[Mr. Ghandikota V. Subba Rao has been a devotee of Swami for many years. He served with UNICEF and the United Nations, as head of the Energy Section, for 34 years and took early retirement in 1985 to return to India to be with his 92 year old father, Sri Ghandikota Subrahmanya Sastry, the Rishi of the Sathya Sai Gayathri and a renowned Vedic scholar. Mr. Subba Rao has been living in Prashanthi Nilayam since 1985, on occasion translating Swami's speeches, giving lectures to overseas devotees, and editing publications of the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust.]
This writer had already expressed some of his family experiences with SWAMI in two recent publications of the Prashanti Society: Maha Mahima Manusha Vigraha or Man of Mighty Miracles in SRI SATHYA SAI EXTERNAL CHARIOTEER and Man of Mind-boggling Miracles in SATHYA SAI: AVATAR OF LOVE. In the present article, the writer is happy to share with humility a summary account of a number of other interviews with BABA based on notes in Telugu.
An interview with BHAGAVAN SRI SATHYA SAI BABA, a highly prized privilege, is always marked by five elements or experiences, as evident in the interviews described:
This interview was a memorable event for the priceless and profound teachings of BABA, taking off from miraculous materializations.
At the beginning of the interview, SWAMI materialized a good quantity of VIBHUTHI (Sacred Ash) and distributed to all the people in the room. He then materialized a three-stranded gold chain with a pendant of triple-colored six precious stones and gave it with His loving blessings to a lady devotee of long standing. SWAMI then explained the inner significance of the chain with the pendant. The three strands of the gold chain represent the triple governing energies or qualities, namely (1) Serenity and Equanimity (2) Passionate Activism and (3) Inertia. The triple colors of white, red, and black of the precious stones in the pendant similarly symbolize the triple energies in Nature. The six stones represent the six inner obstacles to spiritual progress, namely lust, anger, greed, delusion or infatuation, pride, and jealousy.
The caste system, SWAMI stated, was an arrangement for facilitating the efficient performance of action within the realm of the triple energy principles. Performance of action must be purposeful in serving the advancement of DHARMA or righteousness. SVADHARMA KARMA signifies the pursuit of one's duty in AATHMIC consciousness. It is only then that society evolves in the right direction. Putting the body instrument to work for right action purifies the heart. In a pure heart devoid of the six negative qualities, the truth of the self is realized. This leads to living in the Divine realm, to dearness and nearness to Divinity, to attaining Divine qualities and finally to unity with the Divine. BABA also emphasized that VEDAANTHIC non-dualism is the crowning point and goal of all religions.
SWAMI stated his language is not Telugu only. He has knowledge of all languages including the languages of birds and the beasts. He communicates also with the celestials. He then materialized a silver medallion with SHIVA on one side and the holy Mantra, OM NAMASSHIVAAYA, on the reverse side, still wet with sandal paste, while saying that the celestials at His behest brought it from KAILASH where SHIVA worship had taken place just then!
In the inner room, SWAMI advised us on vital aspects of our family progress including the educational progress of our youngest son. He then stated that He would arrange and perform the marriages of the two younger sons in a grand (GHANA) traditional manner. As promised, six years later the marriages were performed in an unprecedented manner by SWAMI Himself - who personally hosted a thousand guests, in His BRINDAVAN residence near Whitefield, Bangalore, in 1990.
In another interview BABA graciously materialized for us VIBHUTHI and an emblem of SHIVA for my father and blessed us with His Divine teachings interspersed with parables and jokes.
SWAMI began by asking us about true Human Values and Himself answered by saying that first and foremost comes the selfless performance of one's own duty with love and equanimity. It is also imperative to investigate the true nature of Aatma, the inner and all pervading Divine spirit or self.
Self-inquiry is not merely the study of the triple metaphysical texts of GEETHA, UPANISHADS, and BRAHMA SUTRAS. Self-inquiry does not at all connote external worship. It is a deep, inner quest resulting in the blissful total awareness of the Reality of the Self. Such experience is based on a careful inquiry into Nature, individual Beings, and the Primal Source and Force that creates, sustains and dissolves the Universe.
As SWAMI advised, understand Nature's ways and absorb its lessons, just as Gauthama Buddha developed detachment after his traumatic experience of confronting the suffering old people, the sick, and the dying. The Buddha then began His quest for the truth of the Self. All are the children or servants of Divinity; worldly relationships are only body and sense oriented, they are external and never permanent. There is in everyone Unitary Consciousness that endures permanently. Self-inquiry leads to Self-Realization.
In conclusion, SWAMI asserted that in spiritual life and evolution, Self-inquiry and inner quest are of the utmost importance. External discipline and worship occupy a secondary place. The latter involves mobilization of resources, strenuous actions, and most often undue haste and worry too. In this connection, He referred to the needlessly prolonged ABHISHEKA (bathing the idol with water or milk) and PUJA I was performing daily to the SHIVA LINGA (egg-shaped symbol form) given by BABA.
In the inner-room, SWAMI stunned us by pinpointing our problems and our weaknesses and guided in detail how best to solve these problems and advised each one of the family members on the steps we should undertake. With loving grace, SWAMI assured us of His support to our efforts. In retrospect, it must be stated that SWAMI's accurate assessments and blessings immensely helped in the solution of problems and in the success of our undertakings.
In yet another interview lovingly granted by BABA during MAHASHIVARAATHRI occasion, SWAMI materialized VIBHUTHI repeatedly and bestowed it with blessings to the devotees gathered. He materialized medallions, rings and chains, as well as rosaries for several of the devotees including my revered father.
SWAMI explained that the SADHAA SHIVA principle transcends (1) the triple energies of goodness, passion, and inertia (2) the triple time periods (3) the triple states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep (4) the triple worlds and (5) the triple VEDAS. SHIVA conquered desire, attachment, and death. He bestows capacities for similar conquest by His devotees. He is ever auspicious and all-merciful to all, at all times. In contrast, the BRAHMA, VISHNU, and RUDRA principles operate within the framework of their respective functions of creation, maintenance, and dissolution of the Universe and are also time and action oriented. SHIVA is unbound by time, purpose, function, obligation and circumstances.
SWAMI then referred to the PAATANJALI YOGA SUTRA on EASHWARA PRANIDHANA - absorption in the adoration of Divinity. The individual Self enjoys bliss in the deep sleep state just as in SAMAADHI, the state of restful total awareness. Peace, silence, meditative absorption and bliss are the natural expressions of SHIVA.
EASHWARA represents Life Infinite at the cosmic level. HIRANYAGARBHA represents Mind Infinite at the cosmic level, while the VIRAATA PURUSHA represents Cosmic Form Infinite.
In another elevating interview as well as inner-view at about the SHIVA-RAATHRI period, BABA materialized, as usual, VIBHUTHI and distributed it around. He also materialized a ring with OM inscribed in Sanskrit script and gave it to an overseas devotee.
During this interview, BABA dwelt on the necessity for turning inward and for inquiry into the ever-changing phenomenal world of appearances (ASATH) and on the other hand, into the perception of the never changing eternal substratum of Absolute or Supreme Reality (SATH). The capacity to distinguish between the Real and the false appearances (SATH-ASATH) is SPIRITUAL WISDOM.
This Wisdom can be cultivated, initially through the avoidance of bad associations, and by developing taste for good company. The control of inner senses is essential. He advised: do not become a slave of the senses (PARAVASHAM) but gain the mastery of senses (AATHMAVASHAM). In this context SWAMI referred to the Eleven RUDHRAS governing the five senses of perception and the five senses of action as well as the subtle, inner, four-fold instrumentality, ANTHAH-KARANA CHATHU-SHATAYAM (i.e. mind, memory, intellect, and egotism), the eleventh factor. RUDHRA, "Lord of the herd of animals" (PASHUPATHI) ties, as it were, the humans with these eleven longish ropes made out of the threads of their own past actions and binds them all to the rod of MAAYA, the worldly illusion. As they go round and round the rod, their "grazing" radius diminishes to the point that they get glued to the center rod and eventually choke themselves to death. They are then reborn with similar ropes and rounds resulting again in death. Thus, they are fated by their own KARMAS and ignorance to suffer through an endless number of cycles of birth, old age, illness, and death (JANMA MRITHYA JARAA VYAADHI).
SWAMI then stated that for Self or SHIVA-realization one should grow out of the hang-up or obsession for even "good" company and also of hatred to the so-called "bad". Indifference to worldly attractions and equanimity in the face of worldly difficulties must be practiced assiduously.
It is only when positive and negative charges meet that electric current flows. The so-called negativities enhance the power and glory of the positivities. The secret of DHARMA (righteousness) is not easy to grasp. Similar is the secret of the creative cycle: action and reaction, sound and resound, object and reflection are two sides of the same coin. SWAMI then referred to a great votary of non-violence. But, this great soul could not stand the sight of the suffering of an acutely sick cow in his ASHRAM (hermitage). He took great pity and paradoxically he allowed it to be put to sleep. BABA asked: is this a correct understanding of the secret of righteous action? It is not so much the cow's groans of pain that disturbed the onlookers as the feeling of revulsion produced by the groans.
The cow's suffering produced JUGUPSA or revulsion in the beholder and this disturbance was ended with the shooting of the cow. For the act of mercy-killing of the cow BABA stated, this otherwise great patriotic personality had to pay, as it were, a retributive price with his own life - in accordance with KARMA VIPAAKA (fully ripened effect of past KARMA) principle in the DHARMA SHAASTRA (Science of right action).
SWAMI then gave another example of the inexorable Law of KARMA, whose secret is known only to great YOGIS and Divine personalities. Sometimes, SWAMI appears to ignore curing the blindness of a person waiting for SWAMI's grace. SWAMI does alleviate their mental anguish but the watching devotees do not grasp the fact that that person in his past life made another person blind, which fact SWAMI knows. The blind person must pay, at least for some time, the price for his past heinous crime. Therefore, it is not proper to blame SWAMI for not always curing the blind, however much the onlookers might sympathize with the predicament of the blind person, whose past SWAMI knows well.
SWAMI also mentioned that sometimes wars are viewed by some as occasions to relieve the burden of the growing population pressure on the earth. Wars might also have the effect of removing people of misdeeds in their present or past lives. There is also the paradox of the twin guardians at the gate of VISHNU, namely JAYA and VIJAYA, who were cursed to take on repeated births for insulting the visiting sages. After their repentance, they were given the choice of either the faster path of redemption through intense hatred of the Lord or the slower path of more lives of devotion. They chose VAIRA BHAKTHI or the shorter path of enmity for liberation.
The ways of operation of the Law of KARMA and of devotion appear to be strange. For example, PRAHALADA demonstrated unshakable faith in God VISHNU amidst the most horrendous acts of cruelty perpetrated by his own father, HIRANYAKASHIPU, who hated VISHNU and set himself up as the Divinity. The devotee apparently suffers but meets the test with faith and courage.
In VALMIKI RAMAYANA we read of the sorrow and suffering undergone by the exiled RAMA after the forced separation of His wife SITA. The Divine behaved just as a human in many respects in order to drive home the lesson of virtuous and truthful living even amidst difficulties and reverses of fortune.
In the RAMA context, SWAMI referred to the subtlety of DHARMA. True, RAMA killed the VAANARA (or ape) king VAALI from behind a tree. Punishment had to be meted out to VAALI for his transgression of DHARMA in his mistreatment of his own brother SUGREEVA and his wife THAARA. Since VAALI belongs to the animal kingdom, the law of open combat amongst humans does not apply; hence there was no transgression of DHARMA by RAMA, the very embodiment of righteous Action.
Once, in a somewhat special interview, SWAMI blessed me with the materialization of a nice ring with an inset of SWAMI's enameled picture. First BABA inserted the ring on to the ANAAMIKA or nameless ring finger of the right hand. After a few seconds, SWAMI removed it from the ring-finger and inserted it on to the ring-finger of the left hand. He the remarked the God transcends "the right" as well as "the left". In India there is some taboo against wearing a ring on the left hand. But BABA said that it is not improper to wear it on the left.
In the course of conversation with
SWAMI in the interview room, I referred to the United Nations
proposal for an International Year of Peace and pleaded for its
celebration at PRASHANTHI NILAYAM (or the abode of Peace), on
the SHANTHI VEDHIKA (of the Hill View Stadium) or the Altar of
Peace to be presided over by the embodiment of Peace, SHAANTHI
MURTHI, SRI SATHYA SAI Himself and to be attended by an international
gathering of SAI Messengers of Peace (SAI SHAANTHI DHUTHAS) thereby
inaugurating a new era of peace (and progress), or SHAANTHI YUGA.
BABA received the suggestion with a benign smile!
Peace, BABA stated, can become an all pervading force for those who sincerely seek, strive, and work for peace. Truly, Peace of Divinity always exists everywhere. SHIVAAM, SHAANTHAM, ADWAITHAM. Goodness, Peace and Non-Dualism go together.
Sometimes Peace and Happiness emerge from even their antithesis, from chaos, from sorrow and suffering. These are only cyclical in nature. Pleasure is an interval between two pains.
SWAMI declared that Peace cannot be secured by mere political manipulation and military alliances or by "balance-of-power terror" tactics. Peace can be gained only through the development of consciousness, in each one, of his inherent Divinity. BABA stated that instead of merely trying to explore the whole globe and outer space, human beings should probe into their own inner world and remove the accumulated debris of evil thoughts and desires.
When I touched on the subjects of widespread poverty, violence and "religious" conflicts, SWAMI stressed on the need for us to cleanse the heart by constant remembrance and worship of God and thereby develop the capacity to transcend differences. Serve the needy with love, BABA advised. SWAMI repeatedly emphasized that only when people in power and leaders eschew selfishness and develop a sense of sacrifice can most of the problems can be tackled.
In the rest of this long interview, BABA explained at length the KRISHNA-THATWA, the principle of pure Divine Love.
FIRST: There is the RAADHAA aspect of absorption in the continuous flow of DHAARA of deep and abiding love for Divinity. This constitutes the basic foundation and support, AADHAARA, for spiritual life.
SECOND: There is the PAARVATHI principle of developing resplendent inner soul-beauty through pure loving but even emaciating penance for PARAMESHWAR in contrast to PAARVATHI'S earlier failed attempt to captivate SHIVA by the play of outer beauty.
THIRD: This is the cool, soft, smooth butter principle represented by YASHODHA'S motherly love towards KRISHNA. Cow-milk butter is nourishing and refreshing. It does not mix with others except when it meets with the warmth of the mother's all embracing love for the Divine Child. In SWAMI's words again, KRISHNA then was only "thumb sized" but His whole body was filled with the butter of Love. Even after mother YASHODHA envisioned the Cosmic Divine form in the mouth of the clay-eating baby KRISHNA, she persisted in her motherly affection for her dear child KRISHNA, and carried similar strong motherly feeling in all her subsequent births till her yearning was fulfilled again and again.
FOURTH: Then there was the GOPIKAS' uninterrupted one pointed love for KRISHNA all through their lives, made more poignant by long separation after KRISHNA's boyhood period in GOKULAM.
FIFTH: Similarly, MEERA experienced overpowering love for GIRIDHAARI - the name of boy KRISHNA, the lifter of the BRINDAVAN Hill with His little finger. She was totally absorbed and at one with that particular form and name of KRISHNA.
SIXTH: SWAMI then cited the case of THUKAARAAM who frequently lost himself in devotion towards PAANDURANGA whom he adored with moving melodious compositions. In this connection BABA stated that the name of our country, BHAARATHA, stands for the unison or harmony of song, rhythm, beat, and above all devotional feeling.
All in all, this interview was one of the most exhilarating experience marked by an enthralling exposition of the philosophy and practices of the KRISHNA consciousness principle. It was indeed enlightening to hear the contemporary Divine Incarnation explain the spirit of devotion towards another AVATHAAR of great charm, grace, and LEELAS (miracles).
Once, in a remarkable teaching session on Indian Ethos in Management, BABA gave an enchanting exposition on the culture of Management.
Firstly, SWAMI stated that morality and integrity are fundamental values. Based on these, honest and sincere cooperation of labor, management, shareholders, and of government too is a prerequisite for a successful enterprise.
The Second principle is the elimination of inefficiency, waste, and duplication in matters of time, energy, and money at all levels.
The Third most important principle lies in safeguarding the social interest, particularly workers' welfare.
The Fourth aspect is heart-to-heart transparent communications at all levels, horizontal as well as vertical.
SWAMI explained the all pervasive character of pure, heart-felt thought, backed up by firm will and its clear expression in action. These three together constitute the foundation for creative power. Here, SWAMI distinguished between (1) ordinary creativity arising from human willpower and effort connected with the senses. He called this "consenses" - creative power and (2) conscience-related creativity which is the result of disciplined, spiritual effort but also aided by the Grace of the Divine and (3) creative power arising from Divine Consciousness. SWAMI said that there need be no reason or season for the manifestations of Divine Consciousness. Thus SWAMI's materializations or miracles are expressions of naturally radiating energy through vibrations from a pure love-filled heart based on the external truth principle.
SWAMI also said that with the operation of six-fold hand gestures (SHANMUDHRAS) based on the out-flow of Divine Energy, all creative powers can be manifested at the gross, subtle, and subtlest levels of consciousness, including the triadic principle of BRAHMA, VISHNU, and SHIVA.
SWAMI then stated that the science of the inner spirit or consciousness is the most powerful of all sciences. BABA then casually materialized, right in direct view of the small gathering, a palm-sized gold medallion studded with the most dazzling, multicolored stones arranged in the most beautiful pattern around a big diamond-like stone in the center. SWAMI lovingly passed the medallion around and BABA asked me also to have a close look at it. I held it in my own hand gazing intently at this splendorous materialization which had appeared with a wave of BABA's open empty palm. After it made its round, the medallion reached back to BABA's hand and disappeared in a trice!
This demonstrated the triumph of spirituality over matter, BABA said. But BABA then advised us not to be overly fascinated with nature's artifacts but experience through them the origin and source of creation namely, Divinity itself. Fix your attention and love on the Creator, not the created, as SWAMI told us. He also made the stunning declaration that similarly, constitutional changes including genetic or even gender changes can be effectuated in humans and living beings but the outcome is fraught with consequential responsibilities - which is not the case with materializations of inert objects - although even inert objects have feelings too!
SWAMI graced us with yet another unexpected (as almost always) interview on an early spring day.
We all gathered round BABA's high chair with men towards His right and women on His left side. SWAMI materialized copious VIBHUTHI by waving His empty outstretched right palm and instantly catching and holding the Holy Ash with Divine fragrance in the same palm. He distributed the materialized VIBHUTHI to the ladies present.
He inquired about the health of one of the persons and materialized a NETHRA LINGA - an ellipsoid shaped stone with an eye-like mark. He advised the person to drink daily the water poured on the LINGAM for better health.
BABA also materialized for a marriage bride a gold locket with a chain and also a gold coin of vintage 1926 - being the birth year of BABA.
For another person SWAMI materialized a rosary of crystals for JAPA recitation as well as a silver locket for protection.
As He gifted these shining materialized objects, SWAMI lovingly stated: Just as water for fish, tree for a branch, ocean for the river flowing into it, it is only when the individual Self gets united with the cosmic Divine self , will there be fulfillment in life.
BABA said that one should be absorbed in the knowledge of non-dualism as the substratum of one's thought, in the discipline of dedicated performance of action for daily living and life.
Action, BABA explained, without egoism and without longing for its "fruits" is tantamount to NON-ACTION, because it does not generate subtle binding imprints and residual impressions on the mind which acts as "seeds" for future entanglements and births.
SWAMI mentioned that the so-called modernists do not believe in the doctrine of KARMA, REBIRTH, and DIVINE INCARNATIONS. The modernists are "hung up" with the identifications of their inner self with the present body, whereas in our ancient Vedic culture, the eternal spirit indwells the body which is just an ephemeral passing entity.
SWAMI said that westerners completely misunderstand the relation of the GOPIKAS (cowherd girls) with KRISHNA. The much older GOPIKAS were captivated by the small wondrous Divine child of playful miracles, fun, frolic, and mischief as well as of great charm and grace. He was therefore called stealer of the heart-butter of the GOPIKAS. There was never any question of bodily relationship here. It was a wholly pure and spiritual relationship. It requires a pure and elevated mind to understand and realize the sublime aspects of an AVATHAR.
Similarly, the PURAANIC story of SHIVA and SHAKTHI dancing in unison is invested with a significant inner meaning of the inter-active principles of God and NATURE. Such matters can be understood only through discriminative wisdom and intuitive spiritual experiences but not at all through jaundiced sensual and purely worldly and body oriented superficial knowledge. As KRISHNA stated in the GEETHA, the Divine VISION IS PERCEIVABLE, known, experienced, and entered into by pure devotion alone, as BABA emphasized.
In the confidential personal conversation in the inner interview room, SWAMI admonished us by a detailed account of our smallest problems and graced us with His Divine advice, guidance, and clear-cut instructions. He also instructed me in spiritual practices appropriate in my circumstances.
Indeed, an altogether exhilarating and elevating interview!
On one holy Sankraanthi day when the axis of the Sun moves northward, SWAMI lovingly called our family for an interview or to be more correct an "inner-view" as BABA calls it often.
As SWAMI settled down in His moving, maroon colored cushioned "high-chair", BABA lovingly materialized VIBHUTHI, sacred Ash, and distributed to the ladies seated on His left side. He drew my revered learned father close to His Lotus Feet and graciously allowed me to touch and massage His small, soft, delicate Lotus Feet. This thrilled me to no end.
SWAMI then introduced my father to the others, particularly to a former Vice-Chancellor and former Education Minister by stating that GHANDIKOTA SUBRAHMANYA SHASTRY (VIJAYANAGARA AASTHAANA MAHAA VIDHVAAN) was undoubtedly the foremost VEDIC scholar, an unexcelled authentic interpreter of the VEDAS. When the names of comparable, well-known VEDIC scholars were mentioned, BABA emphatically declared that SATHYA SAI speaks only the truth.
To a question on Science and Spirituality, BABA replied that it is much more important to know the science of the inner-self or AATHMA than the Science of the outer physical world. Outer science is the spirit of matter while spirituality is the science of the Inner-Being, the spirit of love and truth. Even the brainy but die-hard colonialist Winston Churchill came to the same realization towards the last days of his long and eventful life. Today, the scientific and technological inventions of men are frightening the very same men.
Man has been exploring the bowels of the earth and also probing the planets and the outer space. But BABA warned that if the balance of nature is to be distributed, the consequences will spell gloom and disaster, unless man begins to master his senses. In any case, the scientist of today is no match to HIRANYAKASHIPU of yore who probed and mastered the five elements and conquered the three worlds. He could even move the Sun but alas, he could not master his own senses and was therefore destroyed at the end.
To another question on widespread poverty, illiteracy, and ill-health in BHAARATH, BABA stated that the fault lies with the selfish and corrupt ruling circles along with the greedy rich, irresponsible parents and undisciplined teachers as well. Should the system be overhauled because of its exploitative and iniquitous nature? SWAMI replied that the use of force will be counter-productive. It is through the "force" of good character, of love, selfless service and human values that abiding changes take place. For example, the mother lovingly and tenderly administers as needed even bitter medicines of different attractive colors suitable to the different tastes of her children.
A doctor asked BABA whether it was possible to escape from the vicious cycle of KARMA and rebirth. Yes, of course SWAMI said, mentioning the example of young MAARKANDEYA who by dint of rigorous discipline, devotion and determination earned the grace of the Lord, gaining immortality.
SWAMI said that people drink only the water on the top without making any effort to stir the sugar at the bottom of the glass, thus missing out on the sweet Divine grace. SWAMI then quoted the THAITTIREEYA UPANISHAD, "RASO VAI SAH" - Divinity is all-sweet ambrosia.
In the inner room of the Interview room SWAMI stated that my father's health would improve and that the fractured hip pain would be lessened with the daily sipping of the water of the NEELAKANTA LINGA - the blue throated/lined SHIVA LINGA materialized by SWAMI. BABA placed his hand on the head of my mother, saying that she was most lucky to have received this form of blessing.
Further, SWAMI advised me and my wife to visit our sons abroad and also wind up some affairs there. When I remonstrated that how would I leave my old, handicapped and ailing father, BABA guaranteed that He would ensure father's health and welfare and there was nothing at all to worry on that score in our absence.
SWAMI advised me that in my circumstances KARMA KAANDA (spiritual discipline involving ritual action) is much less important than the practice of BHAKTHI YOGA - devotional service. SWAMI stated that the body is but a bubble of water. Leave the mundane and undertake spiritual activities. The Law of KARMA, though inexorable, can be counteracted by devotional practices.
Finally the three pathways to divinity are: work, worship, and wisdom. But work is warped by desire. Worship or devotion is vitiated by greed and wisdom is marred by anger. These three can be conquered by unselfish love. This is the RAAJAH YOGA or royal roadway to reach RAMA.
In yet another interview BABA graciously materialized a large piece of sugar crystal candy and asked my father to eat it when his throat felt dry. SWAMI then inquired of my father - how he was finding his stay in PRASHANTHI NILAYAM. My father said he was in perfect peace in BABA's loving proximity. This place is indeed an abode of peace true to its name PRASHANTHI NILAYAM. BABA then said to the effect that outsiders sometimes find this a strange place filled with either starry-eyed or unbalanced people. These outsiders are somewhat like the mad people who find others to be really mad!
Asked about the case of a mentally depressed housewife, BABA said that she was driven to depression by the harsh behavior of her husband and by the lack of love and intimate cooperation between the couple. Then BABA looked into my eyes and stated that so far as my wife and I are concerned, thanks to my wife who sacrificed her comforts to take extraordinary tender loving care in raising five sons abroad (in circumstances of lack of adequate domestic help, with the husband having to be on frequent travels on duty) nevertheless maintained a home of harmony, happiness, and prosperity.
He also mentioned that we spared no efforts to care for my father. However, I knew fully well that it was at SWAMI's timely, explicit instruction that I returned from abroad to serve my aged father, taking early retirement after thirty four years of United Nations service. It was undoubtedly SWAMI, I said, who enabled me and my wife to discharge, although belatedly, our parental or PITHRU RUNAM. It was then that SWAMI placed His Divine hand on the top of my head and I then sensed the flow of some inexpressible energy-producing exhilaration and surging delight in the inmost recesses of my heart. SWAMI graced me with several such elevating experiences over the years.
On another MAHAASHIVARAATHRI day SWAMI seeing a book in Telugu on SANDHYA in my hand, remarked that salutations should be regularly offered to Sun God with the chanting of, and meditation on, the GAAYATHRI MANTRA - thrice a day particularly in the early morning, mid-day and evening times. He stated that one must develop wisdom to distinguish between the never changing reality and the ever-changing worldly enmities. Every letter-sound in the VEDAS is a sacred MANTRA to be meditated upon.
Encouraged by this statement I continued my practice of offering SANDHYA VANDANA regularly along with the inner chanting of the SATHYA SAI GAYATHRI. I learned to meditate on the GAAYATHRI DEVI - as the Universal Divine Mother along side the effulgent and enlightening form of BHAGAVAN SRI SATHYA SAI, as the embodiment of all Divinities.
On a Christmas day, a day after the revelation of the holy SRI SATHYA SAI GAAYATHRI MANTRA by the revered and renowned VEDIC scholar SRI GHANDIKOTA SUBRAHMANYA SHASTRY, BABA graced the family with an interview full of extra-ordinary spiritual insights (a report on this appeared in SANATHANA SARATHI, March 1979)
SWAMI, in an interview, blessed our second son and his wife (who had their two daughters named by BABA - Sai Sunethri and Sivamala) that they would also have a son, a full one year ahead of pregnancy and birth. Later we got news of the pregnancy of our second daughter-in-law residing in Vienna.
A few months later, BABA came up to me sitting on the Verandah in PRASHANTHI MANDIR and said cryptically that He was "filling the bag", whose meaning I could not immediately grasp. The same night my second son frantically called us from Vienna to say that the "water bag" (amniotic sac) broke prematurely and that his wife had to be immediately hospitalized.
Apparently the water bag continued to leak and her hospital stay was continuing too. It was becoming difficult for my son to attend to office, care for the daughters, and do also the daily household chores. My wife and I naturally felt very concerned. But BABA in His Divine mercy assured us that there was no cause for worry at all because He was "filling the water bag" continuously and the children were also being take care of.
In April we moved with BABA to Kodaikanal; every now and then BABA would put us at ease by assuring us of the welfare and progress of pregnancy. BABA kept assuring us that He was taking care and therefore there was no need for us to visit Vienna. In fact He told me to sit back and relax and enjoy our stay in His divine company, as He was providing GARBHARAKSHANA or protection to the baby in the mother's womb, also PRAANA RAKSHANA, or protecting the mother's life and in addition VATSA SAM-RAKSHANA, arranging for the care of the two young daughters; SAI is the protector, nourisher and life saver all rolled into ONE.
It was BABA Himself who broke the news of the birth of a grandson whom He named that very day as "Harshavardhan", in tune with the names of our other two grandsons (eldest son's sons) given by BABA earlier, namely, "Jayavardhan" and "Aaryavardhan".
I must mention here that the doctors monitoring the difficult pregnancy were amazed at the growing baby inside despite continued massive leakage of the amniotic fluid. The doctors monitoring and testing the fetus opined till the very end that the baby was more likely to be another girl.
When the difficult delivery finally took place after two months of prolonged intensive care hospitalization of the mother - it was indeed a most pleasant surprise for my son and daughter-in-law to be told of the birth of a son, as already guaranteed by BABA in advance.
One day in Kodaikanal SWAMI joked and asked me, "where are the sweets?". I did not understand, but SWAMI Himself broke the good news of the birth of our grandson whom He named right away as Harshavardhan, meaning the delight-enhancing one. Indeed it was sheer joy and delight to the mother and father, and all of us too, after a period of pain . Pain, pleasure, heat and cold, joy and sorrow alternate in the time-bound world of ours, as BABA repeatedly asserts.
The transmission of spiritual energy from BABA to His devotees can take many forms. This blessing is termed in YOGIC parlance as SHAKTHI PAATHA - the descent of Divine Energy of a Divine Personality.
There are apparently five or six ways of transmission of Divine Love and spiritual energy from a Preceptor:
The first method takes place through the intense gazing of the Preceptor into the gazing eyes of the Disciple. this is called AKSHI SAMYOGA SHAAKTHI PAATHA.
The second is the mental method of concentrated thought through which the Preceptor sends out powerful waves of spiritual energy to the seeker-devotee in his hour of need. This can be effected also through an object like a ring or chain materialized earlier by BABA and given to be worn by the devotees. This is called MAHA-SHAKTHI PAATHA.
In the third method, the preceptor puts his hand on the heart lotus of the disciple charging it with love and spiritual energy. This is called HRITH-SHAKTHI PAATHA.
In the fourth method, the divine personality places his full stretched right hand on the crown of the head of the spiritual seeker and blesses him. This is called HASTHA MASTHAKA SAMYOGA - the union of the right hand of the Preceptor with the top of the head of the disciple. This results in the nectar of Divine bliss overflowing from the head downwards.
In the fifth method, the Preceptor responds to the sincere heartfelt request of the seeker who is allowed to place, in humble supplication, his head and both hands on the feet and toes of the Preceptor. The feet and toes of the preceptor exude PRAANIC SPIRITUAL ENERGY. In this manner the sin-erasing life-supportive and protective energy is transmitted to the deserving devotee.
The sixth method combines all the above aspects in one single total event of great spiritual significance. The devotee supplicates in loving, self-effacing humility by falling full length in front of the Divine Preceptor; the seeker places his both hands and head on the Lotus feet and toes of the Preceptor while looking in deep absorption and with wide open eyes into the gazing eyes of the preceptor. The GURU or Preceptor places his open right hand on the head of the devotee and blesses at the same time. In this moment of mutual touch at PRAANIC and spiritual levels, the disciple experiences incomparable inexpressible, ecstatic, and overflowing bliss in his inmost being.
The writer can vouchsafe the fact that over the years on a few memorable occasions, he experienced waves of bliss and peace as a result of the loving grace-filled touch of Bhagavan's outstretched right palm on the writer's head, a gesture called HASTHA MASTAHKA SAMYOGA.
The last time the writer experienced this bliss-filled ecstatic experience was at the end of an interview in TRAYEE BRINDAVAN in Whitefield, Bangalore - when BABA graciously acceded to the request of the writer and bestowed on him this rare privilege of being "bathed" in divine bliss.
BABA, in a talk given the next day, told the students that when He places His hand on top of the head of students it is the result of the merit earned in their previous lives. This seemingly casual act on His part is invested with tremendous significance to the recipient, cleaning their mental debris and healing their ills of body and mind and eventually launching them on the unfailing path of spiritual self-realization. But then, as He remarked, only a few know its true significance and realize its full benefits. The receivers must fully open their hearts to the Divine at the time of such HASTHA MASTHAKA SAMYOGAM.