SARVA DEVATHAATHEETHA SWAROOPA SRI SATHYA SAI VRATHA KATHA- Chapter 2- MAHIMA KAANDA (Swami’s Divine Deeds)
From the time Sri Bala Bhagawan took up residence in Karanam Subbamma’s house crowds of people from nearby villages, desirous of his Darshan, began converging on that house. They were worshipping him with intense faith and devotion. After participating in the Bhajans they were returning home with their hearts overflowing with happiness and satisfaction. Subbamma too was feeling overjoyed at her good fortune of witnessing these glorious developments. She was fully conscious that all that was happening around her was solely due to Sri Bala Sai’s personal benediction. In gratitude, she willingly and happily placed her expansive house at the free disposal of Baba’s devotees. She was also making arrangements for feeding them too. She was convinced that nothing in life was more precious than serving the devotees who continued to arrive in ceaseless flow. Ever since his arrival at her house, Sri Bhagawan was holding regular Bhajans morning and evening. As the gatherings swelled by the day it soon became difficult to accommodate them within the house. Crowds spilled into the street outside. To meet the situation, Subbamma got a huge pandal erected for holding Bhajans. Outstation arrivals from Bangalore and Anantapur were bringing their own tents. Even so the space available proved to be still insufficient. Further it became evident that a large kitchen was also urgently needed for providing meals to the ever-increasing visitors. Quite often, it so happened that the quantity of food prepared would appear to be insufficient. When such doubts arose, the matter was taken to Sri Baba. He would simply send for two coconuts, knock one against the other thereby producing four equal pieces, collect the water and sprinkle it on the vessels holding cooked food and order it to be served. Irrespective of the number of guests the quantities were proving to be sufficient to feed every one of them. Those who witnessed such miraculous incidents would conclude that only the fantastic spiritual powers of Sri Baba could make them possible.
Sometime later, the Old Temple was constructed and Sri Baba moved there. As for Subbamma, even as she grew old in course of time, she continued to serve the devotees with unfailing dedication.
It was noticed that now and then Bala Bhagawan was going somewhere without telling anyone. On such occasions, Subbamma, accompanied by a handful of persons, would go in search of him. The group would go over every hill and cave and grove and along the Chitravathi in every possible direction. Finally, they would chance upon him, sitting all alone, in deep contemplation. They would beg and persuade him to return home. Subbamma’s motherly affection for Sri Baba was boundless. As he was thus making himself scarce quite often, devotees constantly feared that he might some day abandon them altogether and disappear for good. As the cosmic purpose for which he had taken incarnation was quite beyond their comprehension, they were feeling distraught and uncertain about what the future held.
Be it remembered that it is an inherent and absolutely natural function of Sri Bala Baba’s Avatar to give happiness and enjoyment to his devotees, through displays of his immense divine powers (Mahimas) by performing supra-natural deeds. Quite often, he would take his devotees to the Chitravathi sandbanks and hold evening Bhajans there. On one such occasion he revealed that for the first sixteen years of his life he would display his Leelas, for the next sixteen his Mahimas, and the rest of his life would be devoted to activities like discourse and Upadesh (exhortations). In the sands of the river, at evening times, Sri Bala Bhagawan was frequently exhibiting his supra-natural miracles (Mahimas) and divine visions. Several of those who were fortunate to witness those astonishing incidents are happily still with us. One day he took his devotees to the top of a hill lying to the right of the pathway leading to the river. He seated himself under a tamarind tree, which has since become celebrated as Kalpa Vriksha (wish-fulfilling tree), and told them that he would give them whatever fruit they desired. He went on plucking fruit after fruit from the branches of that tree as his eager devotees asked for mango, orange, jamoon, guava or blackberry. Such was the measure of his immense divine powers. On another occasion, leaving his devotees in the river sands, he went up the nearby hill all by himself. From high up, he called to those down below and told them to look at him. As they did so, they saw a brilliant circle of light around his head. Occasionally, a divine effulgence, blindingly bright, would be seen on his forehead. In a moment, it would vanish and he would be seen with the serene visage of Sri Shirdi Baba. On moonlit nights, the divine face of Sri Baba would be seen on the disc of the moon in the sky. Once he repaired to the far bank of the river and entered a grove of trees. He got a swing made of stout ropes fixed to the branch of a tree and was swinging himself merrily back and forth. The devotees sat on the ground enjoying the spectacle. Suddenly he asked them to look at him intently. As they watched with eyes wide open, in a moment they saw the vision of Bala Gopal of Brindavan gently swinging back and forth in a beautiful flower-bedecked swing. A few devotees would sometimes go into a swoon because they were not strong enough to face such Mahimas, magnificent displays of awesome divine powers. On such occasions, Sri Baba would materialize akshathas by a wave of his hand, sprinkle them on the unconscious devotees and revive them. Once some devotees arrived from Kamalapuram and while they were with Sri Baba he enquired whether they would wish to hear the divine music of Sri Krishna’s flute. He then asked them to place their heads close to his chest and listen carefully. They were astonished to hear the enchanting musical notes of flute emanating from his bosom. Sri Sai Bhagawan is none else but Sri Parabrahmah Satchidananda Moorthy himself. To each one of his devotees according to his individual wish, Sri Baba was providing everything in order to make all of them happy and pleased. Such was his innate love and kindness towards his devotees.
Meanwhile, Sai Bhagawan’s name and fame were spreading far and wide in many countries. People were hearing wonderful stories about him that Shirdi Baba had reincarnated in Puttaparthi; that he was displaying astonishing Leelas and Mahimas; that he was healing every kind of disease; and that he was relieving suffering of every description. Thousands of devotees were making their way to Puttaparthi to have his Darshan. He was receiving one and all with open arms with overflowing love and kindness; he was patiently lending ear to every tale of suffering and woe; he was offering relief from every agony; and sending everyone of them back happy and pleased. He would busy himself day and night. Dedicated and enthusiastic, he was immersing himself in his mission of mercy and love of his devotees. Some of his closest associates tried to prevail on him to take things easy, to be content with merely giving spiritual lessons and not to wear himself out physically, to allow himself adequate relaxation and rest. He would heed no such advice. He explained, “Why are all these persons rushing to me if not to seek relief from their problems and sorrows? Of what use is mere bodha (preaching) to a person beset with baadha (suffering)? I should first relieve them of their agony. Once they attain bodily comfort and happiness, they will turn into devotees and undertake Bhajans”. This too, he would further add, was part and parcel of his scheme of things, his programme of action. From every nook and corner, countless persons were reaching Sri Baba seeking relief from chronic diseases of every description, bodily ailments and disabilities and, most importantly, possession by evil spirits. With immense pity and kindness he would heartily receive them and send them back home fully healed and happy. Several devotees were begging him to visit their towns or villages. Just to please them, Sai Bhagawan would go there. Out of love and gratitude they were cheerfully receiving him in their homes happy at their good fortune at playing host and worshipping him to their hearts’ content. Once he met a devotee who was chronically ill with gastric ulcer, which had been troubling him for a long time. With his usual wave of hand he materialized all the needed surgical instruments for operating on him and fully relieved him of his chronic ailment. That devotee thus received not only sound health but also heavenly bliss at the hands of Sri Baba himself. As Sri Baba went on displaying his Mahimas, people went on swarming to him in ever increasing numbers and received his benediction.
Sri Sathya Sai Bhagawan was always assuring devotees, “Why fear, when I am here? Wherever I may be at any moment, I will unfailingly be looking after your welfare”. Once he was walking in the company of his devotees on the seashore near the seaside town of Machilipatnam. Leaving the others behind he entered the waters and proceeded forth walking into deeper waters. Suddenly everyone heard some loud report and looked intently towards the distant sea. There in the midst of far off waters all of them saw a clear vision of Seshasayee (Lord Vishnu) reclining on the bed formed by the celestial serpent, Adisesha. The vision was sharp and clear and lasted but a minute. The next moment the devotees found Sri Sai Bhagawan standing by their side. They were all overjoyed; they realised that they had the rare privilege of witnessing, with their own physical eye, a cosmic Truth. Sri Sai Bhagawan moving among them in flesh and blood was no way distinct from Sri Maha Vishnu (Srimannarayana) reclining on his bed of Adisesha, of whom they had a vision just a while ago.
Those who completely and unreservedly surrender themselves to Sri Sai Bhagawan, who sincerely yearn for his protection, worship him with genuine devotion and faith and seek refuge in him are defended and protected by him. Even those who are not quite aware of the divine significance of Sri Sai’s Avatar, those who have not even seen him, those who have not even heard his name – all those will nevertheless receive his love and kindness and blessings. Once Sri Bhagawan was on a long journey traveling in his car. As he was passing through a sparsely peopled area he noticed a young woman walking along the road with a small bundle on her head and a child at her hip. Apparently she was going to her village on foot. Sri Bhagawan ordered the car to be stopped and called the woman to come near. He gave her some money and some eatables. He told her, “The festival of Deepavali is approaching, celebrate it in good style and enjoy yourself”. Then he enquired whether she had ever heard the name of Puttaparthi Sai Baba. She replied that she had heard the name but never saw him. With gentle smile lighting up his face, Sri Baba told her, “I am myself that Puttaparthi Sai Baba”, and resumed his journey. What more convincing proof is needed to establish that Paramatma looks upon every being with a perfect sense of equality, with even measure of love and compassion – a truth which the Vedas have been proclaiming for ages.
Sri Sai Bhagawan is an unfathomable ocean of love and compassion and his Mahimas know no end. It is impossible for anybody to enumerate them. This Avathar has come down to earth only for the cosmic purpose of resurrecting and restoring dharma to its pristine position of pre-eminence, to establish Truth and to save mankind. Sai Bhagawan’s Avatar is the embodiment of Truth and he is always at the beck and call of his eager devotees. If a devotee as much as recalls his name, he presents himself at once before him and blesses him. There was an interesting event worthy of record here. Once some devotees decided not to go to Puttaparthi for Sri Bhagawan’s birthday celebrations but to observe the great day in their own place. Elaborate arrangements were made; pictures of Sri Baba were decorated with large flower garlands and made ready for Pooja. Worship was duly completed and the devotees were performing Bhajan. At the same hour, thousands of devotees congregated at Puttaparthi for the usual birthday celebrations. Sri Sai was happily moving among them and speaking with them. But, simultaneously, without anyone noticing it, he transported himself to that far off place where his devotees were performing Bhajan. On one of the flowers on the right side of the garland decorating his picture in the Pooja, he appeared in miniature form. Wearing red clothes and mounting a white horse, he was seen by one and all. The horse was about an inch tall and his body was about an inch high. He was seen with his hand raised in benediction. The vision lasted for about three minutes. Photographs were taken which still exist. The devotees at Puttaparthi never knew that Sri Sai had been away from them even for a minute. And those who were doing Bhajan at a place far removed from Puttaparthi had never expected that Sri Sai would present himself at their celebrations. But once they beheld, most unexpectedly, the image of Sri Sai in their flower garland their rapturous joy knew no bounds.
This is but a single instance of Sri Sai’s abounding love and affection. Devotees alone can fully enjoy the bliss of such Mahimas.
The above incident had an interesting sequel. About four days after the birthday celebrations devotees from that village went to Puttaparthi to have Sri Sai’s Darshan. As soon as he noticed them, he beckoned them to him and smiling softly said, “You were so good to pray to me with such intense devotion. I therefore hastened to you on a white horse and appeared before you”. The devotees were delighted to hear those words and told each other that Sri Sai himself stated what they themselves wanted to tell him in person and had traveled all the way to Puttaparthi. They bowed to his feet in reverence and went their way.
Common people may think that here is an instance of Sri Sai’s immense Mahimas. But it is but quite a natural and essential part of Sri Sai Bhagawan’s agenda of providing happiness and mental pleasure to His devotees. Appearing before those who are facing dangerous situations and rescuing them; assuming various forms for saving numberless devotees caught in diverse difficulties – such Mahimas are only a few incidents in the scenes featured in his cosmic stage play. They are manifestations of his inherent, characteristic principle of compassion and love. They are inextricable part and parcel of the cosmic purpose behind his Avatar. In the earlier Avatars, he was overcoming evil forces and dealing out commensurate punishment to them. In the present Avatar there is no question of any code of punishment. The dominant and primary principle is now to transform and correct the evildoers by gentle persuasion and turn them to the path of virtue and piety. What we are beholding before us is Prema Avatar. Sri Sai is the encapsulation, personification of love, pity and kindness. His creed is to save those who are suffering, who are oppressed. It is our extra-ordinary fortune to be able to see and feel Bhagawan moving among us, with us, in flesh and blood. May all the people the world over perform Sri Sathya Sai Vratham with abiding devotion and obtain fulfillment of their hearts’ desires through His divine grace and blessing.
End of Chapter 2
Pooja will be performed again. A coconut or fruit will be offered as naiveidya. After Aarti the recitation of the Katha will be resumed.