(In the Words of the Authoress)
"... First of all, I had no
intention of writing this Vratha Kalpam, Then I happened to come across a
Vratha Kalpam in respect of the past avatar of Sri Shirdi Sai. It occurred
to me that if there could be a Vratha Kalpam for an avatar long past, it
should be more appropriate to have one for the living avatar who is
currently captivating and fascinating the whole world....
When I made up my mind to write
this I was staying with Dr. Saraswati in Amalapuram. Swami appeared to me in
a dream and proffered a few directions in this regard. At that time I was
planning to follow the pattern of the popular Sri Sathya Narayana Vratha
Kalpam, begin Sri Sathya Sai Vratha Kalpam with Nava Graha Sthaapana, etc.
In my dream Swami asked me why I was thinking of writing on those lines. I
replied, "I know no other way. Kindly guide me and I will follow".
Gesticulating with his hands in his characteristic way, Swami told me to
make the whole thing simple, commence with Ganapathi Pooja, follow it up
with his own Pooja and conclude with the Katha (story) Section. This book is
thus patterned on the lines indicated by Swami.
The Katha Section of Sri Sathya
Narayana Vratha Kalpam comprises stories of five devotees. Which five
devotees should I select for my book? In my dream I had forgotten to seek
Swami's directions in this regard. So I placed my problem before Sri Kasturi
and sought his help. He said, "Whose stories will you pick up? This may lead
to unpleasantness all around. Let me think over it". That night Swami
appeared in my dream and said, "You stupid, do you think that I have but a
mere five devotees only? There are lakhs of them. If you pick up any five
individuals, the others will be after you. Choosing a time when I am away,
they will twist your neck and throw your body in the Chithraavathi river.
Don't pick up any particular individual's story; write only mine own". That
settled my problem.
Next day, I was mulling over the
appropriate shape to be given to the Katha Section and how to apportion it
into five chapters. In Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram (Swami's life story) Swami
had declared that in the first 16 years he would display his leelas, in the
next 16 his mahimas and thereafter he would deliver his message and
exhortations (upadesh) and carry out his divine programme. To my great
relief, that came to my mind and offered me a clear-cut plan of action. The
Katha Section thus fell into a logical and beautiful sequence; the first
chapter is Leela Kaanda, the second Mahima Kaanda, the third Raksha Kaanda,
the fourth Siksha Kaanda, the fifth and final one Bodha Kaanda. My path was
clear and I completed the book on those lines. The finished manuscript I
kept in my box.
Then a strange thing happened. When
I opened the book one day I found that numerous additions and alterations
were made in red ink. They were all in the unmistakable hand of Swami
himself. For instance, wherever I had used the words, "Sarva Devathaa
Swaroopa", they were altered in beautiful script in red, to read, "Sarva
Devathaatheetha Swaroopa". Similarly, where I had written that "led by him
groups of children would go round the village singing devotional songs and
bhajans", it was amended to read, "go round the village, street by street,
singing devotional songs and bhajans". Elsewhere, he added in clear and
beautiful hand that "Dharma is eternal and immutable", I found that the
entire text had been gone through and amended by Swami. Unbelievable as it
may appear to readers, it is indeed the simple, plain truth. What more is
needed by way of proof to declare that Sri Sathya Sai Vratha Kalpam, as it
now stands, has the full approval of Swami? At the end, in Swasthi, I had
written that those who performed this Vratham would be rewarded with Swami's
protection. Swami amplified it saying that Swami would grant them fulfilment
of their hearts' desires and take complete care of them at all times and
with immense love.
I must add here that I had never
informed Swami that I had completed this book nor did I give him the
Astonished at what I found, I
mentioned it to Sri Kasturi. He remarked, "Centuries ago, when
Saint-composer Pothana was translating the epic Maha Bhagavatham from
Sanskrit to Telugu, Sri Rama himself, it is said, contributed to his text.
Blessed are you. Please safeguard your manuscript". I have accordingly kept
it in safe custody..."