VISION AT RISHIKESH
“I worship Bhagavan Baba as Sri Bhagavan Narayana Himself and none
other. I have written a book based on the Bhagavatha and dedicated
it to Bhagavan Baba. I hope to place it at the feet of Sai
Narayana shortly,“ said seventy year old Shri Subbaramayya Naidu
of Venkatagiri, his face lighting up with devotion as he spoke.
Shri Subbaramayya is a blessed individual,
most apt to talk with fervour, for he is a witness of the most fantastic
divine Vision given by Bhagavan that has been recorded in Sai history. This
was a vision of Jyoti Ananta Padmanabha given to Purushottamananda at
Vasishta guha (cave) near Rishikesh, during Bhagavan Baba‘s first visit to
Rishikesh at the Invitation of Sri Sivananda.
“Yes, I know, and I have experienced the proof of his divinity. He is Lord
Narayana in human form, come for the upliftment of humanity,“ he said.
Sri Subbaramayya continued, “I first saw Sri Sai Baba in 1950 when
Baba visited Venkatagiri at the invitation of the royal family of
Venkatagiri. Then the Yuvaraja invited me to darshan. At that
time, I was President of the local branch of the Divine Life
Society, and I had been initiated by Swami Sivananda in 1944“. He
bad always been a spiritual person. Earlier his father had sent
hirn to Sri Malayalaswami. He had been with Ramana Maharshi for
two years and also had darshan of Sri Aurobindo and Swami Ramdas
in his early years. He had also read a lot on Theosophy. But when
he saw Swami Sivananda, he knew he bad found bis guru and had been
With such a spiritual background, Subbaramayya was, indeed,
overwhelmed when he saw Bhagavan Baba. The devotion of the
Venkatagiri Royal Family for Bhagavan Baba thoroughly impressed
upon his mmd. He was blessed with vibhuti created by Sri Baba and
he also saw several other materialisations. Sri Baba used to visit
Venkatagiri every year, and there were sankirtans in the palace to
which Subbaramayya was always invited.
He remembered how, during one of bis early talks, Baba bad
referred to his previous form at Shirdi. He particularly mentioned
a rickshaw used by him when he was Shirdi Baba.It was then in
Those talks used to be cosy and intimate, within the palace
precincts, with just the royal family and select guests. After
three years of such private visits the royal family took the
decision to invite the public to them so that they, too, might
have the benefit of Sri Baba‘s darshan and hear bis discourse. So
in 1953—54, for the first time, a public sankirtan was arranged in
Boddu Saika the inner quadrangle of the palace and Sri
Subbaramayya took an important role in arranging the meeting at
the request of the yuvaraja, bis friend. Baba was happy with the
arrangements, as it would benefit the people of Venkatagiri. It
became a precedent for Subbaramayya to request Bhagavan Baba to
preside over the All-India Conference of the Divine Life Society
hosted in Venkatagiri. Wben be wrote about tbis proposal to Swami
Sivananda, it was said that he agreed. immediately. However, a few
others in tbe ashram demurred and Subbaramayya received a letter
from Swami Sivananda. “There are two opinions about inviting Baba.
Will you be responsible if anything happens?“
He promptly replied, “Swamiji, I accept full responsibility“ and
they acquiesced. He went to Puttaparthi and Baba graciously
accepted to preside over the conference. Subbaramayya made several
more visits to finalise the arrangements.
Subbaramayya recalls how Swami Sadananda‘s arrival was delayed
till the eleventh hour and how Baba allayed bis anxiety by
assuring him, “Subbaramayya don‘t worry, he will come on time. You
carry on with your work“.
Swami Sadananda arrived on time and the inauguration took place as
scheduled. Swanii Sadananda remained aloof on the first day and
appeared to have his own reservations about Baba. But, on the
second day, everyone could see that there was a definite change.
He never left Baba‘s side and, later, also went to Puttaparthi
with Baba. After that conference, there was a telegram from Swami
Sivananda inviting Baba to kindly visit their ashram and bless
As a result, when Bhagavan Baba planned his tour of North India, a
visit to Rishikesh was included in the itinerary. Subbaramayya
Naidu and the Yuvaraja of Venkatagiri were arnong those who
accornpanied Sri Baba to Delhi. Subbaramayya and Mr. Tirumalachari
(who wrote the Telugu version of Sathyam, sivam, sundaram) went
ahead of Swami‘s party to Rishikesh. A cottage “Shiva Kutir“ had
been got ready for Baba and everyone in the ashram was excited
about Swarni‘s stay. Swami Chidananda was then the General
Secretary of the ashrarn. Swami was given a spontaneous and
enthusiastic welcome. Beautiful sankirtan was arranged at the
Diamond Jubilee Hall, after which Swami Sivananda asked
Subbaramayya. to speak on “the Life and Mission of Bhagavan Sri
Sathya Sai Baba“. lt was a great honour for Subbaramayya and he
spoke about what he had heard, what he had seen and what he had
experienced about Sri Baba.
After two days, Subbararnayya (an advocate by vocation) approached
Sri Baba and said that he had to get back to appear in a case at
Nellore. Baba cut him short saying “Your case is adjourned“. After
talking to Sri Baba, Subbaramayya returned to his room and found a
telegram waiting for hirn. The telegram stated that the case had
been adjourned, so he need not return in a hurry. Re wondered
again and again how Baba could have predicted the adjournment.
Sri Baba stayed in the ashram for seven days, rnuch to the joy of
Swarni Sivananda. Several tirnes Subbararnayya was called upon to
translate Sri Baba‘s Telugu talks to others—a task that filled him
with immense joy. Baba took the party on several excursions around
the area. On the fifth day (after their arrival), he said, “Let us
go to Vasishta Guha“ (Vasishta cave). The place was nearly fifteen
rniles away from Rishikesh. The route was through difficult
terrain, with a steep half.mile climb down. At the end of this
tricky trek, they found to their surprise, a sanyasi standing with
a garland for Baba! How did the sanyasi know that Sri Baba was
The sanyasi was none other tban Swami Purushottamananda who bad
been living in the guha (cave) for several years. Seeing Baba, he
went off to a trance, losing all body consciousness. In Baba‘s
party there were two musicians, Raman and Lakshman, who sang songs
of saint-cornposer Tyagaraja in that sacred place. Slowly, Swami
Purushottamananda came back frorn bis trance. There were nearly
forty of them in that party that evening, Sri Baba sat on the
floor of the cave.
Purushottarnananda‘s pupil, Swarni Kalikananda,
said to Sri Baba, “I have chronic stomach pain; please bless me“. Baba
materialised a white piece of rock or stone that looked like ice and gave it
to him saying, “Take it twice everyday“.
Baba gave them all a wonderful musical treat that evening by
singing a composition of Tyagaraja; “Sri Raghuvara Sugunalaya“.
“It was like the music of the Gandharvas and Kinnaras*. “What
bliss. What ecstasy! All of us forgot everything in the divine
ananda that enveloped us, thanks to the melodious music of Sri
Baba. It was an experience out of this world,“ said Subbararnayya.
“I never had irnagined that music could lift one to such sublime
heights. Sri Baba had indeed given us a totally unexpected and
rare treat of superb excellence,“ recollected Subbaramayya, who
could not have imagined in his wildest dreams, the treasure in
store for him at that holy cave.
Soon after the song, everyone trooped out of the cave.
Subbaramayya, too started to step out, but Baba stopped hirn. And
so he had the unique chance of witnessing what transpired between
Sri Baba and Purushottamananda. Sri Baba rnaterialised a
“sphatika“ (crystal) mala and gave it to him. Then, he rested with
his head on the sanyasi‘s lap! As Subbaramayya watched, the head
became big, bigger and continued to invrease in size, at the same
time, becoming lustrous like the Sun. The entire cave was bathed
in a resplendent light, a rare luminosity, a tejas (radiance) that
filled the atmosphere. Sri Baba‘s entire body was like a mass of
light, with a huge face shining with great brilliance.
Subbaramayya stood transfixed, aware that this was no ordinary
sight, but a divine vision. Oh! What grace! He was lost in the
brilliance and the aura, which slowly disappeared as Sri Baba‘s
own face began to reappear. Sri Baba soon came out of the cave and
joined the others. But be did not say anything to anybody. He was
quiet. Later, Subbaramayya slowly described what he had seen to
the Venkatagiri Yuvaraja, who was with them, but who had missed
the Sai transfiguration. “You are very lucky,“ said the Yuvaraja.
The next day Sri Baba asked Subbaramayya, “Now do you know why
Iaskedyou to stay?“
Subbaramayya was unable to speak, for bis heart was so füll. Later,
when they returned to Delhi, Sri Baba explained to bis party the
vision in the cave.
“I gave darshan of Jyotirmaya Ananta Padmanabha» he said and added,
“Subbaramayya saw it“. He further explained that “This was done
from the naabhi* trough the Brahma randhraj** which was indeed a
great revelation of how he bad operated bis shakti to grant a
divine boon to
This is the greatest spiritual experience Sri Baba granted me,
through bis infinite grace,“ said Subbaramayya who became
convinced more than ever, that Sri Baba was none other than Lord
Narayana in human form come to uplift humanity. He continued to
visit Puttaparthi and bask in the glory of Sri Baba‘s love and
hospitality which was showered on hirn with such abundance. Sri
Baba also graced his house with bis visit and blessed bis family.
Once he materialised a rudraksha bead for Subbaramayya and told
him to keep it between bis brows and meditate. He commended bis
efforts in sadhana and gave blessings for spiritual progress. “I
always have Baba in my heart. Now for a few years, my deep
involvement with my work for the Divine Life Society has kept me
away from working for the Sri Sathya Sai Samithi. I had to make a
choice, since I could not work simultaneously for both
organisations. I made my choice, since Sivananda was my first
guru, the guru who initiated me and my duty was to him first.
Hence, I decided to dedicate my life to the work and activities of
the Divine Life Society.
“However, I cherish Sri Baba‘s physical
presence and the chances I had to spend so much time in hs pbysical presence
and savour the nectarine sweetness of bis company. We are indeed blessed to
be Baba‘s contemporaries“ stated the blessed Subbaramayya categorically.
* naabhi—deep down the stomach.
** Brahma randhra—top of the head (see also Appendix on Kundalini Yoga).