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I was born in an obscure village in North Travancore when the nineteenth century had still two years and a few days to run. I had my schooling in the Cochin State under a great Headmaster who had met Swami Vivekananda and who lit in our little lamps the flame of prayer and contrition. I attended College at Trivandrum and, after finishing my M.A., and B.L., I secured a job as Lecturer in History, in a College in Mysore.
The country boat in which I and my wife and my mother journeyed along the canals and backwaters of the West Coast on the first lap, of the journey to catch the train at Ernakulam was halted past midnight in the middle of a dark blue backwater by a Chowkidar, who shouted his orders from the shore. He called out from the black night, "Where are you going?" and waited for the answer! My boatman had a fine sense of humour. He shouted back, "We are going to Mysore!" The Chowkidar was in no mood to reprimand him for impertinence, for he, too, did not lack in humour. He laughed and said, "Why do you say Mysore? Don't you know of a place beyond Mysore?"
Little did we know then, that there was a place beyond even Mysore; a couple of hundred miles to the north of that City, a place called Puttaparthi which was to provide us harbourage from the turbulent storms of the sea, where I was to get the Teacher I wanted, when my career as a University Teacher and Principal was about to come to a close.
Yogi Sudhananda Bharathi, the famous mystic poet of Tamilnad said, in April 1959, addressing an Adhyatmic Conference at Venkatagiri Town over which Sri Sathya Sai Baba presided. "I have practised Yoga for over 50 years; I once observed the vow of silence continuously for over 20 years; I have come in contact with Sri Shirdi Baba, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Meher Baba and others; now, as a result of all this Sadhana, I have met Sri Sathya Sai Baba"...
I served as the Secretary of the Sri Ramakrishna Mission at Mysore for over seventeen years; I came in contact with Sri Siddarooda Swami, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Meher Baba, and Sri Narayana Guru; I was initiated into Japam by Mahapurushji, the direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and President of the Mission; and I am now convinced that as a result of all this, I sat at the Feet of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in 1948.
After I retired from the service of the University of Mysore, I have rejoiced in Baba's Presence except for a short period when I worked with All India Radio as a Producer. I have had the good fortune of mingling with many devotees of Baba who have longer and closer associations with Him; I have availed myself of every opportunity of witnessing His Mahima and listening to His Discourses.
This book has long been under preparation and I am happy that it is now placed in your hands. Baba always speaks of personal experience, not books, as the best way of knowing Him and, this has been, in the main, responsible for the delay. But, however inadequate, this book might be useful in revealing to the reader the reasons for the extraordinarily intimate loyalty that binds me and others to Him. Baba is Himself an Open Book, with no mystery or pomp or abstruseness about Him and every one can approach Him and secure His Grace.
Devotees of Baba might brush aside this book as superfluous because they know most of it already, and much more besides. Moreover, they might blame me for the rather cold tone of narration, which is inevitable when Baba is described in print. They might also notice that I have committed many understatements and omitted many Mahimas, which in their opinion, are more significant than the ones I have selected. I most humbly crave their indulgence.
Those who are unaware of Baba might, on the other hand, condemn me as a crank or even worse. I have very great sympathy for such, for I too demurred, doubted and disbelieved, with all the sarcasm and satire found in the Kannada novels, dramas, and essays which I wrote and published. For many years, I too in my stupid pride did not make any effort to meet Him. I invite every one, now, to come and share with me His Grace and Karuna and stand witness, like me, to the Divine Power that He personifies. May this book be a signpost for all Humanity to the New Life, merged in SATHYAM-SIVAM-SUNDARAM!
23 November 1961, Birth Day, N. Kasturi
Prasanthi Nilayam, 23 November 1982, N. Kasturi
The author wishes to convey his respectful thanks to the members of the Rathnakaram Raju family at Puttaparthi, especially to Sri Pedda-Venkapa Raju and Sri Seshama Raju for giving him many significant details of Baba's early years; he also owes much to the teachers of the Bukkapatnam and Uravakonda schools and to devotees from Kamalapuram and large number of devotees from Bangalore, Madras and other places who have readily responded to his request for information.
Congratulations, dear reader! I am glad you have taken this Book in your hand and decided to delve into its pages. In the first volume of this Book, "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram", I communicated the story of the Advent of the Divine, as Baba, in human form; of the early years of suprahuman intelligence; of the epoch-making announcement of the fact of Incarnation; of the marvellous works and signs by which He gives understanding to those whose hearts beat slow; and the richness of His mercy, the universality of His comprehension, the might and munificence of His compassion.
I am now seventy six years old. He has let me live the last twenty five years with Him, in Him, through him, by Him, for Him. This I is but a reflection of the 'I' which is He. I am full of thanks that He has preserved me and that He has permitted and prompted me to declare again His doings among the peoples.
I am but an amateur sherpa, trudging along the panoramic path to the highest Himalayan Peak, thrilled to sublime silence by the glory and grandeur that grow with every onward step, gasping to tell others, in the anaemic prattle of the plains, the upsurge of empyrean joy. There are thousands, millions, on the mountain tracks, drawn by the strange fascination of the Supreme Power, the Sempiternal Wisdom and the Sovereign Love of the Gaurishankar that Baba is. Many of them have, I know, firmer grasp, finer perception and maturer wisdom. They are more acclimatised to altitudes and better trained to overcome the hazards of the heights. I do hope you will soon be able to delve into the pages of a book that emerges through such a pilgrim.
Meanwhile, come! Give me your hand; we shall go along, page after page, sharing the wonder and the wisdom, the awe and the mystery, the truth and the testimony, the glory and the grandeur, and the abundance of the peace.
Prasanthi Nilayam, Dasara 1973, N. Kasturi
I am trudging still, at eighty five, onwards and upwards towards the Lotus Feet. I find many sturdier companions on the pilgrim track, climbing higher and higher, uplifted by His grace.
Brindavan, Ramanavami 1981, N. Kasturi
"From where the words of men return, foiled in their urge to fathom; which even Imagination finds unattainable," whom the Upanishads denote only by negation and denial - 'That' is Baba, the subject of this book. He declares that He is in each of us and that we are all in Him. He proclaims that it is futile to gauge His Reality.
"I am neither man, nor god, nor archangel nor angel. I am not to be known by the name of any of the four castes or of the four stages of human life. Know me as the Teacher of Truth, Sathyam Sivam Sundaram," said Baba once. The picture in its first stage is in the negative: when it is 'developed' it becomes clear and true.
Baba has made it clear and true. He says He is Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram. These are the three manifestations of the Prema that He is, the Love which He embodies. Love as thought is Truth; Love as Action is Goodness; Love as Feeling is Beauty.
How can the amazing story of the multifaceted, transforming and indelible impact of Baba be delineated by any pen, howsoever pious and profound?
But the authentic ecstasy one is immersed in when one is blessed by the slightest or shortest contact with Baba's Love, presses upon the feeblest pen to all on all, to come and share it, however illegible the call.
Baba has come in answer to mankind's agony. He says, "Good men and their own inefficiencies, sighed for a Saviour to guide them and lead them: and I have responded."
Therefore, it is the right of all men everywhere to listen to a narrative - however halting and hazy - of the Divine Play of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, of His Guidance and Leadership.
The first part of this Book appeared in 1960; the second was placed in your hands in 1961: the third is now most humbly offered for your deep, delightful perusal. I am grateful that Baba blessed my hand that it may string the records of His Leelas and Mahimas into a Garland to be placed at His Feet.
Brindavan, Bangalore, 20 February 1974, N. Kasturi
I should apologise for allowing ten eventful years to pass by since placing Part III of 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram' in your hands before doing the same with Part IV, although Bhagavan has been keeping me alive and attentive beyond my expectations. But since I have never felt that I am the writer, I plead 'not guilty' and desist.
It has become well-nigh impossible to keep pace with the ever-expanding manifoldness of the manifestation of Divinity that is Sai. That almighty Love overwhelms us into blissful silence; the all-encompassing Power makes us aware of our inadequacies. Nevertheless, the Divinity in us draws us to Him, even while He seeks us, the straying as well as the steady ones, to keep us in His cosy custody.
Lord Krishna describes to Arjuna those who had received the impact of His grace, thus: "My sweetness has soaked into every level of their consciousness. They live in Me, by Me, for Me. They take delight in narrating stories centred around My sport and My compassion. They share with others the love, the wisdom and the power I impart, and all reap immense gain thereby."
I invite you to participate in this holy sharing. Travel from page to page as a pilgrim, with humility, faith and hope, tarrying at every turn to fill your hearts with visions of the many-turreted Citadel of God and God Himself. With each vision of His glory, we shall gain nearness and dearness to Him, who has come to accept us as His own nearest and dearest.
The Songs He Sings
Thirty five years ago, when Baba was emerging from teenage, He sang this song while at the Mandir (temple) on the outskirts of the village where He was born. He has been, since childhood, a stream of sweetness, singing His way into the hearts of all around Him. Since He was not of the earth, but very concerned to transform the earth into Heaven, His songs then, as now, were designed as a call to man to benefit from the mystery, the majesty and the magnificence of His incarnation. This song, in Telugu, emerged from Him spontaneously, on the morning of Vaikunta Ekadasi (the holy day in the Hindu calendar celebrating the opening of the Doors of Heaven), in 1945, while devotees were busily stringing thick garlands of Tulsi (basil) leaves to worship Him.
I have heard it sung since 1948 by those to whom He dictated it. It was also printed in 1946, along with other songs sung by Baba in those early days, at Venkatagiri by the Raja Saheb.
"Choothaamu, Ra Ra," it exhorts us. "Come! We shall see! Come! Awake!" it warns. "Arise!" it commands. "Advance!" it pleads. And through this song, in cosmic compassion, the call comes to each one of us even today.
Come brothers! Come sisters! We shall go
On the Chitravathi sands,
Come brothers! Come sisters! We shall go.
He is, they say, Siva and Rama,
He is the God the Kaliyuga doth need;
Come brothers! Come sisters! We shall go.
Whenever one prays in agony,
Those who go to Puttaparthi
As soon as He Wills, 'tis said, His palm is full
Come brothers! Come sisters! Let us go.
Join us, you uppish pseudo-wise,
From far, far away, some dim-eyed dons
In Parthi Mandir, now, on this holy day.
This call has brought the world to Puttaparthi where the Third World Conference delegates, numbering about ten thousand, from various units of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Samithi, are meeting during the Birthday festival, 1980.
This Tulsi leaf - Part IV of 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram' - is offered at His Lotus Feet by a humble garland stringer.
Prasanthi Nilayam, Guru Poornima, 27 July 1980, N. Kasturi