The mystics of all religions say that God is the omnipresent Spirit which indwells our being also as our real Self. Sadhana or spiritual effort is the means of realising it which enables us to realize that we are the Immortal Spirit. Beginning as one of our daily activities, as part of life, sadhana has to grow up to be our life itself. Rather, our wakeful life will have to become part of our sadhana. It has to pervade our deep sleep too, as it did in the case of Sai Baba. Our daily life militates against this endeavour by evoking in us emotional responses like hate, jealousy, greed, fear etc. There are only two ways of conquering this counter-force. One is by running away from normal, worldly life into seclusion. Many seem to prefer this but very few of them succeed in the attainment of their goal. For their inner psychic content still carries with it the worldly impressions of their early life. Craving for fame, comfort, power etc., still lure them away from their original object. Such of them, after making a little headway along the path, are powerfully drawn into the world and they got bogged down by these inner compulsions.
The other way is to raise a smaller world of our own, consisting of a few who are all dedicated to such endeavour as we. We gather a few like-minded people in the evening, at least once a week, study the life of Sai Baba and other Masters together, sing bhajans and meditate. As a group, we try to live up to what-ever principles of divine life and outlook we derive from our groop-study. Such weekly gathering is called satsang.
Gradually, the group attracts many more souls and a powerfull center of spiritual activity takes shape. The venue of satsang gets charged with spiritual vibrations which help everyone in his sadhana. Besides, even others in the locality unconnected with satsang would start getting miraculous experiences and would be drawn into the group. Such groups, both by practice, precept and service, will be disseminators of the noble way among mankind to enable it grow in love and brotherhood, transcending barriers of race, creed and nationality.
This second form of sadhana coupled with individual study, meditation and prayer will form a powerful means of not only unfolding our own divine potential, but also of social uplift through the much needed spiritual education.
Mr. Gopalareddy, a native of the neighbouring village of Kothapalem, records his experience:
“Our baby ‘Malli’ on the 14th day after her birth was being brought home from the maternity hospital at Nellore. I was handing over the baby from the railway platform (at Nellore station) to my wife who had boarded the train. Unfortunately the baby slipped from the rubber sheat in my hands and fell down between the train and the platform. It did not cry. We could not make out where it was badly hit. The baby was disabled. Her hands and legs became useless. The doctors tried their best but could only save its life. The disabled limbs remained so. The baby did not grow up well but remained thin. She could not walk, but dragged her legs along as she moved on her buttocks. Even at the age of four the girl could not speak. We were heart-broken at her condition, and we were helpless. We left everything to God’s will.
After quite some time we happened to hear of Sri Bharadwaja through my nephew Vijayakumar (who was a student of the college in which Sri Bharadwaja was working). We wanted to see him but the time had not come for us yet. Atlast, by Baba’s grace, he visited our house. We put the sad plight of our four-year-old daughter before him. He glanced at her benignly, passed his hands over her limbs and said that by Baba’s grace the child would recover. He then gave the girl the sweet that he had offered to Baba’s picture. To our surprise the girl started walking from the next day; now she can run, and climb the staircase. She has gained her speech. Now she sings Baba’s bhajan. By Baba’s grace, both of us – my wife and I have improved much, materially and spiritually”.
Mr. M.K. Anandavenkateswarlu, a native of Dhone (Kurnool Dt.) records his experience:
“My third brother Seshumani lost the use of his left leg, left hand, and the left eye on account of polio which he had in his third month. Even at the age of ten years, he could not stand. Owing to some financial and domestic problems, we could not provide him with any medical aid.
Last year when I was doing my M.Sc., in Statistics in S.V. University at Tirupati, I heard of Sri Bharadwaja through my friends and I met him when he visited Tirupati. In his presence I experienced deep peace. I had a feeling that with his blessings my brother might recover.
After the M.Sc., examinations I went to Vidyanagar to see him. That evening he read out from his book on Sri Sai Baba the chapter “Sai Baba is in All Saints”. Just at that time Sri Samartha Narayana Maharaj, the saint of Harihar, visited the house of Sri Bharadwaja. He listened to my account of my brother’s condition, gave me holy ash and told me to apply it to my brother’s body while reciting the forty verses addressed to Sri Hanuman (‘Hanuman Chalisa’). As the holy ash is too little in quantity he told me to take some more from Sri Bharadwaja. When I returned to Tirupati I had sent the ash home through my second brother. As the members of my family at home did not have the text of Sri Hanuman Chalisa to be recited, they did not apply the ash to my brother’s body. But strangely enough, from the fourth day of the ash reaching our home my brother, who till then was unable even to stand, started moving about with the help of a stick. All my people were surprised at this. But before I came to know of this miracle, one day, early in the morning, I had a dream. Sri Baba was there surrounded by devotees of whom I was one. Pointing at me he told the others, “It is I that had saved this lame one”. I at once woke up, wondering what this could mean and looked at Baba’s picture. At once it occurred to me that Baba was just cryptically referring to my brother. After a few days I went home and to my surprise and that of others my brother was walking about with the help of a stick even though the ash was not applied to his body. Many people of that town were surprised at it. All of us thought it was all the grace of Baba. My unquestionable conviction in the existence of God came from my brother’s recovery without any medical assistance”.
Mr. M. Ramachandra Rao, an employee of the Posts and Telegraphs department, writes:
“One evening I visited Sri Bharadwaja at Vidyanagar. The next morning I had to attend an interview at Nellore for the post of a clerk in P. & T. Dept. I had to catch the 5 O’ clock bus next morning. But we went on talking late in the night; besides, I am a late riser. So I requested Sri Bharadwaja to wake me up at 4-30 a.m. He agreed and set the alarm of the timepiece for that hour. I slept deeply and I had a vivid dream in which a stranger appeared at the eastern window of the room and said, ‘It is morning. Wake up and start for the interview’. I at once woke up and looked about but there was none at the window. I found that the timepiece had stopped functioning at 4 a.m. That was why the alarm did not ring. It was about 5 a.m. I realized that Baba himself thus appeared in my dream to wake me up at the right time. Thereby he not only blessed me spiritually with faith in his watchfulness over my welfare but also obtained for me a livelihood”.
Mrs. P. Sulochana, an old student of the college at Vidyanagar writes:
“I come from a village, Mettu, near Vidyanagar. I came to know of Sri Bharadwaja and his devotion to Sri Sai. So once I visited him along with my mother. I wished that my mother who was devotional by temperament would have a chance to listen to him. Incidentally we told him that once we had the picture of Sri Sai Baba in our shrine and that we later gave it away to one of our friends. He asked us to get it back, if possible, and worship it again which would do us good. We did accordingly and started reading the biography of the saint with devotion.
My father was a sceptic who considered all this as mere superstition though he did not object to our devotions. He was suffering from a strange ailment. Even if he walked a furlong, his legs would swell and pain so severely that he could not but weep and roll on the ground. All medical treatment failed. One day my mother told him of the miraculous cures effected by Baba and suggested that he should seek His protection. ‘What shall I lose? If I am cured it is well. Otherwise nothing is lost,’ so saying he at once vowed to Baba that he would visit Shirdi, if he was cured. Miraculously, the pain vanished and now he is able of walk any distance normally.
Faith atlast had struck root in his heart and he had ever been praying to Baba. One night Baba appeared in his dream, showed him a native of our village and said, ‘This man is about to enter your house for committing theft. Take care.’ My father atonce woke up, secured all the doors of the house and slept peacefully. The next morning, the person shown by Baba in the dream happened to meet him. Just to verify the dream message of Baba, my father accosted him, ‘Hello! How is it that you were moving about in our street at midnight?’, pretending to have actually seen him. The man was stunned, and said, ‘Yes! How did you know? Our calf was not to be seen and I came in search of it’. The manner of his response clearly showed that it was a cover up. Baba has thus been ever watchful of our interests”.
Now, I shall mention experiences of a few others which had a clearly spiritual significance. Mr. B. Ramakrishna Reddy who was my student here reports:
“I joined the college at Vidyanagar in 1970 for my intermediate studies. My father was a devout soul and as per his instruction, I used to worship Lord Sri Rama since my boyhood. But owing to the influence of the friends and associates at the college, my faith had all but died. I was afraid of being laughed at by my fellows. So I used to pray secretly for a short while (just to keep up my word given to my father) and spent the rest of it in going to pictures, gossip and wandering. It was in that state that I came into contact with Sri Bharadwaja. The conversation at the very first meeting keenly awakened all my devotional instincts and my weakness for gossip, movies and wandering disappeared. Even without my conscious striving, right habits made their abode in my being. Therefore I used to spend some time in his presence everyday.
When I was in the ninth standard, my father used to visit a saint, Sri Avadhuta Venkaiah Swami who stays in a village called Golagamudi in this (Nellore) district. Once while speaking of me he told my father that I would persecute my collegiate studies in Nellore Dt. and I would meet my guru there. When I later visited him, the saint told me the same. His prophecy came true. I happened to join the college at Vidyanagar and I contacted Sri Bharadwaja whom I came to consider as my guru.
“The object of my master’s worship is Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi, while I worshipped Lord Sri Rama. One day I said to my Master, ‘Sir, As I have been coming to you quite often and listnening to the accounts of Baba’s grace, it has developed in me the urge to worship Sai Baba. What should I do?’ ‘You will yourself come to know what you should do’, he replied. So I continued to worship Lord Sri Rama as usual. With the blessings of my Master I took the darshan of Avadhuta of Chirala, the Avadhuta of Cuddapah and others.
After some time I expressed the same doubt to my Master who repeated the same reply. Within two or three weeks Sri Sai Baba appeared to me clearly in my dream and said, ‘You meditate on my form. It will do you good. Rama and I are not different from each other’. When I reported this experience to my Master, he said, ‘That’s what I meant when I said you’ll know it yourself’. What is remarkable about this experience is that I hardly ever dream. But ever since I had this experience Sri Baba has been appearing in my dreams now and then.
In March 1975 I was suffering from partial headaches often and I told my Master about it. ‘What can it do? It will cease of itself’, he said. One day I went to Nellore to see Holy Mother of Jillellamudi who was, then, visiting that town. That day I had a severe headache. That night, in my dream I saw Baba emerging from the small photograph in my pocket. He sat on my right side, kept his hand on my head and glanced most lovingly at me and disappered. The headache vanished by the time I woke up. Thereafter I never had it again.
On 10th April 1975, my master left for his in-law’s place (Banaganpalle, Kurnool Dt.). He had instructed me to conduct the ceremonial worship of Baba’s picture in his house. On the night of 13th I meditated for an hour and half and went to bed. I did not yet fall asleep. It was not sleep but was a peculiar state. Baba, vividly appeared standing before me saying, ‘Get up, get up!’ and added, ‘Your father owes me five coconuts since long. He vowed to offer them to Siva but has not fulfilled it, of these you offer three here on Thursday without fail!’ As he said so, I was blinking at him in amazement. Sai repeated the same words, then I bowed to his feet. He sat down facing north, and said ‘Who is your guru?’ Unhesitatingly I replied ‘Sri Bharadwaja is my guru’. Then he told me some words and insisted that I should keep them secret. He also told me to do parayana (devout study) of his life in three days. Tears flowed from my eyes. A zero-watt bulb was glowing in the room. In the dim light I found there were four black dogs around him. I was quite frightened and I switched on the light. Just before my very eyes Baba disappeared.
I could not sleep for the rest of the night. At first I did not tell any one about my experience the next morning. Later I told my friend Krishnamurthy about it. Both of us came to a decision. Without writing anything of my experience to my father I was to write a letter to him to verify the objective truth of the dream – message. I wrote to him to this effect: ‘Have you ever vowed to offer anything in the temple to Lord Siva? And if so have you fulfilled the vow? As this concerns a deity please reply immediately!’.
Before I received any reply I offered three coconuts to Baba in my Master’s house the next Thursday to obey his command. Later I received a reply from my father to this effect. ‘Many years ago I vowed to Siva that I would offer five coconuts. I have not fulfilled it so far. I am thinking of doing so soon’. I was overjoyed to note that what Baba said was true.
Later, when my Master returned from Shirdi he sat facing north, even as Sri Baba did in my vision. I was surprised at it. For, till then he always sat facing the east. So I asked him, ‘How is it you have changed your former habit and sat this wise?’ Then I narrated to him my experience. “Yes, at the time Baba appeared to you sitting in this fashion, I was saying to my wife at Shirdi. ‘In the prayer hall at Vidyanagar henceforth I will have to sit facing north,’” my Master said and I was still more surprised at this.
Mr. U. Srinivasamurthy, another student and a regular member of our bhajan, records:
“In my boyhood I accompanied my friend to the neighboring village. On the way, in a bush, I found a small stone idol. Curiously we looked at it closely. It was the figure of a man and he has a head-dress and a beard. One of his legs was resting across the other. I went and picked it up. I do not now remember where I took it and what I did it.”
“After I joined the college at Vidyanagar I had the good fortune of coming into contact with our Master, Sri E. Bharadwaja. When I first saw the picture of Sai Baba in his room, I at once remembered the stone image that I had picked up in my boyhood. Besides attending bhajan every Thursday, I used to visit him often on other days also. One day a strange and unforgettable experience was in store for me.
That day I visited my Master at about 6 p.m. Several students were sitting there. The Master was talking on several spiritual matters. At about 9 a.m. every one else had left. I decided to stay there for the night. Later on, my Master and I were resting on the terrace. After a little while, he said, ‘I forgot to keep the bucket and the water vessel down inside the room. Go and keep them!’ Accordingly I came down and, opening the door to keep the things in, I was terrified at the sight. My heart missed the beat and my legs were shivering. I was rooted as it were to the ground. There, before my very eyes was Sai Baba resting on the mat, with his head on his forearm. In the midst of the fright a doubt flashed in me whether that was a mere illusion. I atonce closed my eyes and opened again. It was not an illusion! Sai Baba himself was there! My fright doubled; somehow I managed to push the bucket and the vessel into the room and locked the door. I told my Master about that. My Master told me not to fear, as it was a common experience for devotees who often remembered Sai. This was the most memorable incident in my life.”
Another student, N. Sridhar writes :
“One day I said to Sri Bharadwaja, ‘Sir I always have an inexplicable fear. Can you suggest a way out?’ ‘Are you sincere about it?’ he asked and I affirmed. ‘The medicine a doctor prescribes may be bitter but you should not abandon it on that account’, he said. I agreed. He then suggested to me to repeat a Divine Name and asked me which deity I love most. I told him that I love Sri Rama. He then told me to repeat Ramanam. Owing to my previous prejudices against such practices I asked him, ‘Can you assure me that my sanity would not be endangered?’ He assured me and said that saints would grace me with their darshan if I practice it with devotion. Indeed, after a little practice I happened to see Sri Satchidanande Ganapati who gave me a rosary. Later I had the opportunity of accompanying my Master to Jillellamudi for the darshan of the Holy Mother. Subsequently I had the good luck of seeing Sri Ranganna Babu of Guntur. Yet I could not concentrate my mind well on Ramanam. Correspondingly the reception I had from him was not favourable.
One day I complained to my teacher, ‘When I contemplate on Sri Rama before retiring to bed at night as per your instruction, he does not occur to me as my protector or the manifestation of grace; I am not thrilled. As he is God, he seems to me the cause of creation and thus of all suffering’. My teacher then suggested that I had better choose a saint as the object of my devotion.
I used to derive immense peace by listening to the accounts of Baba. I also heard of the experience of my fellow student Ramakrishna Reddy, a devotee of Sri Rama, being told by Sri Sai Baba in his dream that He and Rama were not different. A devotee of Sri Satya Sai Baba was also, in a dream, given a picture of Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi for worship. One Thursday, my Master was reading out the experience of Sai devotees Chinna Kisna Raja Saheb and Nachne and he said to me, ‘This is for you!’ with the blessings of my Master and by the grace of Sri Sai I had the following dream one night:
I went to see Sri Ranganna Babu, the great Ramabhaktha of Guntur and he was angry with me for my impure thoughts. He angrily pointed at a road that was on the right side and said, ‘Go’. As I walked that way as per his command, I came to a neem (margosa) tree with a platform around it. There was a picture of Sri Sai Baba. When I looked at it I had a feeling that I myself had left it there long ago and I had painted the clothes of Baba in the picture in red color.
I described the dream to my Master. He told me often that Sri Sai and his picture are not different and that this fact is borne out by the experience of Hemadpanth, Balabua, and Shama. Hence I understood from this dream that Sai Baba is my chosen object of worship. Of the several things that my Master had told me was that our relationship to our guru would be fixed at the very moment of creation. Besides, I experienced immense peace after choosing Baba as my deity. Subsequently I had the darshan of saints like the Swamy of Poondi (Tamil Nadu), the senior Swami Sankaracharya of Kanchi, Sri Satya Sai Baba and Sri Samartha Narayana Maharaj.
“Recently, when Sri Narayana Maharaj visited a nearby village I went to see him along with my Master. Before we went to bed that night the Swami said, ‘You have learnt the germ of your spiritual life of a previous birth in a dream’. I understood that he was referring to my dream vision of Sai Baba’s picture”.
On 12th of December, 1974 Baba had graced some devotees of our group with the following wonderful dream experiences :
To a devotee of the neighboring village of Kothapalem he appeared in the form of a picture of his. The same night another devotee of the village of Ucchurivaripalem had the same dream. The same evening Mr.Seshadri a devotee, had given me two big pictures of Baba. The next evening the two devotees who had the dream visions came to Vidyanagar to narrate their experiences to me. The one from Kothapalem, however, wished in his heart that even without his telling me of his vision I should give him a picture of Baba and that was to be the sure sign from Baba that his experience was not a casual dream. By the time these devotees arrived, nearly half-a-dozen other devotees had assembled in my room. Strangely enough I was impelled to present these two devotees, among all with the two pictures of Baba! Later they recounted their dream experiences with exaltation. What was remarkable was that the pictures were exact replicas of those they had seen in their dreams!
The same night on which these two devotees had these dream visions, Kumari Koteswari, the daughter of a temple priest in the nearby village of Ucchurivaripalem had a still more remarkable, experience. Sometime earlier the priest, her father, came and told me that his daughter was suffering from enlarged tonsils since her childhood that his friends told him that he must get them removed surgically at the earliest possible time that owing to this trouble, even though the girl had attained marriageable age she remained stunted in growth. He also said that his circumstances did not permit him to give proper treatment for her and he was very much worried on her account. He was sent to me by Mr. Seshadri, an old student and a devotee of Sai, of that village. I told the priest that instead of vainly worrying over his inability to help his daughter, he could as well narrate the leelas of Sri Baba to his family every evening. Henceforth he did so accordingly. Some time later, on the night on which the two devotees mentioned above had the dream-vision of Sai Baba’s pictures, Baba appeared to the girl in her dream. On 11-3-76 she recounted her experience thus:
On the night of Thursday, the 12th of December 1974, I got a dream. I was admitted in a hospital. Sai appeared as the doctor, the deity Poleramma as the nurse and the deity Kshetra Polaiah as the compounder. They seated me in a chair and he told me to open my mouth. I cried out in fright. Poleramma assured me that I need not fear and told me to open my mouth. So I did. Baba performed an operation at the spot of pain. When I woke up I found that I was free from all pain and that my ailment was eradicated. It is nearly sixteen months since I got this dream and the trouble never recurred.
Mamilla Subbamma, an unlettered old lady of Krishnapuram village in Nellore Dt., aged about sixty, communicated her experiences of Baba’s grace to the present author. Some time ago, a strange fakir appeared to her in a dream, and she bowed to him even though she did not know who he was. Then he said, ‘Visit me once’. Later the members of her family happened to worship Sai Baba and then she recognized that the fakir who had appeared in her dream was he.
Subbamma was ailing for quite long and the complaints were legion. The most prominent of these were pain in the eyes, body pains and spitting of blood often. All the doctors of that area who had examined expressed their inability to cure her and advised her to consult specialists elsewhere. Once she had severe cold and fever which rendered these complaints unbearable. She was helpless. One night she silently prayed to Baba to cure her and then went to bed at night. Early next morning Baba appeared in her dream. He came near her bed and squeezed the juice of some leaves into her ear. She was aiding the flow of the juice by shaking her earlobe. The juice flowed into her mouth and it tasted very pleasant. As she was wishing to taste it longer, she woke up. There was no sign of juice poured in her ear. But most wonderful, all her complaints had completely vanished by next morning, including the spitting of blood! Her health became better than before. She who was unable to take proper care of herself earlier was then able to assist her grand-children who were studying at Vidyanagar.
Later on another occasion, she was alone at home, all the other members of the family having gone elsewhere, she had to do all the work alone. One day she had body pains. The next day was the one allotted to her by co-cultivators for watering her fields with the engine. If she failed to attend to this work, she would loose the chance and cultivation would suffer. But it seemed impossible for her to attend to the work owing to her illness. So she fervently prayed to Baba to set right everything and went to bed. Baba again appeared in her dream and showed her some castor oil in his hand. She does not clearly remember whether Baba himself applied it to her or gave her the oil to do so. Soon she woke up and found that she was quite healthy. She could attend to all the work single-handed and could even water the fields!
Not only when he lived in flesh and blood but even today, Sai Baba is a sure guide to the spiritual goal and that even for those who have gone far along the path of sadhana.
M. Venugopal Reddy of Manepalli village (Hindupur Taluk, A.P.) was a budding saint. Since his nonage he had been having a mystic experience. Whenever he closed his eyes he saw a mystic light between his eyebrows. The sight of it enchanted him and he spent all his time attending to it. Seeing him quite uninterested in play and other boyhood pastimes, his parents suspected that he was troubled by spirit-possession and took him to several witch-doctors. But all their efforts proved in vain. At last, a sadhu assured them all, that the boy suffered no spirit-possession and that he was gifted with a mystical experience. He even suggested a few guidelines for the boy’s practice.
A few years after, Venugopal started seeing Goddess Lakshmi in the centre of the inner light. She spoke to him, and even gave him holy articles like sivalingas, small idols, vibhuti, kumkum, etc. He had been in this stage of development for a few years. At length he visited many a holy person for guidance. Even Sri Purnananda Swami of Srisailam told Venugopal, that he is in no need of a human guru and that the Goddess would herself take care of him.
On hearing of Venugopal I was happy but I was concerned for his proper development. For many are the seekers who, after evolving to such a state have stumbled and fell morally too. On 2-1-78 I had been at Shirdi and his case flashed in my mind. On my way back, on 8th I visited Venugopal at his village. He told me of his yearning for further guidance along his devotional way. And he sought my counsel. I suggested to him that he should fix his mind on Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi as his guru. Venugopal was immensely happy. For, just a few days earlier, he asked the Goddess to take him to the higher stages of meditation. She smiled and kept quiet. At last he asked her to suggest a way to attain higher spiritual states. She told him to look upon Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi as his guru. And I, on my way back from Shirdi, happened to give him the same piece of advice.
On 22-5-78, he wrote to me :
“Since 20th I have been longing strongly to visit Vidyanagar. The reasons, I feel is your spiritual energy. On Tuesday, 21st at 7-40 p.m. when I was meditating, I had your darshan. I then meditated intently on the Mother, she at once appeared to me and said, ‘You go there at once’ I was very happy…. On 22nd at 9-10 p.m. I opened your book Sri Sai Leelamritamu’. I again had your darshan. I then remembered that I have to visit you … On Thursday the 23rd at 5-54 p.m. I finished reading four Chapters of Sri Guru Charitra and I was about to commence the 5th chapter. A passing thought of visiting Vidyanagar flashed. Immediately I heard a few words: ‘Do not worry about money … You start at once for Vidyanagar’. These were not the words of the Mother. They were very majestic and profound. It occurred to me that they were the words of Sri Sai Baba. Soon after I experienced the state of profound samadhi for four hours.
Accordingly, Venugopal came and stayed with me for a week. During this stay, he studied the life-histories of great saints like Sri Manikya Prabhu, Sri Swami Samarth, Yogi Milarepa of Tibet, and of a few mystics I had visited. One day the Goddess ordered him to visit the mandir site here and giving him yellow rice (akshatas), asked him to sprinkle them around the site. She told him that the mandir construction will be successfully accomplished and that it would rise into prominence.
One day I had a dream in which I was shown a copper plate on which was inscribed the messages in Telugu, “Venugopal is most likely to be caught in the snare of miracles and fall spiritually”. After much thought, I felt obliged to write the same to him. On 22-5-78 he replied :
“In your letter you wrote of the likelihood of a fall through miracles. You are quite right and I am very happy for it. In the course of sadhana, miracles do manifest. In order to attain perfection, they have to be left off. A higher stage should be attained. I have a little experience of that state above miracles. But I can stay in that state only for a short while and I at once return to the stage of miracles. Again with a little effort I regain the higher state and so on. In that higher state, the body, world and mind do not exist (for me). It is empty. This state lasts only for an hour in a day. I have read in the lives of perfect sages that they exist in that higher stage always. Sri Purnanandaswami told me that it is nirvikalpa samadhi. I have been trying to be in this state. When I asked Mother about it she told me that I would attain this state after some time. Sri Sivabalayogi also told me the same…..
Whenever I ask Mother for that state she turns my mind towards Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi. When I concentrate on him, I am able to stay in this higher state longer. You too should pray to Baba that I should attain it early.
On 1-6-78 I had been to Shirdi. I stayed there for three days. Baba’s darshan and the atmosphere there is quite elevating. Ever since I had the darshan of Baba, there is a change in my spiritual state.
Hither to I was able to stay in dhyana, only for short spells. Rest of the time I have been attending to agriculture. But since I had Baba’s darshan I am able to stay in dhyana for a long time. The change is such as is brought by a magnet in a piece of iron. My mind is not in a mood to attend to agriculture at all. By Baba’s grace, the need for me to do so no longer exists. I am able to devote most of my time to Baba’s service alone.
Sd. “M. Venugopal”
On November 30, the same sadhu wrote, “On Saturday, July 22 I wished to pass the whole day in dhyana. I sat for meditation at 9 p.m., after dinner. At 10.46, the Divine Mother appeared and said, ‘At dawn you’ll be blessed with the guru’s prasadam!’ I asked ‘Who is my guru other than you?’ ‘Who else! You’ll be graced with perfect darshan and prasadam of Sai Baba!,’ She replied. I sat, my mind concentrated on the silent repetition of Baba’s name. At about 2.20 a.m., I rested for a while, when I heard the gingling sound of trinkets and I heard Mother’s voice, ‘Sit in meditation. You’ll receive the guru’s prasadam!’ As it was night, I was a little scared. Precisely at 3-30 a.m., suddenly the whole room was illumined by a mysterious light. With the joy of expectation on one side and awe on the other, I was chanting the name of Baba. Suddenly, I saw Baba standing slightly to my right side. In order to check up whether I was awake, I stirred a little. Baba smiled and said, ‘You, son of goddess Lakshmi, take this!’, as he put something resembling udi in my hand. Dumb-founded, I kept gazing on him. His eyes were a little red and awesome, but his face was beautiful with a smile. He uttered something resembling Marathi and I could not understand it. He smiled and said in Telugu, ‘Keep this safe in your shrine of daily worship. When taken a little with milk, it will cure diseases!’ I heard the noise of a group of devotees singing bhajans, probably in Hindi. Baba had two alms-bags in his left-hand. The word nishta appeared on one of them and saburi on the other. He threw the bags at me. ‘Always cultivate these two,’ he said. His right hand carried nothing. Smoke, like that of incense, was passing up in front of him. With awe and reverence I prayed, ‘Baba, I wish to abide always in the state of samadhi’. ‘It is not necessary to be so. Meditate for six hours in a day. Always chant, ‘Om Saibaba’. That is enough. Whenever you encounter any obstacle in dhyana, recollect this experience of yours’. A few minutes after, it seemed as if devotees approached him for arti and he at once vanished. ‘Baba Baba!’ I cried out and fell down. The whole room was enveloped in darkness. It was 5-45 a.m., by then. The udi that Baba gave was intact in my hand”.
On a Thursday in 1975, one of my colleagues had introduced his guest, Mr.Raghu to me at Vidyanagar. He spoke to me for a few hours and left. A few days later, he wrote the following letter from Madras (dated December 10, 1975):
“Dear Sri Bharadwaja, on my return journey, When I was walking to the coffee house in the bus stand at Gudur, a lady of about 50 years, wearing ochre robes and holy ash on her brow, called me softly by name. I checked up in surprise whether she found my name written on my books, but there was none. She asked me for 30 paise for tea and said, ‘Are you coming from Vidyanagar?’ I told her all about my trip. She said that my meeting you is not accidental as I supposed, but was ordained and said, ‘Go ahead! Do not stop half-way for any reason’. Ever since, I have been brooding over the uncanny incident: ‘Who is she? How did she know my name? What did she mean by saying that my meeting you was ordained? Who has ordained it?’… The same night, I had a dream: I glided in the air to a city where, I was told, a great saint has arrived. When I prostrated to his feet, he said lovingly, ‘You too do it formally? Recite the appropriate mantra while prostrating!’ After I did, I woke up and it was dawn. What a wonderful dream! The saint with his beard and white clothes looked exactly like Sai Baba. My duty henceforth is to devote all my time and energy for Baba. The Lord said that before blessing His devotee fully, He would take away everything and there is no doubt about it. I’ve resigned my job. I’m aware that before I reach my goal, I will have to face much hardship… I wish to visit some sacred temples and gain peace of mind. First, I wish to visit Sai Baba at Shirdi and thereafter, Sri Swami Samarth at Akkalkot. I fully believe that Baba will guide me aright… After sometime, I hope I would be able to come for your darshan. Convey my regards to my friends. Yours, Raghu”. The bird of Baba’s flock fled the cage?
Having noted the fine fruits of satsang at Vidyanagar, let us now turn to a few of such at other places :
In 1978, Mr. Subbaiah of Ongole once chanced to stumble upon a copy of Sri Saileelamritm 1 . He perused it, though with the reservation that it concerned ‘a moslem fakir’ and ‘related to religious nonsense’. But as he turned the pages, he was charmed by the catholicity of Baba’s teaching and his supreme power that operated under the garb of a poor begging fakir. Shortly after, he happened to visit Shirdi along with his family. His zeal and devotion grew stronger. He shared his zeal with his fellows and soon regular weekly satsangs commenced at Ongole and their numbers and frequency grew. The main factor in all this are the personal experiences of Baba’s grace which the devotees had.
Late in the evening one Sunday, satsang was going on in a small temple. Mrs. Iswaramma, an ardent spiritual seeker was witnessing it from a distant spot near a snake pit. Suddenly, she witnessed a strange glow emerge and it enveloped the congregation in the form of a globe. She could even see the faces in the congregation individually in that glow. She thereby testified that the whole group was under the protection of Sai Baba. Later, one Mr. Srinivasa Rao from Ongole visited Sri Samarth Narayana Maharaj in Hyderabad. The latter said, “Satsang and bhajan have been going on very well at your place. With the inspiration of Bharadwaja, a huge Sai Baba mandir is going to take shape there.”
On December 13, 1980 satsang was performed at the house of Mr. Seetharama Murthi. Mrs. Murthi who is an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna read the chapter, “The Guru is all Gods” in the life of Sai Baba and was thrilled. However, she felt that there were no instances in the book, of Baba having appeared to devotees in the form of her beloved deity, Lord Krishna (‘The godman of sky blue complexion’). The same evening, she noticed that the black-and-white framed picture of Baba had mysteriously turned sky-blue in color!! Some of her neighbours remarked that it was an indication that Baba was displeased with her services. She panicked and picked up chits or lots to ascertain the truth. The chit that turned up every time indicated that Baba was pleased with her service. The same night, Baba appeared in her dream and said that he visited her house and that she was needlessly panicked by the signs, that if she put three flowers on the picture the next day, he would depart. She did accordingly. By evening on the next day, the picture turned to its original color! Thus has Baba demonstrated to the lady that Lord Krishna and he were not different from his own picture.
Mr. Krishnamurthi, an officer at Ongole, one day attended the bhajan at Mr. Seetharamamurthi’s house. It was the holy Dattajayanthi day. Suddenly, he had the darshan of a mystic light instead of the picture of Baba in the shrine and he was lost in bliss for some time. Soon after, in gratitude, he thought of offering Rs.116/- to the Sai Baba Mandir at Vidyanagar. Later, he was taking his family to his native place, Guntur, in a vehicle. Five or six miles ahead of the destination, three sannyasis stood in the middle of the road and stopped the vehicle, hailing, “Sadguru Sainath Maharaj ki Jai!” The next moment, one of them addressed Mr. Krishnamurthi, “Give me the Rs.116/- which you have promised me!” The latter was amazed and said, “I do not have the money. Besides, I vowed to send it to the Sai Mandir at Vidyanagar, after I receive my pay!” The sadhu said, “It is the same whether you give it to me or send it to Vidyanagar. You may send it there itself. But I am coming on foot from Nasik. Won’t you offer me a little dakshina?” Mr. Murthi offered him a twenty—rupees note which was in his shirt-pocket. “You have Rs.20/- more in your pant pocket. Why not give it too?” the sadhu said. Precisely that was the amount left with him! He took it out and gave away. But inwardly, he was anxious that it was all he had and nothing was left for his sundry expenses. The sadhu received it, but said, “Why worry that you don’t have anything for pocket expenses? Take it!” and returned Rs.20/-, blessed them and left!
Mr. Anjaneyulu was a devotee of Baba. His little daughter Gayatri used to evince unusual interest in his worship of the great sadguru. One night, he was held up at his office owing to heavy work. At midnight, he had a vision. He saw the little girl sitting on the table in front of him! So vivid was the experience that he was anxious that she might fall down from it and bent forward to hold her. The ‘child’ emanated the characteristic odor of a highly fevered body and vanished in a moment. About two days later, the little girl woke her father up at midnight saying, “Baba has come, dad!” When she was shown a picture of Baba she said, “Yes, it is he! He drove away a male buffalow by his divine power of mantra and has beckoned to me!” Shortly after, she had an attack of common cold for a couple of days. One day the child looked at Baba, dropped the doll in her hand and gave up her spirit. Precisely on the thirteenth day after the girl’s demise, the whole house was pervaded by a strange perfume. The parents took it as the child’s last wish that the Thursday should be observed as holy to Baba and arranged special bhajan and puja. Evidently, Baba has not only indicated the coming event to the blessed parents and prepared their minds, but also vindicated that the death was intentionally permitted by him in the interests of the child’s spirit.
Owing to such experiences, many were drawn into Baba’s fold and, as per the prophecy of Sri Samarth Narayan Maharaj, a satsang hall came up and was inaugurated on August 4, 1982. On that day, a life-size painting of Baba, donated by devotees, was installed in it. One of the principal donors, Mr.Ramana Reddy could not visit the mandir for a few days. One night, Baba appeared in his dream and said, “You have left me there and you have not visited me again!” Next day onwards, he promptly began visiting the mandir often. At one of the mass-feedings at the mandir, one of the devotees distributed prasad to the people. When it was almost spent out, he kept a little of it for a few of his devotee-friends and refused to give it to a poor man who asked for it. The same night, the Master appeared in a dream and was cross with him for not serving him the prasad at the mandir! Evidently, the fakir again insisted that devotees should be aware of his identity with every soul.
Weekly satsang was commenced by Mr. P.Subbaramaiah at the village of Kalichedu, a few years ago. With the passage of time, the spiritual attunement of the group seems to have grown stronger. For, as noted in the chapter The Harbinger Of Grace, the great saint, Avadhuta Venkaiah Swami had graced it on a holy Dattajayanti. Besides, the spirit of satsang seems to have commenced beckoning more souls into its fold. A few instances:
Mrs. Mehaboob Basha was suffering from a uterine tumor for some time. On September 31, 1982, her condition grew serious and she was admitted in Dr. C.R. Reddy’s hospital at Gudur for surgical operation. While she was being operated upon, at noon one day, her condition took a serious turn. Mr. Mehaboob Basha who was anxiously waiting in the doctor’s chamber thought of invoking divine help as his last hope. He stood, alone and friendless, in front of Sai Baba’s picture in that room, offered a lighted joss– stick and prayed, “Lord, am I to be a widower at this age, and are my little children fated to be motherless? Lord, save me from this predicament!” The next moment, some one patted him from behind. As he looked back over his shoulder, he saw a tall old man in clean white dress who assured him, “Nothing amiss will befall your wife. Don’t weep!” Basha wiped his eyes and turned back, but the old man was nowhere! As he stepped out of the room in amazement, the hospital staff told him that the crisis had passed and his wife was out of danger! Shortly after, the young housewife regained her health. Basha atonce realized that Baba had saved his wife. The same day, he installed a framed picture of the immortal fakir in his house and started praying to him every day.
Similarly, there was an instance of a poor ailing housewife being administered a tablet in a dream by Baba and she recovered her health by the next day. A host of such experiences drew several souls into Sai Baba’s fold. One such devotee gave away a small plot of ground for a Sai mandir. In the last week of March 1983, a devotee visited me in Madras and gave me a few chips of the old flooring of Sai Baba’s Dwarakamai, to be used for any sacred purpose. On my way back, the satsang group of Kalichedu met me at Nellore and wanted me to fix a date for the foundation – laying ceremony for the mandir. I chose April 24, a Thursday which is sacred to Baba. Then, I was suddenly impelled to give them the sacred stone chips I had, to be put beneath the foundation – stone to sanctify the proposed structure. The party then asked me to present a beautiful oil painting of Baba for the proposed mandir, so that they could have it as a sacred memento of my love for them. I spontaneously assented. Later, when I considered its size and the costs involved, I felt it was beyond my means. On my way home, I was thinking whether I should request any fellow-devotee to share the expense. At Ongole, my head quarters, one Mr. Ramana Reddy had a dream the earlier night: an old man gave him a challan form and told him to deposit Rs.574/- to the “government”. He woke up and was at a loss to know what the old man (Baba) meant. He enquired whether the local Sai mandir had any arrears to clear, like the electricity bills, but there was no such. He spoke to me about it and readily offered to pay the amount for the proposed oil-painting. Baba has solved my problem.
The painting was made in just three and a half days and framed. On March 21, it was taken in a procession to the local Sai mandir and worshipped. Immediately after, a lady told me that the same day, a little before dawn, she saw a holy old man who resembled Baba in the painting, in her dream. As we discussed the problem of arranging conveyance for the framed 4 ½ feet picture to the out-of-the-way village of Kalichedu, she offered to take it there, as her brother at Nellore had a car. And she had to visit him the next day, anyway! She took it to Nellore by train and her brother received her at the railway station. She was pleasantly surprised to learn at home that her brother’s family was told a few days earlier by an astrologer that a great guru would grace their house on the 23rd. Baba had graced their house in the form of his painting, precisely on that date. They worshipped it with due ceremony and devotion and delivered it at Kalichedu by night fall. In the early hours of the next morning, Baba appeared in a dream to a local devotee and said, “I’ve arrived here last night in a snuff-colored car!” Next morning, he saw the painting and learned that the dream-message was indeed precise and true! When we consider the beautiful pattern of the incidents, we see the power of satsang at work.
The power of satsang is well demonstrated and such activity is what could strengthen the sadhana of individuals while contributing to the moral and spiritual uplift of the society. The Sai Baba Mission at Ongole has therefore been formed to propagate the idea and to furnish the materials needed for conducting such activity, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas.
1 The Telugu Version of this book which is now reissued under the title, “Sai Baba Jeevita Charitra”.