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Seshama Raju, the elder brother of Sathyanarayana, married the daughter of Sri Pasupathi Subba Raju of Kamalapur, in Cuddappah District and, since Sathya had to proceed somewhere outside Bukkapatnam for higher education, it was proposed that he might as well go over to Kamalapur. The brother was also with him there for some time and so this arrangement seemed satisfactory to the parents, who agreed. They planned to give Sathya a College education, so that he might become an officer! And, hence they were prepared to part with him and send him to far off Kamalapur, provided his studies could be continued.
Sathya too attended school regularly; he was, in Kamalapur, as at Bukkapatnam, 'a quiet well-behaved boy', the favourite of his teachers. He sang the "Prayer song", before the curtain went up, on the occasion of a drama in the town; and, those who heard his sweet voice, spread the news that a 'fine musician' had come to town. "Prayer Songs" at functions like public meetings became his monopoly thereafter.
Baba speaks even today of Drill Instructor, who commanded the respect of the entire school by his unstinted love for children. He was also the scoutmaster and he was anxious to have Sathya in his troop. So, he started persuading the boy directly and through his friends. There were two boys, children of the Sheristedar, who sat at the same desk and who were very friendly with Sathya. They also pleaded with him and even thrust a nice new pair of scout shirts and knickers into the desk of Sathya, so that he might join. They all knew that Sathya will be the life of the troop and, if he joined it, the elders of the town too would agree to sponsor it. Otherwise, they might mistake it to be 'a group of idlers and do-nothings intent only on hikes and dinners.'
Sathya joined at last, just in time to proceed to the Fair and Cattle show at Pushpagiri, to which the Drill Master planned to take his troop. There was work enough for the boys at Pushpagiri, what with the huge crowds that gather, the children that might get lost, the supply of drinking water to the pilgrims, the supervision of sanitation, and the need to provide first-aid on the spot, at the cattle fair. The camp fee was fixed at ten rupees per boy. Sathya did not have a pie!
He had to demonstrate that Seva is its own reward, that Prema will overpower everything else; he decided that the chance to teach and inspire his companions should not be lost; so he determined to walk to Pushpagiri, thus saving the bus fare. He told the drill instructor that his people were coming for the Fair and that they will look after him. (Of course, the people who come for every Jathra are His people!) And thus, he avoided the camp mess and the charges he had to pay if he had joined it. He calculated that five rupees would be enough to see him through at Pushpagiri; and, He says he gave the set of books of the previous class which he had seldom read and which therefore were as good as new, to a needy boy and took from him, not the twelve rupees he offered, but just the five rupees he required. Then he walked the distance to Pushpagiri, reaching the place about 9 o'clock in the night, the day previous to the Inauguration of the Fair.
He was physically very much tired and with the bag containing his clothes and the money, he slept on the sand of the river, along with the huge concourse that had already gathered there. The next morning, when he woke up, the purse had gone, along with the bag!
While describing these incidents, Baba often tells those around Him that he was not worried at all; but, that he moved about the place quite unconcerned and found, on a stone trough, an Anna coin and a packet of beedies! He took the coin, it seems, and proceeded to the market place. There was a man there, who sat in front of a contraption, promising profit to men with luck! On a circle drawn on a piece of black cloth in white paint, he had some hieroglyphics; he had attached some monetary value to a few figures and no value at all to the rest! He had an iron rod, sticking up from the centre and a movable needle on its top. He asked his customers to place a coin beside him and give the needle a quick turn. If the needle stops on top of section which as a figure like 2,3 or 4, he gives the customer double or treble or four times the stake amount; otherwise, he appropriates it. Sathyanarayana went straight to this man and, turning the needle a number of times, and always with luck in his favour, collected twelve Annas! He says that he could have secured more, but, he sympathised with the poor fellow whose earnings were not much!
Those twelve Annas sufficed him for a week! For, as already mentioned, he had a miraculous power not only of feeding himself (in fact, the happiness of those around Him is His food, as He has so often said) but also proving that he has had a square meal by extending his hand to be smelt. Even in these later years, He sometimes says, "I have taken lunch", and when people doubt it, He allows them to smell His palm and they will have to cast aside their doubts.
So the Scoutmaster was led to believe that Sathyanarayana was being well fed by his relatives at the Fair! He did not make any distinction, therefore, in assigning work, between Sathya and the rest; Sathya entered enthusiastically upon his task of inspiring his classmates to do selfless social service. Even to day this is the central theme of His teaching, service to others being, as He says, service to oneself, for the other is only oneself in another form and under another name!
Needless to say, Sathya quietly slipped out of the camp, when they proposed to take him back by bus for he had not paid his share of the bus fare. He walked back the whole distance, as a matter of principle.
Sathya at Kamalapur was away from parents; even his brother had gone to undergo Training Course and so, whenever he wanted some odd cash, he wrote as He says, songs for the use of a merchant, Kote Subbanna by name! Subbanna had a shop, selling medicines, tonics, glassware, articles of fashionable wear, umbrellas, etc. And whenever he desired to push a new article into the market or boost the sales of some patent drug, he caught Sathya on the road leading to the school and gave him the necessary technical or other information. By evening, Sathya was ready with an attractive Telugu song, praising the stuff in really good poetry, full of swerve and lilt, capable of catching the ear when sung in chorus by the band of urchins, whom Subbanna hired for the purpose. They used to march along the streets, with name-boards in their hands, singing the slogan-filled songs of Sathya and evidently enjoying their task! Even now, Baba regales His Bhakthas, now and then, by the recitation of these old time articles tunes!
Kote Subbanna gave Sathya, in return for these songs which soon danced on every tongue, the clothes, books and other needed by him!
There is a saying current among the older of the devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba; "He manifested Himself at Uravakonda, but spread His Glory from Kamalapur." This statement is a tribute to the quickness with which the people of Kamalapur responded later to the Call without the cynicism of ignorant conceit, and the large number of public receptions and Pujas they organised to "Bala Sai," after His return to Puttaparthi.
Meanwhile, we too must hurry towards Uravakonda, where the next chapter of this Divine Saga is to be enacted. Seshamma Raju completed the training prescribed to qualify him as a teacher of Telugu, and he was posted to the High School at Uravakonda. He welcomed this as good omen, for, he could have Sathya with him and give personal and immediate attention to the progress of his higher studies.