Sri Sathya Sai Baba Avatar
The Shirdi Connection
(The Shirdi Story continues)
May 23rd 1940. The hamlet of Puttaparthi. A young lad of fourteen,
with a face radiant with compassion and love, was surrounded by the
village folk. He was apparently materializing sugar candy…out of thin
air! His father too, skeptically looked on. This was not the first
time his Sathya was putting up such a 'show'. Sathya had been behaving
strangely for quite some time, exhibiting supernatural powers. He
lectured on sublime spiritual topics, way beyond a boy of his age. The
father, and in fact, Sathya's entire family was perplexed and worried
at the same time. That day, the father could no longer tolerate this
behaviour. He was convinced that his son was possessed. May be by some
evil spirit. He took hold of a stick and demanded, addressing the
so-called spirit. "Who are you? Are you God, Ghost or Devil?".
"I am SAI BABA" came the reply.
That was the first
time the world was made aware of the Shirdi Connection.
Sathya went on "I am
Sai Baba of Shirdi. I have taken birth in your family because of the
prayers of your ancestor Venkavadhootha".
present was stunned. They hadn't heard anything, either of Shirdi or
of Sai Baba!
Someone challenged Sathya "If you are really Sai Baba, show us some
proof!" Sathya picked up a bunch of jasmine flowers and threw them on
to the ground. When they fell to the ground, they neatly arranged
themselves into the words SAI BABA, in the Telugu script.
With passing days,
Sathya only reinforced this revelation.
October 20th, 1940, at Uravakonda, He came back from school, threw his
books and declared, "I am no longer your Sathya! I am Sai Baba. I do
not belong to you. I have my work. My devotees are calling me." He
walked into the neighbor's garden, sat on a rock and gave His first
message, to the faithful who had assembled there, in the form of a
bhajan: Manasa Bhajare Gurucharanam…
Manasa Bhajare Gurucharanam
photographed the young Sai Baba sitting on the rock and leading the
bhajan. The image that was developed had a small statue of Shirdi Baba
in front of the young Sathya. Nothing strange, except for the fact
that there was never a statue in front of Sathya in the first place!
Sathya had reinforced His identity. The world now hailed Him as
Sathya Sai Baba.
The word soon spread
that the Sai Baba of Shirdi had come again, as Sai Baba of
Sai Baba born again? At, what's that place… Puttaparthi? Many of the
Devotees of the Lord of Shirdi were curious. Some came to Sathya, in
humility and faith, to see and hear their Lord again. Others came to
challenge this 'young upstart' who claimed to be Shridi Sai. They
stayed back, as believers.
Sundaramma, 105 years old, living at Prasanthi Nilayam. Back in 1910,
when she was 13 years old, her husband was working as a stationmaster
at Manmad. Manmad was just a few hours from Shirdi, the abode of Sai
Baba. The husband was a devotee of Baba and he, along with his wife,
went to have the darshan of Shirdi Baba. In that trip, Baba called the
husband and gave him a silver coin with his padukas (feet) embossed on
it. He told the husband, 'Worship these Feet everyday' (In other
words 'Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam'!).
Sacred Padukas given by Baba
rolled by and the husband passed away. In the 1960's when Sundaramma
was told by one of her friends that Sai baba had reincarnated again in
the hamlet of Puttaparthi, she wouldn't believe it. But her curiosity
got the better of her and she came to see the young Satya Sai Baba,
who claimed to be 'her' Shirdi Baba. Quite some days went by and
Sundaramma was not convinced that Satya Sai could be the same as
Shirdi Sai. She remarked to one of her friends, who was a devotee " I
will never bow down to this Baba. My lord is Shirdi Baba alone. I am
going to leave this place soon". Word reached Swami about Sundaramma's
plans. The time had come to prove to her, the Shirdi connection. One
day, He quietly walked into Sundaramma's quarters. She was cooking
something. "Sundaramma! Is it true that you want leave this place?",
He asked. "Yes Swami, I would rather go to Shirdi than stay in this
godforsaken village!" She was still cooking, her eyes not meeting
"Do you want to see
your Shirdi Baba?" , Swami asked.
"I would love to! ….But
alas! He had taken Samadhi long, long ago", said Sundaramma,
still facing the other side.
"Do you still want
to see your Shirdi Baba?" , Swami persisted.
"But how is that….
possible? He is no longer here!", she said turning back to see Swami.
And what she saw…opened
the floodgates of memories from her early years. She couldn't believe
it. Yes, He was there: Her Baba from Shirdi, in flesh and blood! With
tears in her eyes she bowed down to His feet. Time stood still….space
no longer existed…Shirdi had merged with Parthi…. only she and her SAI
And she never ever left Prasanthi Nilayam. Even to this day, in her
feeble voice, she tells the devotees, her marvelous story!
Chaitanya Jyothi museum, at Puttaparthi, showcases today one of the
greatest testimonials for the Lord's Shirdi Connection. When Swami
visited it recently, He was shown a tonga, a horse driven cart.
What was so special about this tonga? Well, this tonga
was from Chincholi, a former princely state in South India. When the
aged Queen of Chincholi met Satya Sai Baba for the first time, Swami
remarked and described how He had visited Chincholi earlier, while in
His previous body! This was in fact true! Shirdi Baba had indeed made
an extra corporeal visit to Chincholi many a time! Swami went on to
describe the quarters of the palace that He stayed in, the personal
moments that He had spent with the Raja and the Queen and of course,
the long drives He had, with the Raja, in the Tonga! The accuracy of
the details, known only to the Queen, was unbeliveble! The evidence
was impeccable. Here was the same Baba of Shirdi! The Queen was moved,
and she presented to Swami, the tonga that He had used as Shirdi Sai.
This was the very same tonga, which was shown to Swami at Chaitanya
Jyothi. When Swami saw it, He casually remarked, that there used to be
a small lantern holder, on side of the tonga, which was now
missing. It was, as though He rode in it, just yesterday!
Tonga at Chincholi
the morning of 15th October 2002, exactly 84 years after Shirdi Baba
had taken Samadhi, yet another chapter was added to the Shirdi
connection. On that Vijay Dashami morning, Swami went up the hill,
adjoining the Vidyagiri stadium. Halfway to the hilltop, between the
statues of Shiva and Krishna, was a tall statue, draped in silk,
waiting to be unveiled. Swami pressed a remote controlled button and
the silk veils fell down, to reveal the beautiful form of Shirdi Baba.
The statue of His Previous incarnation stands today, amidst the 'Grand
Gallery of Gods', in the Stadium.
Parthi Sai unvieling Shirdi Sai
Whenever Swami refers to the Shirdi Avatar, He says ' Purva
Sariramulo…' which means 'when I was in the previous body.'
The statement awakens us to the fact that He is the one who was in
Shirdi. And that now He has reincarnated in Parthi. But it also points
to a subtler and more profound truth: He transcends both the places.
He transcends time. He transcends bodies. For, He is the Spirit. The
Immortal Spirit, that reincarnates from time to time, for the
redemption of Humanity.
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
15th October 2003