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Any one writing a book about Baba has to be moved by a constant trepidation, for, Baba says, "I do not need any publicity. What are you daring to publicise? What do you know about Me, let Me ask you! You speak one thing about Me today, and another tomorrow! Your faith has not been rendered unshakeable. You praise Me when things go well, you blame Me when things go wrong. You flit from one refuge to another." Yes; I know precious little about the Mystery that is Baba; 20 years of constant adjacency and association have failed to break the veil - through which He is comprehended but dimly. Baba says, "Be sincere; talk only about your genuine experience; do not distort, exaggerate or falsify that experience." I can only try my best to adhere to this direction that He has given us. "If you accept Me and say, Yes, I too respond Yes, Yes, Yes. If you deny Me and say, No, I echo No. Come, experience, and have faith; that is the method of utilising Me." That was the reason why, though He told me in 1948 that I should write His biography, He gave me the green signal only in 1960, when I had "gone, experienced and developed faith", after the thirty years of carping criticism of the antics of social and religious leaders!
The sneer with which I used to write about such leaders was motivated by my dislike of 'miracles', due to my contact with the Ramakrishna Mission. But, Baba says, "Some people remark that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said that the Siddhis or powers acquired during spiritual exercise are 'obstructions' in the path of the Sadhaka. Of course, they are. He may be led astray by Siddhis or powers. He had to keep straight on, without being involved in them. His ego will bloat if he yields to the temptations that these powers dangle before him. This is correct advice that every aspirant must heed.
"But, the mistake lies in equating Me with a Sadhaka or an aspirant, equating the seeker and the Sought! All that I do is fundamental to the nature of an Avathara. Cynics carp without knowledge. If you learn the Sastras you can see things more clearly. Or, you should cultivate direct experience." And, clarifying what He means by an Avathar come to redeem and reveal, He says, "I know the agitations of your hearts, the aspirations, the waves and whirlpools; but, you do not know My heart. I react to the pain you undergo, the joy that you feel. For, I am in every heart. That is the temple where I dwell." However hard the task of writing about Him, however hesitant the pen, the landmarks have to be marked, the outlines limned, as clear as He has let me see them.
On the 13th day of December, 1964, Baba visited Kalahasthi from Venkatagiri, as He said when he passed out into the road through the gates of Rammohanrao at Manjeri, hundreds of miles away! On the 17th, He visited the Vyasa Asram at Yerpedu, near Kalahasthi from where the late Malayala Swami had done yeoman service in spreading the Adwaitha doctrine and its universal message. Baba said, " The Malayala Swami made everyone who came to him and the thousands whom he met, understand the grandeur of the Real behind the unreal. He knew it by study and by Sadhana."
Vimalananda, the monk in charge of this great seat of Sadhana and scholarship was for many months an inmate of Prasanthi Nilayam, before he left for Benares to join the University for higher studies in Sanskrit. While at Prasanthi Nilayam, he composed a garland of verses and placed it in the hands of Baba. When his Guru, the renowned Malayala Swami, revered throughout Andhra Pradesh and many other neighbouring states, passed into immortality, Vimalananda turned to Baba for guidance; he desired that he should be initiated into monastic life by His Divine hands. But, Baba did not wean him away from his Guru; he insisted that he should take on the new status, as indicated by Malayala Swami himself.
The atmosphere of the Asram, redolent with the glory of Vyasa, reminiscent of the ordeals and tribulations of the saint who was adopted as the preceptor by thousands in Andhra Pradesh, ringing with the recitation of Vedic hymns and fragrant with ardent discussions on the meaning and purpose of existence must have induced Baba to reveal some part of His Mission and Message. "My task is not merely to cure, to console, and to remove the misery and pain of individuals. That is but incidental. My main task is the re-establishment of Vedantha and Vedantic way of life in India and the world."
To the students of the Sanskrit school, He said, "Compete with others in the quickness with which you march on the pilgrim road to God. Grow up, self-restrained and disciplined; the country needs such children, not well-read and ill-disciplined citizens who plunge society into disorder."
Baba had a word of appreciation to say, at Penukonda, where He inaugurated the School Day Celebrations, in February, 1965. The students all over the country were drawn into a movement to protest against the policy of Government over the Hindi language and, on the very day the School Day was held, the agitation had reached its acme of irresponsibility, all round the town. But, the students of Penukonda refused to be involved; they concentrated on the Celebrations and won Baba's grace. Baba told them; the debt of love that you owe to your parents who are toiling in the fields in sun and rain to keep you here in comfort, has to be repaid by intense and sincere study. All other debts come only later, even the debt to the mother country and the mother tongue. I find that you are aware of this, that you are keeping calm and collected, while all around you, the storm is blowing wild."
February also saw the Upanayanam of about 450 boys at Prasanthi Nilayam. "They are recruited into My army today." Said Baba. The Upanayanam (being led to the Guru or preceptor for spiritual training) is a great event in the life of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaisya boys. It was a magnificent sight, many bright young lads on the threshold of a new life, "re born" as it were, affirming as their ancestors did on the banks of holy rivers, the validity of Dharma which sustains the Universe. It was inspiring to see them being initiated into the most sacred of Vedic Manthras, the Gayathri. It is a prayer addressed to Light, that pervades the whole of creation, dispelling darkness, ignorance and evil. A sacrament that was fast going out of fashion amidst the glittering gadgets of 'American and English' social life has thus been restored by Baba to its pristine place in the training of these lads.
Sivarathri came soon after. Baba shines forth as Siva, on the sacred day and His discourses have a distinct emphasis on Jnana and the need to earn it. "Jnanam Maheswaraad ichcheth; desire from Maheswara the gift of Jnana," say the Sastras. The Rishis fixed these days in the calendar, for dedication and initiation.
On Sivarathri, the miracle of miracles, the creation of a Linga in His Body and its emergence, takes place. In 1955, about eighteen thousand people watched this unique and solemn process in deep silence and tension; their eyes riveted on the spare resplendent figure on the dais. The tension mounted to a climax, as a shining smooth, transparent Linga emerged from His Mouth, its green sheen almost dazzling the eyes - a symbol of Brahmanda, the Universe over which Siva keeps eternal vigil; it was a symbol of something too infinite, too stupendous, for our little minds to grasp. Its green glory moved us into tears of joy and gratitude. It spoke to us of the beauty and light that reside in everything and being; in the star-studded sky and the human heart.
For two weeks after Sivarathri, Baba was busy with the award of Grace to the sick, the old, and the handicapped who had come, as well as to many whom He recognised as needing His immediate attention, for physical, mental or spiritual overhaul. Thereafter, he left for Kakinada, in the Godavari Delta, where the devotees attached to His previous Body that sanctified Shirdi, had built a temple, which He was to inaugurate. The gathering at Kakinada was frightfully large; the streets were packed tight and the roofs spilled over with eager throngs. The organisers were alarmed, since the houses were not built to carry such heavy burdens on their roofs, but, Baba assured them that nothing would happen. He just glanced round, saying, "This is enough to ensure the safety of every man, woman and child." During His Discourse, Baba said, "You need not build a temple for every new Name, with which you call upon God or every new Form which you feel He has assumed. You can call upon Him anywhere at all times. The ancient temples have been saturated with the piety and prayers of generations of genuine Bhakthas; it would be wrong to deny yourselves the capital that has thus accumulated."
From Kakinada, Baba drove to a small village named Sampara, about 20 miles away. Though more than 750 miles from Prasanthi Nilayam, this village was a lovely garden blooming with devotion for Baba. For a number of years, groups of 50, 70, or even 100 men and women had been coming on pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam and staying on for weeks to soak themselves in faith and discipline. Every house in the village, every homestead, was a clean fragrant Prasanthi Nilayam, with the Pranava recitation, the Bhajana sessions, the Namasmarana as the 'duties', round which daily life revolved. No wonder it was flags and festoons all the way. The villagers arranged every year the exposition of the Bhagavatha, a course, which lasted for months at a time, and so, they saw, in the Master that was coming to them, the Lord whose Flute filled the Universe with sweet melody.
It was an inspiring commentary on the Bhagavatha that we saw as we accompanied Baba to Sampara. We could see in the faces of the simple rural folk who raced from furrowed fields, across canals and fences, towards the car of Baba, the ardour that filled the hearts of the cowherds of Brindavan. As we neared the village, the pages of the Bhagavatha became more legible. Toddlers, boys and girls, maids and mothers, stalwart youth and tottering age - they beamed in unspeakable joy. They never imagined that the Lord would so readily respond to their prayers and actually come along the dusty roads and cow-dung smelling lanes, right up to the village-hall! Baba was all love and grace, to those sacred souls. When he found some one racing along to catch a glimpse, He asked that the car be slowed, so that he can have the coveted Darsan; when a group riding to the village on a bullock-cart was overtaken by the car, he halted a little, so that the occupants could alight and slake their thirst. He stopped when He saw ryots, bent with age, trudging along to the village to fill their eyes with Him, and gave them fruit so that they could return home without trudging any further. There was an old villager who was driving a few sheep into Sampara; Baba asked the car to slow down so that he could have Darsan; He wanted the horn to be sounded, so that he could turn around! But, no. He was deaf to the call of Grace. Baba said, "Poor fellow, Next time, next time..." and the car gathered speed.
The village was drunk with holy joy. Baba told the gathering: "You have been yearning for My coming among you for six long years; therefore, have I come now, to cool your hearts and give you joy." He warned them against the temptation of the noise and glare of towns and cities. "There man has become quarrelsome, greedy and cruel. The towns standardise the speech, the habits and the attitudes of man into a vulgar pattern. There man is an animal which is petted and humoured to turn wild. The Divinity of man is ignored in the rush and worry, in the struggle for possessions and pomp. Learn to be content and happy where you are. Do not run towards towns hoping to have happiness and contentment there. They are inner riches, not outer acquisitions".
Baba has given this advice to every village He has gone into. At Sathyavada, which He visited later during this tour, He said, "Humility and reverence are fast disappearing in the towns; uppishness and irreverence are rampant. The fear of sin has faded; the city-dweller has no faith left in God or his brother. But, these virtues - humility, reverence, dread of sin, faith in the victory of truth and the efficacy of virtue, in the existence of an ever-present witness - these are still alive in the villages."
From Kakinada, Baba proceeded to Pithapuram, where a huge gathering had collected amidst the ruins of a historic fort. "These bastions and turrets were once the symbols of power and pride; now they are grim reminders of the fraility and fickleness of fortune", Baba said. "These pathetic walls teach you that Time is the greatest conqueror", He told the people. Yelamanchili, a village on the borders of the Visakhapatnam District was the next place which received Baba's Grace. Fifty thousand persons had gathered there to see and listen, and carry home the precious acquisition. "I do not accept from you flowers that fade, fruit that rots, coins that have no currency beyond the boundary; give Me the Lotus that blooms in your Manasa-sarovara, in the pure pellucid waters of your inner consciousness; give Me the fruit of your holiness and steady discipline", He asked.
Then Baba entered the Delta of the Godavari River, the Kona Sima as it is called, the region, which Baba says, is, "the home of traditional scholarship in the Vedas and Sastras, the nursery of learned and versatile Pundits, in all branches of the ancient learning".
Naturally, His Discourses at Amalapuram, the centre of the Deltaic area, were addressed to the repositories of ancient culture and the guardians of Vedic learning.
About three hundred thousand people filled the town of Amalapuram, when Baba was there; by car and boat, by bus and cart, on cycles and on foot, they trekked to have His Darshan and to listen to the message of strength and joy. Baba gave Darshan, whenever the gathering on the roads before His residence grew too large; He addressed the gathering for ten to fifteen minutes, every hour or so, in order to reduce the pressure on the meagre resources of the town to cater to non-residents! In spite of this, the evening meetings were huge mammoth affairs. Baba said, "You have come in hundreds of thousands from all the villages and towns from miles around, spending time and money and undergoing great exertion. Take back this lesson from here, retain at least this much out of the hours of listening that you do: Attachment causes grief and detachment gives joy."
He said that the Pundits have the key to open the treasure of detachment. "Fortunately, there are some Pundits, in this region, who preserve faith in that key and who are serene in the face of loss or gain, fame or calumny. They are not news and so, you will find no reference to them in the papers. No one worries about them; they do not worry anyone. People know more about film-stars now, than about the sages and saints in their midst."
Baba is moved by the Love that streams out towards Him from the Lakhs and Lakhs of beaming faces that are filled with indescribable joy when He grants Darsan. He often says, "I do not like to interrupt this transfer of Ananda, from you to Me and Me to you, by starting a Discourse. It seems as if this is ample recompense for all the trouble and yearning." At Amalapuram, He told the people, "I can understand the depth of your Love; you have denied yourself food, sleep and rest, struggling for a place to squat, a cup of water to drink, a patch in the shade. You have moved en masse from your villages, like ants from anthills, issuing out for sunshine, for sugar. You have the hunger for God, the thirst for spiritual light."
From Amalapuram, Baba proceeded to Rajahmundry; near where the genius of Sir Henry Cotton devised an anicut across the Godavari river, to curb the raging flood and fertilise the vast deltaic region. This was about a century ago; the inhabitants of the Delta are so grateful to Sir Henry for his engineering skill and foresight that they revere the anicut site as a holy place, where a bath in the sacred spot is felt as sacrosanct as at a site sanctified by a Vedic saint! Rajahmundry or Rajamahendravaram, as it is known to the natives, is a place full of historic memories, cultural relics, and religious festivals. Baba reached the town in time for the valedictory offering of a three day Yajna performed by devotees in the temple of Visweswara, the Lord of the Universe. Baba casually moved round the corridors of the temple; He peeped into the shrine of the Consort, the Sakthi, personified Grace, Annapoorna, the Granter of Anna or Sustenance to the Universe. He saw the stone idol and said, "O, She feeds the entire community of living beings, but she herself is poor, she has no nose-ring!" With these words, He waved His hand and, lo, a big bright diamond nose-ring had formed itself in that Hand; it was clipped on the nose!
He gave the performers of the Yajna confidence and courage by showing them that good deeds, done in a dedicatory spirit always yield fruit. The final offering of sacred objects in the sacrificial fire was accompanied by a downpour of unexpected rain! "The rain that fell this morning and surprised everyone did not surprise Me, for it is the inevitable consequence of the Yaga. It is a special science, which these Pundits know. You laugh at a sculptor chipping flakes off a piece of rock! You call it waste of precious stone and precious time, for, you do not know that when he finishes chipping, a beautiful statue will emerge. You suffer from short sight and from ignorance".
Baba gives the Amritha He creates to everyone present; differences in economic status, scholarly attainments, or caste affiliations disappear before the light of His Grace. All are His children. In His discourses, He gives the Amritha of Upanishadic teachings to all who have ears to listen, in sweet simple story style. "Some of you may ask, why tell such great truths to these vast gatherings, truths that have to be whispered in the ears of ardent seekers only? How do you know there are not many such here? I know there are many. They will treasure the truth, ruminate over it, and use it when the need is acute. They will then say, 'Ah, Baba told us this at Rajahmundry' and derive strength therefrom. Nothing that is experienced will go to waste. It will shape the course of events, it will change attitudes and habits, it will clarify and purify situations."
There was a father and son, who listened. The son was an ardent seeker; he saw, he heard; he imbibed. When he returned home, he had no thought other than of God; He dedicated all his conscious moments to God. The father too was proud of the son. He was happy that his son had been confirmed in the Godly path. He too was so firmly established in Sadhana that, when his son died a few months later in perfect bliss with the name and form of Baba on his tongue and in his eye, the father wrote to Baba,"My son had a happy end; he had no other aspiration than to merge in God. I am glad this son of mine had such a life and such an enviable end". The word had clarified and purified two listeners at Rajahmundry. Who knows but He, which field is ready for the seed!
Baba told the vast gathering at Rajahmundry that the leaders of the country had to plan, not only for prosperity but also for counteracting the calamity of prosperity. In the West where nations have the highest standard of living, and the means of material comfort are within the reach of all, anxiety and moral anarchy are affecting the social fabric. The individual is torn by frustration and fear; insanity and suicide are increasing; flippancy, misdemeanour and irreverence are rampant. "Man is deluded into believing that he is bent by blasts of grief and joy. But, he is immortal by nature; beyond the atmosphere of agony and joy, of the twin pulls of likes and dislikes."
At the Hindu Samaj, Rajahmundry, Baba presided over a gathering called together to honour three renowned pundits, who were the members of the Central Committee of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha. "Become aware of your illness; then, long for the cure; see the physician; take in the medicine; follow the regimen he prescribes. That is the only way to be healthy again. These Pundits and men like them have a knowledge of the cure that will make you free," He said.
Baba visited Kadali and Razole village in the Delta and then, proceeded to the village of Sathyavada, to which the yearning of rural hearts drew Him. The village houses have thick and high mud walls around them and so, Baba could not grant Darsan to the thousands who filled the narrow serpentine lanes. Sensing the anguish of the crowds outside the wall, Baba had a ladder brought, a narrow bamboo contraption with eight horizontal rods as steps; He climbed it, to reach the precarious foothold on the crest of the wall. He stood there, silhouetted against the sky, in the hot sun, to confer the coveted Darsan to the people. I have seen Him ascend the parapet walls of storied bungalows and the top of His own car, in order to afford Darsan to the milling crowds and to calm their ardour. In Bombay, He has walked along the parapet of the Gwalior Palace; in Kurnool He has stood on the narrow slab on the top of an arch, in Budili He has stood on a chair placed on a bullock-cart; in Trivandrum He stood on the roof of a Fiat car in the hot sun so that more people may see Him and be satisfied. But, this quick climb along the bamboo-ladder placed against the mud wall, this stately stand on the mud wall will shine in my memory as a golden reminder of His Grace!
And the discourse that the sea of faces drew forth from Baba, O! it was a stream of nectar. "You wake with the cockcrow, you sleep when the birds fold their wings. You toil in the sun, soak in the rain, trudge in the slush, handle dung and dirt, - to provide food and raiment to your kith and kin and even for those who scorn you and slight you, who profit by your ignorance of the fashions of the world. But, is this all? Does this complete the whole duty of man? Is this the aim of all the aeons of struggle that won for you this human frame? Do not let the fertile field lie fallow, infested with thorns and weeds. Plough the heart with virtuous deeds. Irrigate it with the stream of Prema, sow the seeds of the Name of the Lord, pull out the weeds of greed, watch the crop grow, enclose it with the fence of discipline, and be happy when the flower of Dhyana blooms, and the grain of Ananda is harvested."
From Sathyavada, Baba drove to Repalle, at the temple He consecrated the marble idol of His Previous Body. The vast masses of pilgrims in His Presence were calmed to perfect silence at His very Darsan. It is a phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed. And, Baba too spoke on "Silence". The crocodile is happy and unharmed, it is undefeatable, in the depths of the lake or river. Once it sprawls on land, it becomes the target of death, the plaything of man. The depths! - they are your refuge, the source of your strength. Do not stray into the shallows or the sands. In the depths, you have the Silence, where you can converse with God."
Soon after Baba returned to Prasanthi Nilayam. Baba was at Bombay. It was on the sixth day of June that He reached that City - His second visit. "O! really, He was in Bombay! I have no words to describe the occasion" writes Hon'ble Sri P.K. Savant, Home Minister to the Government of Maharashtra and for many years, Chairman, Shirdi Sai Baba Samasthanam. A magnificently organised meeting was held in the Shanmukhananda Hall in Matunga the next day. "It was a sight for gods", writes Sri Savant. "It was the proudest day in my life", he says. On the same day, Baba inaugurated the Maharashtra Branch of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha. Baba said that the present crisis in human history can be averted by propagating the eternal values for which this country has stood for generations. Next day, a meeting of the Committee of the Mahasabha was held; when one of the members read a poem of his, named, Navarathnamala, the Garland of Nine Gems, Baba talked on gems, false and genuine, and among the gems, on the diamond. He said that when the mind dies and all agitations are stilled, one becomes a better gem called 'Diemind'! That evening Baba addressed another mammoth gathering at the Andhra Maha Sabha, where He laid emphasis on the fundamentals of integrated life. Baba met the heads of many religious sects and faiths, and discussed with them ways and means of deepening the springs of faith.
Baba returned to Bangalore by car, with a few hours halt at Pandharpur, the holy place consecrated by Panduranga. He Himself had taught comrades of His childhood days the Pandari Bhajan. Bhajan songs on the Panduranga manifestation of the Lord, on Rukmabai, His Consort, on the Chandrabhaga river that is sanctified by association with the place, on the arduous journey on foot that the pilgrim has to undergo, on the hunger and thirst which he has to put up with for days, at the first glimpse of the temple steeple, the thrill one gets when he crosses the sacred threshold - were written by Him and taught to the children of Puttaparthi. Many of these He sings even today, when His devotees pray; many have become regular features in the repertory of Bhajan parties in surrounding villages. Baba entered the temple and took His devotees around - an act of Grace that He has done so often in the past, as human manifestations. Panduranga! He placed a wedding jewel of gold a Mangalasutra created on the spot in His palm, around the neck of Rukmabai.
For those who have the unique good fortune of travelling with Baba in His car, it is sweetness, sweetness, all the way, all the time! They can witness the flow of Prema in every act and word of His. A cowherd tending cattle on the hills will be called near and given fruits; a blind beggar will get a fiver with a warning not to mislay it or mistake it as just paper. A woman on the way to the weekly market tottering under the weight of the load on her head will get sweets and money; the blind, the aged, the maimed, the kids, the enceinte mother, the boy with bravado - all will receive a token of His Grace. Baba is never too busy to leave the little ones of the earth unnoticed.
For those in His car, the journey is sweeter still. Baba sings Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English songs. He prods and teases with questions, in order to teach and remove lurking doubts. We see in Him the very embodiment of Ananda, fresh as a flower whatever the hour, the very intimate friend, the very erudite scholar, the very picture of charm. Quite suddenly, His Grace may take the form of a miracle! Once while returning from Hyderabad, the car was stopped near the bridge over the Krishna, because some of us prayed that He should give us sweets, from out of His Hand, created specially for us. He had the car stopped; He asked us to pick a stone and give it into His hands; we did not know why? A piece of road metal from a nearby heap, piled for repairing that bit of road, was given. He said, "Bring a flat piece of stone. How can you break this one into pieces with your fingers?" He asked, throwing that into the distance. We wondered why He should be concerned with breaking a stone into pieces! A flat thin piece of stone was, however, brought and given. He held it in His hand and gave it back; it became a flat thin piece of sugar-candy! We could easily break it into pieces with our fingers and eat it.
Navarathri or Dasara is the Festival for the worship of the Primal Urge that disturbed the beginningless equilibrium and caused all this Divine Delusion called Creation. The Jagath or Universe is a vast agitation, trying to regain the equanimity that was then lost. Once that equanimity is attained, the ideas of past, present and future, of manifoldness, of gain and loss, of pleasant and unpleasant, will disappear. The three qualities of Sathwa, Rajas and Thamas, the calm, the active and the dull, affect the Consciousness and so, we have the three forms, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswathi, which are worshipped for three days each during this Festival. With their Grace, we can gain equanimity.
Baba introduced the Festival of 1965 with the words "Dasara celebrates the victory of the forces of righteousness over the forces of evil. They were able to win, because Parasakthi, the dynamic aspect of Divinity, the power that has elaborated God into all this manifoldness, all this variety and all this beauty, came to their succour and lent Her strength!" Then, referring to the invasion of India by Pakistan which had just concluded in a ceasefire arranged by the U.N.O., He said, "This country had to meet unrighteous forces and Parasakthi has saved it from dishonour and defeat." Baba spoke of the agitation that affected many on account of the war on the borders and the fear that Dasara might be cancelled by Baba, as was done at Mysore and elsewhere. "In spite of obstacles", Baba said, referring to the last minute somersaults of national representatives at the UN headquarters and the precarious chances that peace had until the very last minute, "In spite of obstacles, the fighting has stopped. Peace is restored". And Baba added, "This is another instance of the Grace which Prasanthi Nilayam showers. This is the way Mahima works!... It was the Will of the Lord that titled the balance in time!
On the first day of Dasara, the Sathya Sai Hospital celebrates its Annual Day and Baba discourses on the physical and mental bases of health. These deal with the psychosomatic and even deeper causes of illness and are valuable lessons for medical practitioners. In 1965, for example, He spoke of ill health being a social product, for the sick and the suffering are limbs of the selfsame corporate body. He advised against the ascetic view of the body. "Disgust is not desirable towards anything in creation. Everything is God's handiwork, an example of His Glory, a glimpse of His majesty." He recommended proper attention to the body, as an instrument for securing liberation; He is against coddling and over-fondling. "When you believe that you are the body" the body will demand from you more food, more variety in food, more attention to outward appearance, more care for comfort. A large portion of the food now consumed is superfluous and positively harmful. Man can live happily on much less, and more healthily." Baba advised against the modern instruments of popular education, which infect people with discontent, despair and distress. "People are getting anxious and afraid of things they do not understand.
They can neither avoid them nor correct them! The radio, the newspaper, the cinema - all scare people into panic, about health, the standards of living, social security and national safety. Every hour of listening or reading is an extra dose of anxiety." Pleasure has become the universal port of destination and so, there is great deal of frustration and repression. People live and die, without recognising the loss; society is frightened at its own shadow, its hidden discontent, its suppressed turmoil. Fear is the biggest cause of illness. So, Baba tries to restore faith, so that fear may fade. "Transfer your faith from pills to Providence; put your trust in Madhava, not in medicines; resort to prayers, Sadhana, Japam, Dhyanam and not injections. They are the vitamins you need. No tablet is as efficacious as Ramanam. Accept the Ananda way, the Sadhana way, to peace and happiness and health". That is the Call of the Voice Divine.
The Bombay Sathya Sai Seva Samithi brought to the Prasanthi Nilayam a pictorial exhibition, they had prepared with the help of artists of high repute, depicting the teachings of Baba; this was inaugurated by Baba and thereafter it was seen and appreciated by thousands. It was liked so much that the van which carried it had to tour for three months all over peninsular India and even beyond, to bring inspiration and instruction to about three Lakhs of people.
Baba took under the wings of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha - an institution that was rendering yeoman service to feed the roots of devotion among the people - the Sanathana Bhagavatha Bhaktha Samaj - consisting of scholars, musicians, poets, expounders of scriptures, reciters of epics, storytellers, minstrels, all of a high order of skill and efficiency. They go in groups for three or four days at a stretch to a place; through songs and music and speeches they stir the place into a new awareness of their spiritual heritage. No one who takes in vitamin G (God) can escape His Grace.
Every Dasara now, Baba arranges a Sapthaha Yajna, which respects the Vedic injunction and the Vedic spirit of the Universality of the Godhead - in full view of the thousands of devoted aspirants, sun worship, image worship, fire consecration, the contemplation of the Formless and the recitation of the glories of the various manifestations of God with Name and Form are carried on. At the crucial moment of the Final Offering of all ceremonially sacred articles in the rising flames the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. Pattom Thanu Pillai was present. Later, he opened the Santhi Vedika (an eight pillared Mantap in classical style with frescoes of the Githopadesh scene and of a scene from the Ramayana, and of the Sivalinga and the Pranava) from where Baba discourses to the vast sea of heads on special occasion.
The Governor presided over another function where Baba requested him to honour four outstanding scholars of Andhra Pradesh, members of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha, with golden bracelets worn on the arm as marks of undisputed superiority in Sastraic learning. His Excellency said, "To be honoured at this centre of spirituality which influences all the states of India and even countries in other continents, this is a great inspiration!" The next day was the Poets' Day when poems in Sanskrit, Telugu, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada and English were read before Him. Of course, Baba had every valuable advice to give them, "The poet is able to discover more than the mere thinker. He recognises and knows the next step and the next... in fact, he is aware of the goal. The Kavi or Poet is divine, in the estimation of India. So, he has tremendous responsibility. He is Anusasithara, - he who lays down the law, and the norms. He should not trail behind the whims of the mob in search of cheap fame or counterfeit prosperity. He must fertilise and canalise the divine urge in man. Poems that deal with the basic problems of life and death, of freedom and destiny, of truth and delusion, of virtue and temptation, of ascent and descent, of aspiration and achievement - these will last for ages provided something deep in man, deeper than the senses or reason or passion is the inspiration, the source of illumination. Man's struggle to discover the Creator in creation, will arouse genuine enthusiasm." Baba spoke against flimsy foppish poetry, fiery fuming verses, meaningless lilts and jumbles. "Do not infect others with your superstitions and perplexities." Thus, Dasara was rendered into a Seminar on Spiritual Study in an Institute of Spiritual Rehabilitation.
Soon after, Baba went to Hindupur, a town about 40 miles away, which He had visited last only as a young boy, with His Pandaribhajan group of comrades. He said that people who do not approach fire can never know its warmth. He playfully blamed the citizens for being content so long, with the light emanating from the fire. Baba hoisted the National Flag in the Municipal High School Stadium at 8 a.m., for it was the Diamond Jubilee of the School. He was then taken in procession through the streets of the town in an open jeep. While devotees felt that He was in the scorching sun far too long, Baba expressed His joy that the jeep wended its way through all the roads and by-lanes of the town; "How else could the sick, the weak, the lame, the old, get My Darsan?", He asked. He found time during the hot hours of the day to address the Rotary Club of Hindupur, the Club which thus won the honour of being the first recipient of that Grace. Baba's address was an eye opener to many a social worker and enthusiast for international understanding. "Living in this ancient land suffused with a culture based on detachment and sacrifice, where everyone is revered as reflections of Oneself, who is himself a reflection of the Ultimate Absolute, Rotarians will find that their ideals are native to the people here. The query, "Who belongs to whom? Am I my brother's keeper", is alien to Indian thought. Here, each is all and all is One, namely, He or IT, or THAT. This has been the daily diet of India since the beginning of time", Baba told them.
He spoke also to the students of the college, asking them to learn the principles of Sanathana Dharma, "whether you have it in the curriculum or not. Practise at least the first steps in Sadhana, silence, meditation, sweet soft speech, control of the senses, recitation of the Name of God, reading of the scriptures and social service. Avoid wasteful debilitating recreation; maintain your health intact by sane habits; become worthy sons and daughters of the motherland". Baba considers that the system of education now being worked out in the schools is harmful to the best interest of the children and the community. "More information is forced in; less inspiration to seek it is imparted! Skills are added; virtues are subtracted! Respect for the sacred texts, sages and holy places have diminished and as a consequence respect for the land that produced them has also declined."
The Birthday of Baba was an occasion for the offering of grateful homage by tens of thousands and the gift of Grace by Baba to each one of them. "Do not try to get Grace by offering Me flowers that fade, fruits that rot, leaves that dry and water that evaporates. Give something Divine if you want the Divine. Sathya Dharma Santhi Prema - these are Divine," He reiterated. Baba conferred the joy of anointing Him on that sacred day on a few old couples chosen from Mysore, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Madras. Among them, there was a couple where the husband was blind, and another where the wife was blind. The ecstasy of the blind can well be left to imagination.
Referring to the eclipse of the sun which happened that day, Baba said, "Many people wrote to inquire whether the Festival is postponed on account of this." But, Baba said, "Do not worry when something happens in the outer skies! Worry when the shadow of some foul passion, some dark desire, some evil greed, some monstrous thought, casts its ominous gloom on your Mind! That is the inauspicious eclipse you have to avoid," He said.
Baba does not appreciate the celebration of what is called His Birthday; He is anxious that we should celebrate rather the day He is born in each of us or, to put it more clearly, the day when we recognise that He is the inner core of each of us. So the Birthday Celebrations are used by Him only to reveal the unknowable depth of His Mystery to those who preen themselves on having plumbed it!