconuts, turmeric, kumkum,
rice grains, betel leaves and areca, sandal paste,
blocks of jaggery, glass bangles, and other auspicious
pots filled with consecrated water were carried on their
hips. One of the group bore a silver plate with a silk
sari upon it. A few elderly men joined them with a silk
dhoti for the Father and they proceeded to Puttaparthi
village preceded by pipers and drummers. When they
reached the Ratnakaram home, they announced to the
parents that it was the Birthday of Bhagavan and invited
them to Prashanthi Nilayam. One could sense their
awkwardness for both of them would rather be left alone
than placed before the floodlights on the center of the
Nevertheless, the Mother and Pedda Venkama Raju
satisfied the wishes of the thousands present and were
themselves filled with gratitude for the opportunity
given to them by Swami.
As soon as they stood before him they lost all sense of
time and space. Easwaramma placed flowers on Swami's
feet and stood up to dip a rose in oil.
lifted her palm to drop the oil on the son's hair, he bent low
so that the head would be within easy reach.The father, too, did
the same and as both of them descended from the dais, the
devotees hailed the occasion, expressing their joy in loud
acclaim. It was only then that Easwaramma became aware of the
hall and the crowd, the Nilayam, and the village.
It was an embarrassing moment for her
but she was soon relieved, for she found another wedded couple
climbing the steps to place flowers at Swami's feet and apply
oil on his hair. Swami used to select about eight others from
different linguistic and geographical regions to share in the
joyous ceremony who were invariably old in age and rooted in
faith. Easwaramma shunned publicity and prominence and preferred
to lose her identity in a group of devotees, but on the Birthday
she had to submit to what she dreaded most – a public and
preeminent role. Humility was her very nature and publicity
anathema to her.
The Ideal Hindu Wife
humility was no empty pose. She was very shy before the camera
and argued persistently against being photographed. This was not
the false humility that parades itself to draw attention to the
possessor of that virtue. Many are proud that they are not proud
and protest against praise but are secretly sad if it is denied.
But Easwaramma was temperamentally allergic to the limelight.
She was raised in a cloistered hamlet and stuck to the boundary
stones her forefathers set up to demarcate the fields of
brought women from all the corners of the world,
speaking a hundred languages, as well as from all
castes, classes, and creeds to her door. She let them
come and speak what they wished but seldom sought to
know what their words meant, for as she confessed,
"Why bother yourself with wishes you cannot fulfill and
problems you cannot solve?" She had no
desire to mislead visitors that she had special access
to Sathya Sai and could extract his grace for them. She
was aware that there were millions who deserved his
grace and that she was only another candidate seeking to
Easwaramma possessed the age-old reverence for the
husband which prescribed mutual distance and silence and
proscribed joint appearances on the same seat or even
the same room. She retreated into the inner apartments
whenever Pedda Venkama Raju was around and avoided all
chances of a dialogue. But as an obligatory duty, on
Swami's Birthday they submitted to the demands of the
devotees and allowed themselves to be honored as the
Parents and to be taken in procession to the Nilayam.
When she traveled to Badrinath and Benares with Swami,
in accordance with the ancient injunctions, the sacred
idols had to be offered worship by the husband and wife
together. In fact, the absence of the wife might even
annul the fruits of the worship. Every gift made by the
man has to be endorsed by the woman. He holds the coins
in his hand and waits for the wife to pour some water on
them before they are handed over. On these and all other
occasions, Easwaramma was the model Hindu wife.
piousness and politeness of Easwaramma apart from her
devotion to the Lord won the love and respect from the
women of the village and those who cultivated the lands
of the Rathnakaram family.
Every Saturday, she visited the Hanuman
temple along with the other women of her age. The idol
of Hanuman had been installed centuries ago as the
guardian of the fort that enclosed the village. On
Mondays, the day dedicated to Shiva, she offered worship
at the Shiva temple and whenever possible, visited the
Venugopalaswamy temple too.
A Rare Blessing – Amazing
never boast about her status as the mother of Sri Sai. Swami has
oft said her simplicity and humility are an example for all of
humankind to emulate. Like the other devotees, she addressed
Bhagavan as Swami and was full of reverence for him. It was
these virtues, along with her golden heart, that made Easwaramma
so very special. And Swami too rewarded her with many beautiful
her Samadhi anniversary celebration in 1999, Swami said:
…From that day onward, [after
Kondama Raju's demise] Easwaramma never stayed at home and
started staying in Prasanthi Nilayam. Every day, in the morning
and evening she used to come upstairs and talk with Swami. She
also understood My Divinity very well. When I appeared in the
form of Lord Shiva to her, she would ask, "What Swami? Why are
you adorning the snakes around your neck?" I would act innocent,
"Well, I don't have snakes on Me." She would move away saying,
"Look, there are some snakes inside." But later, on not finding
any snake inside, she would ask for forgiveness. Like this on
many occasions she had the experience of My Divinity.
Ramachandra has come again
of her greatest blessings was a vision she had a few
days prior to passing away which she confided to another
elderly lady. We know of this directly from Pedda Bottu:
‘Pedda Bottu,' Easwaramma said to me, ‘I want to
tell you something that happened to me. But tell no
one else.' I sat closer and said, ‘What is it, tell
me.' ‘Our Swami is God!' she whispered. I laughed.
‘Why do you laugh?' she asked. ‘No, no, I was not
laughing at you. I am only happy you have realized
it now. Well, tell me, how did you come to know?' I
asked. ‘You know I have been having high fever for
four days. Swami came to me then.'
‘In a dream?' I asked, ‘No,' she said, ‘He really
did come to me when I was rolling restlessly in bed.
'Ammayi, how do you feel?' He asked. ‘My whole body
is aching,' I replied, looking up at him. Then what
can I tell you? It was not he that you and I know.
It was Ramachandra with Kireetam and Kodandam (Crown
and Bow)! I raised my folded hands and struggled to
sit up and get out of bed. But in a few moments he
became Swami again, gave me Vibhuthi Prasadam and
said, ‘The fever will go,' and went."
‘You are indeed blessed. What a rare piece of luck!'
I exclaimed. ‘No one of us has had a vision of Sai
Rama as Ramachandramurthy while fully awake and
The Flame And The Fire
This vision and
revelation was surely the fittest prelude to the mergence of
that sacred ray in the Paramjyoti, the Supreme Flame, from which
it had emerged. Swami, the embodiment of that Paramjyoti,
himself disclosed the events and incidents of Easwaramma's last
day, May 6, 1972, during one of his discourses on the 6th of
May, the day dedicated to her memory. He said:
It was the day before her
passing away and I suddenly asked her, in the midst of
casual conversation, "Tell me, is there anything else you
desire?" She said, "I have finished my pilgrimages to all
the temples. I have seen the biggest temple of all and the
God that resides there. I have no desire for anything more."
But I knew that a small wish still lurked in a corner of her
mind – she wished to give a gift to a granddaughter on her
birthday. So I insisted that she should accept Rs. 500, go
to the bazaar and buy whatever she wished. I sent her along
with a companion and she returned happy with what she had
On the 6th of
May, 1983, Swami continued the narrative, speaking in greater
detail of Easwaramma's Day of Deliverance:
This day is
Easwaramma Day. The significance of the day is that
it is celebrated as Children's Day, a day when
little children are to be reminded of the ideal, a
day when she presented an ideal. No one can escape
death, but the aim of everyone should be to remind
oneself at the time of death of the divine or have
some holy or sacred thoughts. The importance of this
day is known to many. There is a saying in Telugu:
"The proof of the good is the way they die." Genuine
devotion is evidenced during the last moments. I
shall point out a small incident concerning the
goodness of Easwaramma.
classes were on at Bangalore. In the morning at 7:00
breakfast had to be served to the students. They
went round with Nagara Sankeertan and returned at
6:00. I gave them Darshan at its close. Then I went
for my bath. Meanwhile, Easwaramma had finished her
bath. She drank her coffee as usual quite happily
and took her seat on the inner veranda. All of a
sudden proceeding to the bathroom, she cried out,
"Swami, Swami, Swami!" At this, I responded,
"Coming, coming." Within that period she breathed
her last. What greater sign of goodness is needed?
She had no need to be served and nursed. Swami will
come to the memory at that time only for a very few.
The mind will usually seek and stay on some object
or the other, some jewelry or valuables.
and the 'coming'
The Samadhi Mandir in
From the ground floor
she called, "Swami! Swami!" I replied, "Coming,
coming," and she was gone. It was like the
elephant's calling (Gajendra of Indian mythology)
and the Lord proceeding to bless it – the two wires
achieving connection, the release happening
This is the authentic
consummation that life must strive for. Beside her
at the time she had her daughter Venkamma and her
granddaughter Sailaja but she called out only for
Swami. Getting this yearning at the final moment is
the fruit of holy purity. It is the sign of an
ideal, adorable life. Such attitude must emerge of
its own accord and not by means of some external
force. Here is an example to learn from.
Child - A Darling Sathya
Truly, the whole life of Easwaramma is a shining example and
ideal for Sai devotees to emulate. "Amazing love for Swami and
constantly seeking happiness and welfare of others" – this is
the summary of her life. She had a special love for children
because in every child she saw Sathya hiding, inviting her to
seek and succeed. Naturally, they cuddled in flocks around her.
They watched with delight the twinkle in her eyes and the
wrinkles on her cheeks and chin as she joked and laughed. They
were amused and their attention was aroused when her gold and
glass bangles jingled as she gesticulated, while stressing a
point or underlining a caution. When she found a child chubby,
she squeezed and pulled its cheeks to see the patch of pink, the
thrill the impact lent to the angel face.
She could be easily inveigled
into the narration of hair-raising or heart-warming
tales in order to keep the children wrapped in
excitement. Her pleasing
pliant voice reproduced the screams of the kidnapped
heroine, the wail of the wounded demon, the plaint of
the frightened son, the roar of the victorious warrior,
and the crooning of the child cast on the jungle track.
In fact she was quick in adding to her repertory stories
about Sai Baba of Shirdi and Swami.
The children watched the
pictures she so realistically designed and described –
the white umbrella with tassels of gold held over a pair
of sandals, the emergence of the lion-faced God from the
marble pillar of the royal audience hall, the dance of
the child on the hood of an angry serpent. Easwaramma
forgot her physical ailments, the deeper deprivations,
and the assaults on her inner peace when engaged in
storytelling. Invariably she rounded up the tales with
emphatic words on humility and honesty, love and
loyalty. These lessons were lapped up by the children
for they were soaked in the syrup of her affection.
She appreciated the earnestness and
enthusiasm of the young. Her grandsons were a bright lot
and she insisted that they join higher classes and
educate themselves to the utmost. She loved to encourage
the sons and grandsons of others, too. She prevailed
upon Swami to agree with her choice and send money to
them to meet their tuition fees and the cost of books
and boarding. She felt pained whenever she discovered
that the dispatch had suffered delay.
"The boys cannot study well now," she used to say, "they
will be too worried to read in peace."
When she found that a name had been dropped because the
boy had left school, she tried to persuade the parents
to keep him enrolled. To
immortalize this warm love and moving concern she had
for children, Swami established the Easwaramma High
School within two months of her passing away in
Puttaparthi. Every year hundreds of village children
graduate from this school confident and conscientious to
pursue higher studies and make their parents proud.
Lovable to all
Easwaramma Day Is A Children's Day
May 6th is also celebrated as Children's Day in all Sai
Organizations throughout the country. Bal Vikas groups in every
Sai Center perform songs, dances, and value games glorifying God
and expressing their gratitude to the blessed Mother for having
gifted them with the most precious possession of their lives,
their Swami. In the divine presence too every year small
children perform various plays and Swami lovingly showers them
with gifts and love after their presentation.
almost every Easwaramma Day, Swami gives a discourse and lauds
the devotion and love she held for him and the compassion and
concern she showed towards others. In these discourses Swami has
shared events which provided deeper insights into her noble life
and character. For instance, on Easwaramma Day in 1999, Swami
The eternal inspiration
on Shivaratri day, after I had completed My
discourse and the Lingas were ready to emerge from
My mouth, I sat on the chair and was in severe pain.
Seeing Me suffering, Easwaramma got up from the
gathering, came up to Me and said, "Swami, why do
You suffer like this? Come inside, come inside." I
said I would not come inside and rather than watch
My suffering, she went inside. As soon as she left,
Hiranyagarbha Linga emerged. All the devotees burst
into thunderous applause. Hearing this, she came
back, but by then the Linga had already emerged and
I was showing it to the devotees. All the people got
up to have a glimpse of the Linga. As a result,
Easwaramma could not see it.
Next day she pleaded with Me
to show the Linga to her. I said I had given it to somebody.
But she said, "Swami, I have not seen. I want to see." I
told her that she would see in the future anyway. She said,
"I do not want to put You to inconvenience," and went away.
She never had put Me to trouble any time. Whenever she asked
Me for something she would come back and ask if she had
given any trouble. To all the devotees who came she used to
entreat not to cause any inconvenience to Swami. She used to
be very much worried whenever any minister came to have My
darshan. The situation in those days was such that even a
policeman with a red cap was enough to frighten the
villagers. Easwaramma used to be very much afraid of the
ministers, thinking that they might cause some problem to
Me. This was only the result of her sacred love for Me.
The Eternal Bond Of Love
They say great
and noble souls never die but continue to inspire after death.
Easwaramma was one such being who unceasingly is concerned about
Swami even after her death. During a discourse on May 6, 2001,
to the utter amazement of the audience Swami disclosed:
You may be aware or not, but
even after thirty years of her passing away, Mother
Easwaramma continues to express her love for Swami in a
number of ways. Even to this day, she moves around in her
physical body. At times she comes to Me and expresses her
motherly concern for My well-being.
Once she cautioned Me
not to accept a handkerchief from everybody. I told
her that I had to accept when people offered it with
devotion. She said, "Swami, no doubt there are
crores of such noble persons. But there are also a
few evil-minded persons who may smear poison on the
handkerchief and offer it to You. This can prove
dangerous when You use it to wipe your lips." I
promised her that I would follow her advice.
Even to this day she
makes her appearance in My room. The boys who sleep
in My room have witnessed this. Whenever she comes
and talks to Me, they sit up on their beds and
listen. One day I asked the boys for a belt to keep
the silk dhoti tight around My waist. The belt they
gave Me had a shiny buckle and could be seen through
the robe I wear. I did not want to use it lest
people should think that Sai Baba wears a gold belt.
After this, one day Easwaramma came to My room early
in the morning and started talking to Me. Then
Sathyajith, Sainath and Srinivas woke up and wanted
to know with whom I was conversing. They wondered
how anyone could enter My room since the lift was
locked and the key was with them. Then I told that
Griham Ammayi [Mother Easwaramma] had come. I showed
them the belt that she gave me. It had no buckle.
There are many such noble mothers in this world but
Easwaramma was the chosen one. I chose her to be My
mother [cheers]. That is the intimate relationship
between Mother Easwaramma and Myself.
is alive today
Truly…The Crown Of
So that is how
intimate is the bond between Swami and Easwaramma. No doubt the
crown of motherhood was acquired by Easwaramma as a reward for
her accumulated goodness but in this life too she rose to those
heights which made a laudable example of a great devotee of the
Lord. Her love for him was unparalleled and as well as being an
ideal wife, sister, mother, and grandmother, she was a constant
source of support, inspiration and love for the village folk and
the ever-expanding Sai family. The
Lord chose her as his Mother not only as a reward for her past
deeds but also, as Prof. Kasturi noted, "in appreciation of what
she was capable of in this life." And with the
Supreme Teacher to guide her, she learned every lesson Swami
gave her with his glance, a word, a question, or a smile, and
became a living saint radiating love and purity. Ultimately, the
great soul we know as Easwaramma reached a state where she took
every event and emotion, every thought and activity as a gem set
doorway through which she could cognize the One.
Most of the content for this
cover story is taken from Prof. Kasturi's book Easwaramma -
The Chosen Mother. We have also interacted with several
long time devotees of Bhagawan and integrated their experiences
into the story.
E-Magazine, May 2006