The Good Old Days with Sri Sathya Sai - By K.S. Ramakrishna Reddy

Sri Ramakrishna Reddy with Swami in Kodaikanal (2007)

When I look at the years spent in the loving presence of Swami and think for a moment of His movements and gestures that indicate the pinnacle of human perfection and kindness, I feel overwhelmed. If we observe the 'human' in Him, filled with compassion and understanding, it would be a lesson in human values for us.













Sri Sathya Sai in the hills of Ooty and Kodaikanal
In May 1975, Swami took a small group of students to Ooty. Though many instances of His greatness stupefied me, some come to my mind quite often. After a week's sublime stay in Ooty with Swami, we were returning to Brindavan. On the way, somewhere near Mudumalai forest, an old lady was gathering firewood while her little grandson was sitting on the bare ground beside the road. When Swami noticed them, His heart melted at their poor condition. Immediately, He asked the person driving the car to stop. Without uttering a word, He got down from the car and went straight to her. The old lady looked bewildered not knowing the stranger standing near her, shining like an angel with compassion. Our kind Lord, to make her realize the good fortune that had befallen her in such an unexpected way, gently asked, “Do you know Me?” “Don't know, Sir,” was the meek reply. With a twinkle in His eye, Swami asked, “Have you heard of Puttaparthi Sai Baba?” The lady said, “Yes, Sir.” “That is me!” Baba answered. Immediately, she fell at His feet. Swami gave her some sweets and money, and blessed her. 
Sathya Sai with Students and devotees during a picnic in the forest hills
During our stay in Ooty, one day, Swami took us for an outing to the mountains. At a shady place, we settled down and Swami narrated some incidents from the Puranas. After the talk, He distributed sweets to all of us. At that time, a group of people, mostly tribal, working in the nearby fields and woods, gathered at a distance. They looked overjoyed at the luck that had befallen them. One cannot imagine how enthralled they were when Swami walked up to them with a packet of sweets and patted each one of them and gave them sweets. 

During the 60th Birthday celebrations, one day Swami called a group of people from the surrounding areas of Puttaparthi, mostly of the lower classes, to receive clothes. After they were seated in the Mandir compound in rows, Swami graciously moved among them and allowed them to have Sparshan of His feet. Daily, we see many such incidents where Swami shows that He does not take any note of caste, creed or economic status to bestow His grace. When men of high social status visit Him, it may be their assistants or deputies who get a lot of attention first. Famous educationists and other men of learning wait for a single glance from Him, while the children of His school get a chance to enjoy His proximity for long hours. Man-made barriers do not come in the way of the flow of Love that has come to sanctify the high and low, the weak and strong, the faithful and the faithless. 

Not merely to humans, His Love flows even to plants and animals as well One evening, in Brindavan Ashram, outside the Mandir, we were waiting for Swami’s Darshan. Swami came out, went to the Sai Ram shed to bless the devotees and while returning to the Mandir, His compassionate look fell on the plants that were growing on either side of the path. Evidently, they hadn't  been watered properly and some of them were withering away. He noticed this probably heard the pleadings of the thirsty plants and looking at us, said, “See these plants. Can't you pour some water?” 

One evening in 1965, when Sai Geeta was only a few months old, the mahout spanked her while giving her some training. Sai Geeta trumpeted in pain. When the kind Lord heard her piteous cries, He opened the window of His room and admonished the mahout who was standing near the elephant that was tied a tree just a few yards away from the  window. 

Not merely kindness in His actions do we see, but also perfection in His etiquette and manners. Swami is a great model in all that He does. On May 6th, 1973, during the Eswaramma Day Celebrations, Swami wanted to serve Prasadam to the people assembled in Brindavan. Some of us were standing close by carrying buckets filled with Payasam (a sweet dish) in one hand and a ladle (serving spoon) in the other. Swami asked me to come near and stretched His hand. Immediately, I handed over the ladle that was in my left hand, to Him. A thought flashed through my mind; “Swami says that it is not auspicious to hand over items with the left hand. Therefore, I should have held the ladle in my right hand before handing it over to Swami.” But, when Swami asked me for the spoon, I did not want to cause any delay. I thought that Swami would not notice this small slip, that too in such a crowd. But I was wrong. Immediately, there was stern look from Swami and words of admonition followed. Thus, I understood that for Swami, perfection is important at all times.

As a loving father, mother, and teacher, the immense care that He takes, the understanding that He displays and the seemingly simple words that he speaks, convey His knowledge of the present, past and the future. Through small gestures, with a word or two, He conveys to us effectively that which is good for us and that which we should avoid. Once in 1964, when I had an opportunity to sit close to Him, one volunteer came to Swami praying for something. Swami mischievously looked at him and asked, “Had Dhoopam (smoke from incense sticks) and came here?” As I was very young then, I couldn't grasp the pun on the word. Maybe, the ever loving Lord did not want the elderly person to feel hurt before the young children though he had the impudence of coming before Swami after smoking a cigarette. Therefore, Swami used an unconventional word. 
Sri Sathya Sai in the Prasanthi Nilayam Mandir Balcony (circa 1960s)
During the early sixties, quite often, Swami would come to the southern end of the Mandir balcony to give Darshan. One morning, while going to school, I saw Swami standing on the balcony and just four-to-five devotees standing below with folded palms. Hurriedly, I too went closer to the balcony. Turning towards me Swami said, “Don't go to school today. Chitravati River is in floods.” My little heart leapt up in joy, for I had been sanctioned a holiday from the Lord Himself.

That evening, at around 3 p.m. the devotees gathered at the foot of the hillock near the present guesthouse area. They were to dig and carry mud and spread it on the ground around the Mandir, where, because of the previous day's rain, there were a number of breaches. Devotees were standing in rows and passing basket-full of mud from one end to the other. Because I was a small boy, I was carrying empty baskets and passing them on. Noticing me running up and down the line, Swami came close to me and said, “Go home, you should study well.” I was wonder-struck at this remark. That very morning, He had told me that I need not go to school and in the evening He did not allow me to have a free time! Swami knows when to be lenient and when to be strict. He is a true Master! As for the floods in the Chitravathi River, I heard from the other students that some of them had attempted to cross the river but couldn't make it because of the force of the flow. 

On October 15th, 1995, during the Paduka Pooja, some devotees offered their worship at the Lotus Feet with gold coins. After the Pooja, Swami picked up some of the gold coins and tossed them at the crowd like chocolates. This kind of non-attachment to material things is something one never sees elsewhere. 

The miracles He performs to reveal His Divinity are countless. On a Krishna Jayanti Day, while speaking about Lord Krishna, Swami picked up a small jasmine garland placed on the throne, plucked some petals and hurled them on to the ground. As soon as the petals touched the ground, they turned into precious gems. 

One can recall a number of such incidents with no end. But I am of the opinion that, more than these miracles, which speak of His unconditional Grace for all, His Love and Wisdom strike a deeper chord in us.


- K.S. Ramakrishna Reddy
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Arts, Science and Commerce College, Brindavan
Currently, Faculty Member, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School
Prasanthi Nilayam

Source: 20th Anniversary Issue, SSSHSS

12 comments:

  1. Dear Sir,

    Sairam!

    Really nice article. Enjoyed reading it.

    Regards,
    Sai Sundar

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Sir,
    Sairam. Nice reading your article..wonderful..
    Hoping to hear more from you

    regards
    Satya

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Sir,
    Sairam. Lovely article..hope to hear more from you

    Regards
    Satya

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sairam Sir
    Nice Blog. Please continue.
    Jayaram

    ReplyDelete
  5. sairam sir....
    such an amazing experiences....
    swami divine grace always on you......
    varun&tharun

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sairam Sir,

    It was pure pleasure reading this article.

    Please do share more of good old golden days experiences.

    best regards
    mahesh athi

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sairam! Thanks for sharing with us some golden moments.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sairam! Thanks for sharing some golden moments.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Sir
    It is pure joy to read this; it is like time travel !

    SaiRam

    Rajesh

    ReplyDelete

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