Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Experiences by Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

See also:
Halagappa's nectar ring
A visit to Sri Rangapatnam, by Neeta Roy
Miracles at Sri Ranga Patna orphanage in Mysore, India

External links:
Louix Dor Dempriey (Bhagavan Sri Pranananda) at Sri Ranga Patna Orphanage
Transformation by Sai - By B. Halagappa, 'Sri Rangapatnam Orphanage', Mysore
Vibhuti forming on a photograph of Sai Baba

The reformative miracle

Sri B. Halagappa, India

My parents were devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba. In those days 'SAI' was already a name often used by us in our little family, which lived in a village called 'Kikkeri' of Mandya District of Karnataka. I lost my parents when I was very young and I became an unsettled orphan in that parentless family. I left home and for the next five to six years I was wandering from place to place visiting many a holy pilgrimage centers, often in the company of some wandering monks. On such a journey during the year 1953, I had also been to Puttaparthi and visited the young Sai Baba. In those days, a metallic archboard bearing the words in Telugu 'Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Prasanthi Nilayam' was there on the main gate of Puttaparthi. The word 'Bhagavan' attracted my curiosity of the reality of Baba and I wanted to taste the powers of Baba and stayed there for a few days. I was not much impressed first in any way about Baba, as I was in the company of other sadhus who were familiar with some tantric trics. My companionship with sadhus, instead of giving me Spiritual knowledge, resulted in my addiction to narcotics and allied activities.

I was now about twenty years old and I was growing up with a distinct personality. I had the opportunity of visiting Rishikesh where I met a divine master named Swami Shradhananda. I was blessed to be his servant for some time. The Swami told me about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and His divine qualities.

Once Bhagavan Baba had visited the Ashram of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and many sadhus in that area had the darshan of Bhagavan Baba. Swami Shradhananda did not go to Him. The Swami told me that Bhagavan Baba can come to us whenever and wherever we yearn for His darshan—Swami Shradhananda was known for his higher attainment of yogic practices. One day Swami Shradhananda narrated to me about his experience of Bhagavan Baba's visit to His dwellings, when at the same time Baba was in Rishikesh in Swami Sivananda's Ashram, Swami Shradhananda had particulary told me that my peaceful future would be by the blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

After the samadhi of Swami Shradhananda in Mount Abu, I returned to South India. My mind was wooing to be near Bhagavan Baba's divine feet. I went to Puttaparthi. Baba did not speak to me. He was so different and unlike many other Swami's who generally impress those who came to them. I was very much disappointed and became upset in life without a clear direction. My experience with sadhus who often choose to live by begging made me feel ashamed. My daily needs forced me to steal valuable things. I also used to be a clever liar to collect money. I was lead to the pleasures of alcoholic sensations.

Once again I was in Bangalore when I learnt that Baba was in Whitefield. I rushed for His darshan. Just then Baba was leaving in His car to a devotees house for lunch and I followed Him by foot to that place. When Baba saw me standing outside the compound wall, He asked me to have food in that house. When He returned to Whitefield I followed Him immediately. This time Baba spoke to me length and advise me to join some place to work without wandering aimlessly.

I followed Baba's words and I was given a job: physical labor at Pandavapura Sugar Factory. I yearned to be at Puttaparthi. I was a regular participant at Sri Ramachandra Shetty's Bhajan Center in Mysore. Baba had blessed his house by His divine presence many times. The song 'O! Bhagavan. O! Bhagavan' was my song of the soul and I cried with it to Baba about my misfortune. During that period, I was thrown out of my temporary job. I rushed by walk to Puttaparthi to have Baba's darshan. I was stopped by Baba himself at Penukonda Railway Level Crossing. He was driving down to Bangalore and asked me, "Where are you up to?" I told Him that I was going to have His darshan at Puttaparthi. I told Him my problem and He told me, "You are already having your darshan. And now return to your work! You will be given a permanent job." He also gave me 20 rupees for my needs. My joy knew no bounds! I spent every paise of it then and there and I returned to Pandavapura. Baba's words were true. I was again given a job in the same factory where I was working earlier.

Though I got a job it was really difficult to manage my earnings of only 2 rupees per day; my bad habits were many and my daily needs had to be met. Once during a Shivaratri Festival I was at Puttaparthi and had stolen some clothing belonging to devotees and on my return to my place I exhibited them as a gift given to me by Baba!

The journey to Puttaparthi was not so expensive. A trip up and down to Puttaparthi was just costing 6 rupees. However, I was not fortunate enough to have even that amount at times. Once I was at Puttaparthi and I extended my stay beyond my limits of expenses. I had stolen a suitcase belonging to a devotee and secured it on the top of the hillock of 'Vata Vriksha' beside the big boulders, overlooking Prasanthi Nilayam. Baba had consoled the victim and assured him he would he would get his suitcase back soon. I was standing along with other devotees to get Baba's darshan, when Sri Kasturi came to me and directed me to see Baba in His room. There, Baba admonished me for my bad behavior and asked me to return the suitcase immediately. I pleaded with Him for pardon and told Him that I would not be doing such a nasty thing if only Baba had blessed me to have a decent life. I also pleaded my fear of police and publicity and sought His protection. Baba blessed me with His protection and told me that, "No big police officer, whatever be his rank, can ever touch you as long as you have me for protection!" Then He sent Mr. Kasturi to collect the suitcase instead of me. He never disclosed this incident to anyone else. He gave me vibhutti but no money this time. Sri Kasturi after hearing everything about me and my devotion to Baba told me that in a way I was really blessed by Baba and paid for my return ticket to Pandavapura.

The job in hand was satisfactory. The wages were very meager. My bad habits were many. I also desired to have Baba's darshan often. I got into marriage on the advice of my well-wishers. But my grief was doubled in every respect especially as my journey to Parthi now became impossible.

I was set to satisfy myself with a photograph of Bhagawan kept for my daily worship at home and I became an example of wonder to the people around me for my degraded situation.

On 1963 Gurupoornima day, I was in Puttaparthi. There we learnt that Baba was suffering from a stroke of paralysis. Sri Kasturi explained to us that Baba suffering were a result of His 'taking over' the pains of a devotee. It was already a week. On the day before Gurupoornima, Baba was brought out for public darshan, being carried on a chair held by a number of devotees. Baba was seen by us in a completely helpless situation as His left hand and leg were in a stiffened condition. All of us were thinking "Is this the situation for God even?"

Just then Baba was asking for a cup of water to drink. It was given to Him immediately. Baba had a few sips of water and seeing Him I felt bad and I broke into tears. I was crying as if Baba had left His body, ending His avataric mission! But Baba was soon standing in front of us, speaking to us with His sweet melodious voice.

This incident made a forceful impact on me. During the speech He explained to us (among many things), His leela of taking over diseases belonging to His devotees as part of His mission. He also told us about His three divine Avatars; one was at Shirdi, the second which is now at Puttaparthi, and te third which would descend as Prema Sai at some place in Mandya District of Karnataka on the banks of Cauvery river.

At the same time I was telling myself if Bhagavan Baba was God really and on that next day if only Baba blessed me permitting me a padnamaskar at His feet untouched by anybody else, I would become a completely changed person devoting the rest of my life to service and would lead a life comfortably remembering His name and settling down on the banks of the river Cauvery at Sri Rangapatnam.

On the next day, Baba blessed this poor soul and his desire, and I am whatever I am today. His shower of blessing washed every cell in this body and gave me everything I dreamt of as an aimless wandering man. Besides blessing me with the shower of Vibhutti and flow of Amrith, He changed me totally to be an unseful instrument in rendering some small help in giving shelter for many orphaned children who live with our own children in our house. My house is now full of such sweet names of our Lord, when I call my children Sai Prasad, Sai Prema, Sai Kumar, Sai Ganesh, Sai Shankar, Chitravathi, Prasanthi, etc., and I feel blessed to be constantly remembering Bhagavan Baba and His greatest Leela of reforming me and securing me strongly in His Divine embrace.

Sri B. Halagappa
Karnataka, India. Agriculturist, runs an orphanage at Srirangapatnam in the name of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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