The Gift of Life
dare you start on this journey, without taking a
ticket from Me? Come down; do the task allotted
to you. I order you to come to the Prayer Hall
this noon and carry on with Arathi, as
That was the
command, the divine command of the Lord to Sri
Seshagiri Rao, whose body and mind were 'ready
steady set' for the last journey.
Baba did sound
harsh. Yes, He appeared so unkind not only to
the people around but also to the subject in
question, Sri Seshagiri Rao, who was more than
willing to shed his mortal coil after a fall and
subsequent ill health, and had even started
declaring aloud the eternal truths: "This body
composed of the five elements is disintegrating
into its components; I am being liberated!"
But Swami had
different plans for this sage-like servitor who
for 14 long years had tended the shrine at the
old Mandir and later at the Prashanti
Nilayam Sanctum Sanctorum with great dedication
and love. Sri Seshagiri Rao just obeyed Swami's
order and in the evening he was seen attending
the shrine - the signs of illness were gone.
later, this pious person fell ill again. His
condition became worse and you could see that he
was indeed suffering. His brother rushed in
panic from Bangalore and requested Swami that
Sri Seshagiri Rao be allowed to be taken to the
Victoria hospital in Bangalore.
But, Swami had
this to tell him, "Do not worry at his
present plight. I am allowing him to work out
the suffering he has to undergo. After this, he
has the chance to die peacefully and quite
happily. Otherwise, I could have despatched him
months ago, when he had a fall." And
that is exactly what happened.
Rao recovered quite mysteriously in a month. He
was hale and hearty and spent six weeks in bliss
doing his chores in the shrine and spreading
happiness around. And then suddenly one day, his
health deteriorated and he took to bed. One
evening Swami went to his bedside. Along with
Swami was Prof. Kasturi, a great devotee and the
first editor of Sanathana Sarathi. For
what happened that momentous evening, let's hear
from Sri Kasturi himself:
"Swami asked me
to bring a cup of hot milk. Spoon by spoon, He
fed him the entire cup, calling on him by name
and telling him that it was his Baba that was
feeding him! Then, He rose and moved; turning
back while at the door, He looked at him and
said, 'Now you can go!' And,
Seshagiri Rao obeyed within an hour! Baba knew
when he had to come down and when he had to
Baba with the Cowans
This is not one
isolated incident in the life of Baba. We all know of
what happened to Walter Cowan, the oft-quoted story of
resurrection recorded beautifully by Dr. Hislop in
My Baba and I. We will not go into details here
about that incident because there are many more. For
every incident we know, there are hundreds and thousands
that we do not know. Sai's power has been working
silently, selflessly and relentlessly all-round the
clock, all-round the globe transforming people, uniting
families, enlivening spirits and resurrecting lives, for
He is the master of Time and destiny.
In the first week of
August, 1953 in Puttaparthi, there happened another
incident which, as Howard Murphet describes in Sai
Baba: Man of Miracles, was as dramatic in its way
as the Christ's raising of "Lazarus" from the dead. The
"Lazarus" here was Mr. V Radhakrishna, about sixty years
of age, a factory owner and well-known citizen of
Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh.
He was in Puttaparthi
with his wife, daughter, Vijaya and son-in-law, Sri
Hemchand. The Dasara celebrations were on but
he was there in Puttaparthi with a different mission -
to ask Baba to cure him of his frightful gastric ulcers.
Two days had passed by
in Puttaparthi and when Mr. Radhakrishna found Swami
taking a stroll in the hall one day, he ran to Him and
fell at His feet imploring Him thus: "Swami, I prefer to
die. I cannot bear this pain anymore. Let me be merged
in Your Feet." Swami lifted him up by his shoulders and
in a comforting tone said, "It is alright. The
pain will soon subside," and sent him back.
Sometime later, Mr.
Radhakrishna was attacked by fits, fell down and bit his
tongue. Swami came immediately and placed Vibhuti
on his forehead. His stomach was bloated. Swami sat by
his side for sometime, patting his stomach. Before He
left, He reassured everybody saying, "Do not
worry. Everything will be alright."
The next day was truly
a nightmare. The patient could not pass urine and his
stomach became even more bloated. He was unconscious. A
male nurse brought by Mr. K S Hemchand, the son-in-law,
pronounced him near death after failing to find any
pulse and making other examinations. There was no way of
saving him, the nurse opined. And by evening the patient
became very cold. The three anxious relatives heard what
they thought was the "death rattle" in his throat and
watched him turning blue and stiff. His stomach looked
full enough to burst at the slightest touch.
Vijaya, and Mrs.
Radhakrishna, went to see Swami. They told Him that
Radhakrishna seemed to be dead. (Those days, devotees
were very few and they had much greater access to
Swami). But Swami just laughed and walked away into His
bedroom. Crestfallen, the mother and daughter returned
to the 'dead' man's bedside and waited and prayed. As if
listening to their prayers, after a while, Swami came
and looked at the body but did not say or do anything.
The whole of the second night passed with the three
fervently praying and anxiously waiting for any signs of
life. But that was not to be. There were no signs. Yet,
nothing could disturb their rock-like faith in Baba.
When the Venkatagiri
Raja, a longtime devotee of Baba, offered to take Mr.
Radhakrishna in his car to a bigger hospital in a town
some distance away, Mrs. Radhakrishna firmly said, "We
cannot do anything unless Swami commands us. Everything
depends on Swami's will." She completely believed that
somehow or other Baba would save Radhakrishna as He had
promised that everything would be alright.
The whole body turned
black. His nails turned blue. The night passed. No one
slept. At about four in the morning of the third day,
all the people around went away wiping their tears and
all the three relatives began to weep silently. The body
was more than ever like a corpse - dark, cold, quite
stiff and beginning to smell. Other people who came to
see and sympathise told Mrs. Radhakrishna that she
should have the corpse removed from the ashram. But she
replied, "Not unless Swami orders it". Some even went to
Baba and suggested that, as the man was dead and the
body smelling of decomposition, it should either be sent
back to Kuppam or cremated at Puttaparti. Swami simply
replied, "We'll see."
Radhakrishna with his Saviour
When Mrs. Radhakrishna
went to see Swami again - to tell Baba what people were
saying to her, and to ask Him what she must do, He
answered: "Do not listen to them, and have no
fear; I am here." And further, He reassured her
saying that He would soon come to see her husband.
returned and waited along with her daughter and
son-in-law by the body. 10 minutes, half an hour, an
hour passed, but there was no sign of Swami. There
seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel and just
when they were about to give up totally, the door opened
and there stood Baba in His red robe, copious hair, and
shining smile. It was then about half past two in the
afternoon of the third day.
As soon as she saw
Baba, Mrs. Radhakrishna broke down completely. Vijaya
was also crying. They were like Martha and Mary, the
sisters of Lazarus, weeping before their Lord who, they
thought, had come too late. And Swami, as if there was
nothing serious to it, said jokingly, "Is Radhakrishna
having labour pains?" Everyone was silent.
"Let's see what the
matter is," He said and walked into the room.
At what point is a
person dead? Can anyone say? There are instances where
suddenly a 'corpse' will move; in fact, when Jesus
received word that Lazarus was dead, He said to His
disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I
may awake him out of sleep."
Anyway, to continue
with the story, Baba gently asked the tearful women and
sorrowful Mr. Hemchand to leave the room. There were
only Swami and the dead man in the room and what
happened inside only He knows. A few minutes passed, and
the door opened and Swami beckoned all the three in. As
they nervously walked in, they could scarcely believe
their eyes! Was it true? Or, was it an illusion?
There on the bed
Radhakrishna was looking up at them and smiling!
Amazingly the stiffness of death had vanished and his
natural colour was returning! All the three clasped
Swami;s Feet and washed them with their tears. Baba went
over, stroked the patient's head and said to him,
"Talk to them; they are worried."
worried?" asked Radhakrishna, puzzled, "what happened to
With a loud laugh,
Swami replied, "Delivery."
Everyone laughed. It
was a strange scene, laughter in the midst of tears.
Mr. Radhakrishna looked
at Swami who was sitting near his head and said, "I'm
all right. You are here."
then turned to Mrs. Radhakrishna and said, "I
have given your husband back to you, now get him a hot
When she brought a
tumbler of Horlicks, Swami Himself fed it to
Radhakrishna slowly spoon by spoon. For another half an
hour He remained there, gently touching Radhakrishna and
strengthening the man He had 'raised'.
Swami then asked
Vijaya, "How old is your father?"
"Sixty years," she
Then, Swami reminded
them how, four or five years ago, Mrs. Radhakrishna once
had told Him, "Swami, in my husband's family, all his
brothers died in their sixtieth year. Kindly save my
husband." And how Swami had promised her then that He
would save her husband. Swami then turned toward Mrs.
Radhakrishna and said, "You have forgotten that
conversation. But I have not. Today, I have given the
gift of life to your husband."
Then Swami placed His
hand on Mrs. Radhakrishna's head, blessed the whole
family and left the room.
hours, He was back. He asked Mr. Radhakrishna, "Radha
Krishnayya! Where did you go?" He replied, "That place
was very peaceful, very comfortable; very, very nice,
Swami. Why did you bring me back? It was heavenly
later, Swami confided to Sri Kasturi, "His children are
still young. He did not even write a will. He has yet to
perform the marriages of his children. That's why I saw
to it that he was brought back. The extra years of life
that I have given now I shall deduct from his next
birth." What meticulous attention to correct the
calculation of life span!
Next day, Mr.
Radhakrishna was strong enough to walk to Bhajan.
On the third day he wrote a seven-page letter to
one of his daughters who was abroad in Italy . The
family stayed a few more days at Prashanti Nilayam, then
with Baba's permission returned to their home in Kuppam.
The gastric ulcers and complications had vanished
Aeons have passed by.
Civilisations have emerged, grown and perished. Man,
Nature, Science - everything has changed. But if there
is one thing that has remained constant it is God. His
love, His compassion for humanity, His concern and His
impeccable glory. Another startling episode that amply
demonstrates this happened in Prashanti Nilayam, just
two decades back and it stands as a testimony to the
inscrutable and infinite power of Sai. This time it was
a young student, a research scholar staying in the
hostel in Prashanti Nilayam.
One person who was a
witness and totally involved in this whole incident was
Mr. Narasimha Murthy who was the warden of the hostel
then. And this is what he narrated in the Divine
Presence of Baba in Sai Kulwant Hall on the 1 st of
the month of October, 1985, the sixtieth birthday
celebrations year. In the early hours of morning, I was
woken up. One of the PhD Scholars was a chronic asthma
patient. He was unable to breathe.
We rushed him to
the Puttaparthi General Hospital . The boy's name was
Narayan Sharma. He was from Bombay , a classmate of the
current warden of the hostel, Sri Shiva Shankar Sai.
By the time we took
him to the hospital, the body had become cold and blue.
There was a lady doctor who attended on him. There was
no pulse, no breath. Dr. Chari, the Medical
Superintendent of the hospital then, rushed from his
home. He also checked him up and informed all of us
present there, 'He is no more. The boy is dead.'
It was approaching
six in the morning. You could imagine the plight of the
warden when such a thing happens. I did not even dare to
go to the Mandir and submit to Swami what had happened.
It was Dr. Chari who walked to the Mandir and submitted
to Swami the whole episode. Swami said, "Nothing
will happen to him. He is fine".
materialized Vibhuti and gave it to Dr. Chari and said,
"Apply it on his chest and put hot-water bags on his
back." Dr. Chari returned and the Vibhuti and hot water
bags were applied.
Yet, we were in a
state of fix. We did not know what to do as there was no
pulse, no breathing still. The body was still cold and
blue. For all practical purposes, he was dead. The
doctors then told me, 'Mr. Narasimha Murthy, now it is
your turn to go and report to Swami.'
Sri Narasimha Murthy narrating the incident on
Nov 1st 2004
It was 6.30 in the
morning. I walked up to the Mandir. I reported to Swami.
Swami said, "Nothing has happened to him."
In fact, He gave me a thermos flask filled with hot
coffee and said, "Go and give it to him." I was
I returned with
this flask to the hospital. When I reached the hospital,
the lady doctor looked at me with the flask and asked,
'For whom is this coffee?' I could barely say anything.
I just very reluctantly showed the patient.
Her face became
completely expressionless. But there was a sense of,
"Mr. Warden, you have lost your brain." These were her
I did not know what
to do with the coffee. The body of Narayana Sharma was
covered with a white sheet. Only his toes were seen. And
then suddenly, we saw movements! His toes were moving!
We were overjoyed.
And then the lady doctor, with great joy, went up to the
boy. The boy could not open his eyes, but the toes were
moving. And she put her finger at the nose. Slowly, the
breathing was coming back. And then, she whispered these
words into his ears, "See boy, Swami has sent coffee for
you. Please take it." One spoon of coffee was fed into
his mouth and he took it in! Then, slowly spoon by spoon
coffee was being fed into his mouth. The lady doctor
checked him again. The pulse was returning. Confident
that the boy is back, she was connecting the BP
apparatus to the boy's arm and just then Swami arrived
with late Sri V. K. Narasimhan, the editor of Sanathana
Sarathi at that time. Hearing Swami's voice, the boy
slowly tried to open his eyes. Swami came near the boy
and said, "What boy! Everybody said you are
dead. Still you are alive!" The boy looked at
Swami. His face was expressionless. Then Swami asked all
the three doctors present there, Dr. Chari and two lady
doctors, "Was he dead?"
All of them said, "Yes, Swami. He was dead."
Then He asked one of
the lady doctors, "How do you say that he was dead."
to us, there was no pulse, no breathing, no heartbeat;
the body was cold and blue. Going by medical science,
that is death."
"Then how did he
come back," He asked.
"Swami, You are
God. You can do anything." The lady doctor replied.
The drama of
Lazarus was re-enacted. Only the venue was different.
There were about 50
classmates, who had assembled outside the General
Hospital . They had come hearing that their friend has
made his exit from the world. Swami looked out of the
window. All the boys looked very sad.
Swami then looked
at me and said, "Go and tell them what has happened
here." Swami confirmed that He had brought back the boy
And then Swami
materialized a kind of brownish chocolate and gave it to
the boy. The boy immediately put it into his mouth.
After returning to the Mandir, Swami materialized three
bottles of tablets and sent them to the hospital with
detailed instructions as to how these tablets are to be
The boy was soon in
the hostel busy with his research. And he completed his
For an incarnation,
it is sheerly His powers, His inner strength which
achieves everything and nothing else. Instruments are
only superfluous. There is nothing that is impossible
for him", the
Now let's move on to
something which happened in the nineties. It is the
story of Mr. Venkateswaran, a long-time devotee of
Bhagavan who now resides in the Prashanti Nilayam
ashram. This is what he has to tell about his miraculous
"It happened on the
afternoon of 1st October, 1994 . Along with students and
some guests, I was inside Trayee Brindavan (Swami's
residence in Bangalore ). While Swami was speaking, I
felt a sudden tightness in my chest. I began to sweat
profusely and felt strangely breathless.
Three quick pinches of
Vibhuti from my pocket, followed by a chant of
'Sai Rama' three times was all I could muster before
leaning on the person in front of me. I was slipping
into darkness. I then saw an orange robe in an ocean of
This was followed by a
vision of my inert body lying on the floor. I could not
believe it! I felt so free, so utterly free.
Then a voice in the
distance echoed, 'Get up! Your Sai Rama has come, get
My hazy memory does not
recall what happened next, but I was informed later that
immediately after I had passed away, a physician sitting
nearby had examined me and found no vital signs. With
some difficulty this was conveyed to Swami who was
sitting on the jhoola [swing] in the front. Our
Merciful Lord stood up immediately, picked up His silver
tumbler, and walked to where my body was.
He poured some water on
His fingers and let it trickle into my mouth. Then, He
said the words that I have just quoted: 'Get up!
Your Sai Rama has come!'
Mr. Venkateswaran with his 'Sai Rama' before his
My inert body jerked
and my eyes opened to see Bhagavan. Looking at all those
seated around, Bhagavan firmly asked, 'What
other miracle do you want? Venkatesh was gone, and I
brought him back.' I was helped back into my
In fact, Swami gave him
another lease of life when in 1999, a full five years
after his resurrection, He blessed him to undergo a
heart surgery at the modern temple of healing, the Sri
Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. Not
only that, He made a special visit to the Hospital,
materialized Vibhuti and blessed him profusely
before his surgery.
Mr. Venkateswaran is
still doing fine and dedicates his time in the ashram
doing Swami's work.
Resurrections may not
be as common a phenomenon as Swami creating Vibhuti,
rings, chains, etc., but time and again, Swami has
brought people back to life whenever the situation
demanded it. We know how Swami 'raised' Subbamma just to
keep His promise and fulfill her last wish. For those,
who have not read this thrilling episode in
' Sathyam Shivam Sundaram', here is a brief
"Subbamma was the
person most anxious about Swami's 'health' when He was a
young boy and most worried about the hundreds of
pilgrims who gathered at Puttaparthi. Baba even now says
that the grinding stone in her house was always busy,
preparing chutney (an Indian dish) out of the heaps of
coconuts that the pilgrims offered. She was grinding
almost eight hours of the day! She had immense love and
devotion to the Lord and Baba had said that He would
satisfy her one desire... to have the Darshan
of Baba in her last moments. And this is how he
It was in the fifties.
Subbamma fell ill and was taken to Bukkapatnam. But in
spite of her illness, she came over one day in a bullock
cart to see the Prashanti Nilayam (the new Mandir),
which was then under construction. She was soon
bedridden and could not move; her condition worsened and
Baba was away in Bangalore !
Subbamma, in her delirium,
talked about Baba and the vision of Shirdi Sai Baba
which she had been privileged to see, of the manifold
Leelas of the Krishna she had witnessed, and,
when she came to, her talk was about the same incidents
and the same Person. She was in the midst of relatives
who did not have much sympathy with these sentiments,
for they felt that her love for the strange little
miraculous Boy had taken her away from attachment to her
kith and kin. So, they told her that her Baba was a
hundred miles away, and it would be better for her to
concentrate her failing attention on men and matters
nearer and closer. But, her Faith did not falter.
Meanwhile, Baba left
Bangalore for Tirupathi, where He spent some time with a
few devotees. Of course, Baba knew that Subbamma's soul
was struggling to free itself from the mortal coil, and
that she was rolling in her deathbed at Bukkapatnam. The
people around her announced that she had breathed her
But, some peculiar glow
on her face, made them nervous to take the body to the
cremation ground. A few wiser persons shook their heads
when it was suggested that she had died. They advised
patience, and admonished the relatives; 'The bird has
not flown yet,' they said.
How could that bird
fly, even though the door of the cage was lying open?
She must have the Darshan and she must wait
until Baba comes. And, Baba too was hurrying towards her
bedside. He left Tirupathi by car, and arriving at
Puttaparthi, proceeded to Bukkapatnam, three full days
after the first announcement of Subbamma's end!
Her eyes had lost the
glint, she was placed on the floor and people were
evincing an uneasy impatience. Baba sat by her and in a
low voice called out, "Subbamma," "Subbamma," just twice
and no more! Then, to the wonderment of everyone
crowding around, Subbamma opened her eyes!
She extended her hand
towards Baba and grasped His palm firmly and began to
stroke it lovingly; Baba put His fingers to her lips;
her mouth opened a little, as if she knew that Baba was
giving her something to slake the thirst of the soul.
From the fingers of
Baba there poured into her mouth the Immortal Ganga and
Subbamma joined the ranks of the Released!
What a deliverance! Can
anything better that! Swami knows who deserves what and
Some people might ask
why does Swami resurrect this individual and not
another? Why does He save some people from serious
illnesses or from near-death situations and not others?
Why does He use His powers only for some and not others?
To this, Howard
Murphet gives a beautiful explanation in Sai
Baba: Man of Miracles:
the same way one might ask why Christ did not
cure all the sickness around him in his day. And
why was Lazarus the only one He called back from
the tomb? Did Jesus - and did Sai Baba later -
make a special effort against the power of death
for a greatly loved family of close devotees?
Maybe, but I think there is more to it than
When Jesus was
informed that Lazarus was sick he made the
enigmatic remark: 'This sickness is not unto
death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of
God might be glorified thereby'. So what would
normally, under ordinary conditions, be a death-dealing disease
may be an occasion for the glorification of God
through the works of a God-man.
there is the profound and complex question of
karma. To what extent is the specific
ailment or the approach of death karmic,
and how far should the Godman interfere
with the patient's karma?"
So, that probably gives the answer. The bottom
line is this: God is Omnipotent and Omniscient.
He can do anything. He is not in the business of
displaying His powers at every opportunity.
There must be a very sound reason for Him to do
anything. He knows our past, present and future.
He knows what is good for us. And He makes no
anything beyond the present and the past of the
current life, we sometimes complain. But the
solution does not lie in complaining but
surrendering everything at His lotus Feet.
Because He is ever ready to help. He stands at
the doorstep of our heart waiting for a small
opening just like the sunlight which eagerly
enters a dark room and brightens it by way of
even a small slit at the door.
So let us open
our hearts to Him. Let us Trust Him.
For, with Him by our side, nothing is
E-Magazine, June 2005