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Charles Penn writes from Los Angeles, "Across the oceans, Baba reaches to each one of us, time after time. He blesses; He leads. He gives strength to those needing support. He smiles His acknowledgement by a whispered "God bless..." and beckons those He wants to guide to Prasanthi Nilayam. He teaches us that Life is endless, not punctuated by nights, days, months and years - for all are one, in the eternal stream."
This was the lesson Baba gave to the gathering at Prasanthi Nilayam also on the Uttarayana Day. January 14th, 1966. Festivals based on the calendar, solar or lunar, celebrating the apparent change of movement or direction of the Sun or the Moon have been devised, He said, in order to emphasise the need for mind-control (the Moon is the presiding deity of the Mind) and intelligence-regulation (the Sun is the presiding deity of intelligence). Placing disproportionate faith in material wealth and objective pleasures, man has lost the art of tapping the resources of joy within himself, within his own mind and intelligence. One need not wait for Uttarayana to arrive, for resolving upon the process of mind-control and intelligence-sublimation. Every moment is the right moment - that is Baba's Message. His is the urgent, the insistent call for wakefulness, for action, for gaining the joy of spiritual progress, without delay or diminution.
He thrills our hearts with this Message as no one else can; for, who else can say, as He does: "The kinship between Me and you is ageless; it is eternal. It is not based on worldly relationships; it is based on the aspiration of the heart for the very source and spring of inexhaustible Joy. I see you all, as waves of the sea, when the Moon rises in the sky. I see Ananda shining on your faces. The love you have for the Source of Love is the real root of that Ananda."
Every year, since 1940 when He announced that He was Sai Baba 'come again', the emergence of one Linga (or many) from His Body through His mouth has taken place during the Lingodbhava Muhurtha (the auspicious moment for the exterior manifestation of the symbol of the all-pervasive Divine Principle). This is an inscrutable mystery; how the Lingas of various types of stone or metal are formed within Him and how they emerge at that particular moment, every year, calculated according to the ancient texts of Jyothishastra! Nine Lingas of 'silver' have come out one year; in other years, there have emerged five or seven or three or two, all in a lump or in succession. Until that illustrious moment, no one can pronounce on the number, size, or composition of the Lingas, that are undergoing concretisation in Him. It is all so normal, until the Lingodbhava Muhurtha arrives.
The gathering of 20 or 25 thousand sits expectant and worshipful listening to the discourses by Pundits on some scriptural text or spiritual discipline. The talks are mostly on Siva, the Aspect of the Godhead that destroys the basic ignorance, that awards enlightenment, overwhelms the accumulated consequences of the past, and wipes off all traces of one's animal ancestry, in order to cleanse the mighty stream, called the mind. When the Pundits have finished, Baba takes up the trend and sweetens the programme with one of His inimitable discourses. At some point during that discourse or at the end of it, during the Bhajan sessions which Baba leads with a few songs, people become aware of the slight cough which, as many of them know, is the harbinger of the precious Linga. The empyrean eloquence is interrupted off an on, by gasps until the internal thrust can no longer be checked. Then, amidst the paean of Praise, Om Namah Sivaya, rising from many thousands of tongues the Lingas travel to the mouth and fall on to a silver plate. Baba invariably holds them aloft for all to see and revere; they are kept for our view the whole night. In the morning, Baba takes them in His Palm and passes along the serried ranks of Bhakthas who are stunned by the size which could not, without a miracle, pass through the tiny passage of the throat.
In 1966, after about 20 minutes of swaying and heaving, gasping and coughing, in order to ease the passage, an emerald Linga, three inches high, fixed on a pedestal five inches across, that had formed itself in Him emerged from His mouth, to the unspeakable joy and relief of the huge gathering, which was watching His face with single-pointed attention. Thousands were exhilarated by this Divine event, which took place in the newly built, magnificently lit, Santhi Vedika. The entire night was spent by the gathering in Bhajan. Baba appeared again at the Santhi Vedika at dawn the next day, when the Bhajan was closing. He reminded the people, on the meaning of the vigil and the paean, the lesson of sense-control, of mind-control, and the elimination of the ego through rigorous discipline. Then He moved along the lines of pilgrims with the unique illustration of His Glory, so that their eyes could feast on it.
In the last week of February, 1966, Baba presided over the School Day Celebrations of the Zilla Parishad High School, Bukkapatnam, which grew into a High School because of His Blessings, since He had given it the privilege of calling Him an 'old boy'. In grateful acknowledgement of His fostering care, the school is named, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba High School. Baba exhorted the parents to hold forth for emulation by the children, good examples of virtue and humility, and service of fellowmen. On the 2nd day of March, He was at Hyderabad, for a three day Session of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha. About 50 to 60 thousand people listened eagerly each day to the discourses of scholars like Prof. V.K. Gokak and Sri D. Venkatavadhani, and to the alchemic addresses of Bhagavan Himself.
Baba is by far the most moving speaker in the world today, for, He keeps hundreds of thousands listening for hours in rapt attention to the highest philosophical truths, which He analyses and presents in sweetest rhetoric; each one feels that the speech is directed at him, in order to help him out of the intellectual or moral tangle into which he has been drawn by circumstances; each one rises with a lessened load, happy and strong, for having had the experience of listening to that melodious voice which opens the gates of heaven to the poorest in spirit as well as the richest. No wonder Prof. Gokak was inspired to sing in verse:
Have you seen Baba
Baba made it clear that the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha was designed by Him to remind men of the road they have missed and the paltry track of pitfalls into which they have strayed. The patient has now no respect for the doctor who alone can cure him or the drug which alone can give relief. Imitative condemnation and superficial cynicism are destroying the faith of the children of the land in their own invaluable culture; they are becoming victims of alien attitudes and fashions of dress, behaviour and mental outlook. The Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha will pave the way to peace, though not to the achievement of competitive glory.
Baba reached Bombay, on His third visit to the City, on the 13th day of March, 1966. As Baba has said, "Maharashtra is a holy land, where the stream of Bhakthi has fertilised social, political, and philosophical fields for ages. Ramdas, Tukaram, Jnaneswar and many others have filled the hearts of the people with reverence for God and love for man; this was also the field of activity, the centre from which radiated the grandeur, of the Sai Form of this present Sathya Sai. "Do not doubt that Maharashtra will soon be a centre of Dharmic Revival". During the fortnight that He stayed in Bombay, Baba established Himself in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, through His simplicity and sweetness. As Dr. Gokak has described it, He becomes noiselessly and naturally the patriarch of each family.
That gathers around His knee
His speech with even casual visitors becomes a pat on the back, often a prick to the bubble, a stab to the ego, a candle in the darkness, a stick to the lame, a path in the wilderness, a rose amidst the thorns, a beacon that beckons to nobility and divinity. A smile from Him is a cherished treasure that one would nourish in the silence of the shrine. The stories and similes with which He illumines philosophical conundrums are valued possessions forever. People clamour for the chance to touch His Feet, to have their children named, or initiated into spiritual disciplines according to scriptural rules by Him, to receive some token of His Grace, and to lay before Him, their mental and physical illness so that He may render them whole. His Grace grants 'colour to the painter, notes to the composer, voice to the singer, strength to the athlete, endurance to the climber, and bliss to the Yogis'. So, all roads led to Gwalior Palace, Worli beach, for full two weeks in Bombay, for Baba gave Darsan in the morning and the evening, everyday, there, during Bhajan Sessions.
Bhajan! Baba has given, like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu centuries ago, an extraordinary impetus to the congregational singing of the praise of God. He declares that when one breathes in the atmosphere rendered fragrant with the name of God, all egoistic impulses are eliminated. He has emphasised that when the name is sung, the way in which the name originated, the halo which it carries, the nuances of its meaning have also to be recalled to memory. It is not just gymnastics for the tongue; it is gymnastics for the mind, anaemic, malformed and maimed, in order to strengthen it with the tonic of the tone of Heaven, correct it with the pressurised message of beat and tal, and cure it with the drug of divine joy that association with good men bring. The sweetness of the human voice is never more apparent than when it is used to sing the majesty of God; the highest bliss is won when one merges, with thousands of others, in the flood of Ananda, which the Darsan of Sathya Sai Baba, moving among the thirsty, the pining, the sick, the distressed and the divinely oriented, confers.
As Dr. K. Bhaskaran Nair writes, "the deafness of our soul is cured and the heavenly harmony is again audible to the ear of faith. The humblest life is lifted to the skies and acquires the aura of eternity. Man is enabled to find sense in this chaos of experience, and discover the meaning and measure of this incomprehensive flux of successive 'flourishing and perishing' which we call Time."
As Hon'ble Sri P. K. Savant, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Maharashtra and erstwhile Chairman of Shirdi Samasthan said, "Bhagavan is the Avathar of Sai Baba of Shirdi, to whom millions look for strength and solace. Baba belongs to Maharashtra in a special sense, though has come for all humanity." The Bhajan Sessions provided splendid chances for Sai devotees to serve the people of Bombay. Hundreds of trained volunteers served visitors with humility and loving regard; Baba selected from the gathering, children and old persons who were ill beyond repair by medical skill and, calling them aside after the Bhajan, diagnosed and dealt with them, with Divine Love to bless them with relief and health.
Baba addressed mammoth gatherings, the like of which even Bombay has seldom seen in its long history, at the Sardar Vallabhai Stadium, on the 16th, 17th and on the 23rd March. The last meeting was on Gudi Padua Day, the Festival of the New Year in Maharashtra and Lakhs of people directed their steps to the stadium to have His Darsan and to hear His Voice, as their inaugural experience for the coming twelve-month-period of their lives. Baba too gave them a Message that, as Sri Page, the Chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council said, could "sweeten and lighten" the burden of life. Baba said, "Man is tossed about by every wind and wave; he has weakened his will and warped his vision. So, he drifts into shoals and whirlpools. He is the child of immortality, heir to Divinity - destined to be the master of the mind and its waywardness - the crown of creation. He is not a monkey that has taken but a few steps towards civilisation. Realise the God that is immanent in the Universe, that is calling out for recognition from every flower, every dewdrop, every star that twinkles in the sky; realise Him as the source of the Ananda that you project on the objects around you, so that you may enjoy them. That realisation will clothe the world, and you, in a new and glorious vesture; it will make you unafraid; it will render death a pleasant passage to birthlessness."
Baba found time, while in Bombay, to discuss with the members of the Maharashtra Branch of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha as well as other seekers and aspirants, personal, and philosophical problems. He stepped into the hearts of all who sought solace and sustenance.
Baba left Bombay on the 26th March, for Poona, where the city had arranged a grand welcome for Him. On the 27th, He addressed a gathering in the premises of Andhra Association. " There are thousands before Me here, listening to My words, but, fundamentally, you are alone; you are a thousand waves on the face of the Ocean. Food is earned by the combined efforts of all the limbs and skills of the body. It is converted by the stomach into sustenance and strength, and given back in that form to all the limbs that helped to produce it. You are all limbs of that One body, the Purusha, who is far more expansive than this Universe, which is but a fraction of His physical manifestation." He spoke about the attempts to limit oneself by name and form, as belonging to this nation or that, speaking one language or another and building a cage around oneself. Referring to the remark made by someone, while welcoming Him, that it was a 'family gathering', Baba said, "Yes; this is a family gathering. As a matter of fact, all gatherings into which I come are family gatherings for Me, the entire mankind is My family. I carry no labels assigning a country of origin or residence for Myself. I am above all labels."
Baba reached Gulbarga, in the State of Mysore, late at night on the 28th, and by sunrise He saw sitting in long lines all over the vast Maidan, people from far and near eager to carry away in their hearts the picture of His smiling Face. Baba moved among them and distributed Vibhuthi to one and all. Later, at the Public Garden where another mammoth gathering awaited His Presence, Baba sang a few Bhajans and gave the Gulbargians a taste of the sweetness of His Heavenly Voice. Baba reached Hyderabad, in time to give Darsan to devotees on the Day dedicated to the Advent of Sri Rama. That day is sacred to devotees for another reason too, for, it was on that day that Baba gave the world, the Institution round which has crystallised the faith and hope of the custodians of the Vedic culture of India, namely, Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha. Therefore, the Hyderabad Branch of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha inaugurated on Sri Rama's Birthday monthly discourses on the ancient but timeless texts of spiritual discipline. Baba returned to Prasanthi Nilayam on the 4th day of April, after assuring Lakhs of people that Divinity has not given up Humanity, but, has only to be discovered within man himself.
Baba is a unique phenomenon and therefore, no one can identify Him or understand Him. In 1960, He said, "I have not come to Madras for personal propaganda or publicity; I have not come to collect disciples or devotees. I am yours, though you may doubt, discard or deny Me. You are mine, though I am far away in space or time. What then is the need for publicity or propaganda? I am in you; you are in Me; we are inseparable. This truth can be known by you only when you know yourself." But, the world has foolish men who can feed their ego only by slandering those who are revered by others. Even in His 20th year, Baba assuaged the resentment of His elder brother, who feared that the role which Baba had taken up will draw upon Him the evil eye of envy and hate. Baba had replied that He would never be affected by praise or blame, that he was beyond the bounds of time and space, and that he would pursue the task upon which He has come unintermittently. "I invite all to come, experience, discriminate and judge and benefit from Me. Dive before you pronounce your estimate of the depth; eat before you declare the taste," He wrote.
This demand is beyond people who dip their pen in tar and revel in the gloom of night. Pathetic efforts have been made since the very first annunciation of Baba to wean people away from His Feet, by those who saw thousands trekking to Puttaparthi and returning home happier, healthier and more convinced of their own liberation from bondage. But, Baba has dismissed these with Divine Disdain and planted His Feet on Earth and Sky as He planned when He arrived in this Human Form. "To grasp My Meaning, you have to tear into tatters the doubts and diversions that you now indulge in and develop Prema. For, the embodiment of Prema can be known only through wisdom and pure Prema."
Microscopic brains exaggerate the colour of the gown that Baba wears and the curly hair that forms His distinctive crown and indulge in adjectives and expressions such as 'medieval potentate' 'luxurious silk' etc., as if Baba is an ascetic attempting laboriously to travel along the path of Sadhana! Baba says, "The Jnani will not look upon Me as wearing a yellow gown today, pink gown tomorrow, cotton in summer, silk in winter; He will penetrate to the Truth behind this Name and Form and he will know that this Body is a 'dress' worn for a purpose! The Avathar that will take place next, of this same Principle, will have another 'dress'. This was said by Him in 1960.
In 1962, during the Birthday Festival, He said, "I have often told you not to identify Me with this particular physical build-up. But, you do not understand. You call Me by one Name only and believe I have only this one Form. Remember, there is no Name I do not bear; there is no Form I do not fill. You have not understood me at all, if you come one day and go away the next, saying, 'I have seen Sathya Sai Baba; He wears a fine long gown; He has wonderful hair!' Determine to discover, decide to learn, dive deep and then, it will be made known to you, for, it is the right of such as you."
Baba is aware that mean men sneer at Him, as a 'magician'. At Vyasasram, established by the renowned Malayala Swami at Yerpedu, He said, "People say that mine is all magic, black or white. Well; they can say with equal truth that Krishna held aloft the Govardhan Mountain or that Rama built the bridge across the sea, through black magic! The manifestation of the Divine can only be inexplicable or miraculous. They cannot be equated with magic. How can the egg of the cuckoo be equated with the egg of the crow? Magic thrives on deceit, the tricks are rooted in falsehood and are used for appeasing the greed for food, clothing and shelter. This Body, which has come through Divine Will to uphold Truth can never stoop to that depth. No. Never."
The miracles which are spontaneous expressions of Baba's Divinity plentifully patent in His Presence, as well as where His physical presence is not evident, are not for advertisement or publicity. Baba said at Venkatagiri in 1964. "These miracles, as you call them, are but means towards the establishment of Dharma, which is My Task. Some people remark that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said that miracles produced by the faculties earned by Sadhana are obstructions in the path of the Sadhaka and they should be avoided by those who want to reach the goal of Self-realisation. Ramakrishna said that the Sadhaka will be tempted to overdo the demonstration and so inflate his ego. This is correct advice, so far as Sadhakas are concerned. But, the absurdity lies in equating Me with the Sadhaka whom Ramakrishna warned".
The miraculous cures that Baba effects when His Grace is sought after by people are also incidental and secondary, according to Him. "The removal of misery and distress is not the main plank of My Mission. My task is not merely to cure, console, and remove individual misery. It is something far more important. For the plantain tree, the fruit is the chief consummation; but, the leaves and the trunk are also useful to man. My main task is to promote, preserve, and propagate Sanathana Dharma. Do not hunger for comfort, for continuous bonds with the outer world, for more and more things to worry about; hunger for Ananda, deep and full! I know that most of you come to me for tinsel and trash, petty promotions and profits, status symbols and short-lived fame. Very few ask from Me the thing I have come to give, namely, Liberation from Grief and Pain, Worry and Fear, Anxiety and Agony".
Since the vile insinuations that are circulated by the calumniators are the products of envy at what they consider to be the luxurious living standard of Baba, it is good to remember that Baba eats the food of the poorest of this land without any milk or curds or butter or Ghee and that He has no taste for sweets. He sits and sleeps on the same mattress, at Prasanthi Nilayam and uses dilapidated cars or taxis in cities, lest the masses recognise Him and follow Him, for the coveted Darsan! Baba gives another reason also to infer that His lot is unenviable, to say the least. "Some of you may feel that it is glorious for the Lord to come in human form. If you were in My place, you would not feel so glorious. For, I am aware of the past, present and future of every one of you. Therefore, I am not moved by mercy; I know why a person suffers in this birth, what it is the consequence of. So, I react differently from you; you may call Me either cold-hearted or soft-hearted. I do not cause joy or grief; you design the chains that bind you, both gold and iron".
He is the most tireless worker at the Nilayam, planning, designing, arranging and supervising every little act that conduces to the proper functioning of its various world-wide activities. Nothing is done, there or in other places where organisations function in His Name, without His express permission and blessings. At the Nilayam, He is busy day and night, teaching, training, consoling, comforting and counselling, the hundreds who come to Him for light and guidance. Even while on tour, He uses what little time He can spare for the amelioration of the suffering and the distressed, the poor and the downhearted. "Make every moment holy by filling it with loving service". He advises, by example more than by precept.
Baba curbs the enthusiasm of devotees and does not allow them to display the fruits of the Grace they have received from Him. He declares that such display is highly unspiritual, for it promotes egoism. He condemns in very strong terms those who try to earn popularity and profit by erecting Mandirs and Temples for Him! Speaking at Kakinada in March 1965, Baba said, "I strongly discourage attempts to build temples for Me. I ask instead, that existing temples be renovated and used more. This mania for Mandirs has become a popular business adventure! People, armed with lists, search for likely victims and squeeze donations out of them, using My name. A great deal of backbiting, envy and greed is generated in this process; pushing your Master's name forward easily degenerates into tarnishing the name of the other man's Master." At Madras too, He harped on the same theme. "I do not appreciate this enthusiasm. Worship any Form, under any Name, in any Temple! You neglect the ancient temples of this City and build new ones, only to neglect them, also when you discover some reason to give up these new ones. People who run helter-skelter clamouring for donations for Mandirs are really promoting Atheism, for they are urged by greed, malice and egoism, rather than by the dedicatory spirit of devotion. When these self-styled promoters of the cause come to you, do not give even a Paisa Why do you need a hall for Japam or Dhyanam? Make your house a small Mandir for yourself; meditate in your shrine-room Sing Bhajans with you children. Impress others by your sweet speech, your humility, your universal love, your steady faith, your truthfulness. Then, others will come into the fold of believers, in numbers larger than any hall could bring."
Baba is ever on the watch to stop the overflowing of devotion into absurd channels. For example, there was a man who devised a series of discourses on Baba and on the Prasanthi Nilayam, which he sought to win popularity and money by attributing sacred properties to every tree and well, every stone and stump at the Nilayam, representing them as 'gods' and 'sages'! Baba sent me to his field of activity and directed me to warn his fans and to scotch his campaign of absurd adulation! He is ever alert to condemn the hysterical outpourings of adolescent and childish devotees, who affect to be 'possessed' by Him and to reply to questions asked, as if they are Himself! Any behaviour that weakens man, that trades upon the signs of Grace, that sets up pompous symbols of the simple Truth is immediately condemned by Baba, in His discourse or through a note in the Sanathana Sarathi magazine and its subsidiaries.
To misuse the freedom of speech and expression that we have won in India after a hard struggle and to taint with foul tongue and pen this Sublime Sacred Phenomenon, with so much power, wisdom and love is, we know, undiluted wickedness! But Baba will only say that it is a part of His play. "Without this dark slender, the splendour of My Glory will not shine bright."
Picturing Baba to be just another itinerant Fakir, who trades upon esoteric skills, many mean and small men, who can see only meanness and smallness, are slandering Him, wherever His Glory shines. All men must hang their heads in shame that human beings like themselves sit in their dens and concoct outrageously despicable fiction about a Person whose movements and utterances, attitudes and manners are so impeccably Divine. It is a measure of the fortitude and self control that Baba has instilled, into those whom He has drawn towards Him, the conviction that rags which revel in stink are best left alone to die of starvation. All who have tested His sweetness are pained by this exhibition of morbid malignophobia. Many newspapers howl pitiably against the Moon of His Majesty, and silence themselves when their throats get too sore, or when their hunger is not appeased by blackmail. Some men in Bombay unaware of His Glory, once pitted a practitioner of Yogic feats, like consuming nails and acids, against His Majesty and, when He passed unconcernedly by, tried to raise a laugh, which recoiled like a thunderclap on themselves.
Baba referred to it an Anantapur, where He presided over a School Day, soon after His return. "Last Month, I was in Maharashtra State, in Bombay, where Lakhs and Lakhs of people were able to slake their thirst for Darsan; I was discoursing to several thousands on the fundamentals of the Vedas and the Sastras and directing the members of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha (Maharashtra Branch) to resuscitate the great culture of our land. I was discussing with Ministers of Maharashtra State and the Home Minister of the Central Government, Sri Y.B. Chavan, and also judges, business magnates, doctors, lawyers, editors and others, besides spiritual leaders of various religions about Dharmasthapana, on the revival of Dharma. But, here, in this part of India, newspapers were wallowing in the lies they invented and circulated, about My being all the while in prison. Yes! I an imprisoned in the hearts of My devotees".
"Of course, such calumny is the experience of Eminence everywhere, at all times. This has been My experience, in previous eras also. The successors of Sisupala even now fret and fume, vomiting brimstone and fire, against Truth and Right. I pity these unfortunates who, in order to scrape together a few Paise from diseased minds, stoop to such venial tricks! These subhuman antics might pain some of you; so, I declare, 'Even if all the fourteen worlds unite against Me, the work for which I have come will not suffer a bit; even if earth and heaven combine in opposition, My Truth will remain unshaken".
Perhaps in response to the first rumblings of this tale of gall, Baba had said during Dasara 1965 itself, "There are some who write and speak as if they have known Me. I can only say this: They can never know Me, for, to know Me, one has to rise to this Stature. Again, listen to this: My activities and movements will not be altered whoever may pass whatever opinion on them. People may remark disparagingly on My dress, on My gown of coloured fabric, on My hair - but, I am not affected at all. Does a person became holier by wearing rags? Pay attention to what is grown in the heart, not on the head. I shall not stop My plans, My Dharmasthapana, My Bhaktharakshana, My Discourses, My miracles, which are but expressions of My Miraculousness nor shall I retrace or retract. For 26 years, I have been carrying on alone the task of inculcating Prasanthi in the hearts of those who have lost the art of gaining it. I am ever happy, full of joy. I smile at those deride Me and invent lies about Me; I smile at those who praise Me."
Baba advised those who were pained by this irresponsible but futile mudslinging, to be calm and unconcerned. "Do not damage your health by anger or worry. Be happy, on the other hand, that while you call on Me in your shrines, these men shout My name, along the dark squalid by-lanes and by the busy bus-stops, where they hope to find victims for their salacious ware. Many people who read the rag, through sheer craving for the sensational, will be turned to wards the Truth, by the very absurdity and unbelievability of the lies". He instanced the story of Bhasmasura, who won from Siva the power of causing a conflagration on the body of anyone, upon whose head he places his hand. He tried to kill Siva Himself by this newly won capability; but, God so manipulated events that, unaware of what he was doing to himself, Bhasmasura was tempted to place his hand upon his own head; he died in the conflagration that he lit upon himself. So too, their wickedness and their pride will be reduced to ashes in the fire of repentance. In fact, a gentleman, who ignorantly equated Baba with his own species of exhibitionistic yogis and challenged him to do a much-advertised feat, was humiliated by his own conceit; his promoters suffered dramatic discomfiture.
Baba analysed the motives of these men afflicted with pride. He said, "Egoism is the seed-plot of a host of down-dragging tendencies, like greed, anger, malice and hate. It clouds the intelligence and distorts the face of the real into the disgusting features of the false. It hides Truth in a cloud of dust and urges man into immoral deeds, in the effort to cater to the claims of self-aggrandisement." During Dasara, 1966, Baba spoke of some yogis who boast that they can walk on water and challenge others to do likewise, "It is a far greater and far more useful vital attainment, if a yogi can trample on envy, pride, greed and malice."
Speaking of men of little faith, Baba said on Krishna Janmashtami, 1966, "Do not give ear to what others say; believe your own experience, your own eyes. Whatever gives you joy and peace, believe that as genuine. Why should you go about asking all and sundry, whether something is salt or sugar? Having judged it as sugar, why should you revise your opinion, when someone cavils at it and says it is salt? Put a little on your tongue; that will clinch the issue. Do not deny with the tongue, what you have relished in the heart; do not bear false witness to your own conscience. Do not adjust your opinion to the company you fall into", He advised.
Only the Divine can evince such Love and such Mercy, towards error and mischief. Baba forgave His traducers, for they were as He said, "moths whose nature is to bore into fabrics. They cannot but do anything else; they have an inner impulse, which they have not been taught to overcome. They slander all who come in their purview. The moth bores into cotton saris, woollen cloth, silken vestments; it has no discrimination in its make-up. So, be happy that they are deriving joy by reviling Me. My aim is to render all men joyful. If these men can derive joy through such means, why should you deny them that avenue for the expression of their nature? I am glad that they are able to feed their wives and children with the coins which the stink sheets give them. Why should you be miserable, when they are eating their meal?"
Baba is Premaswarupa; He is love, in every limb and look, in every glance and stance; in every gesture and vesture of thought. So, He pardons these dealers in untruth and asks all good men to pray for their correction. "Sooner or later, they are bound to repent; no man can wander in the wilderness for long; when he discovers that he has lost his way, he will stop and retrace his steps, until he regains the highway. Pray for their transformation into Sathwic individuals, for the speedy cure of their blindness, for their tongues to cognise the taste of Truth. Direct your love to these misguided brothers; they will rejoin the pilgrim path, soon", Baba said, addressing the Dasara gathering in 1966. He gave the example of the leech which relishes diseased blood from the wound, but drops off, when it is too bloated to suck further. "They too fall off, when they have had their fill".
"When water is poured into milk, the water too acquires value and fetches a price! When lies are manufactured about the great, people who prefer nausea will pay cash for them".
Baba mentioned also a positive advantage, which these traducers confer. He said, "When the winnowing is done, the husk falls afar and can be thrown into the furnace. The grain forms a mound, it can be stored and made into bread that sustains and gives strength. These men fanning the empty air separate the chaff from the grain. Persons without deep-rooted faith fall off at the first whisper of scandal, but persons who have their faith deep-rooted, stand up against the storm; they get tougher and harder in fibre."
In May, 1966, Baba spent about ten days in a Coffee Plantation in the charming Hill District of Coorg, in Mysore. Coorg is the home of a hardy race of stalwarts in the fields of sports and battle. It is the nursery of heroic soldiers. The Coorgs are hospitable and pious. They trekked long distances, up hill and down hill, along the winding roads, in order to have a glimpse of the Lord staying in their midst. Baba had a smile and a blessing for every one of them; He visited a number of Coorg homes and spread light and joy. The bungalow where He stayed became the target for cars and omnibuses, from miles around. Later, Baba left for Madras and from thence, He accompanied some devotees to Kodaikanal, another salubrious Hill Station. Every day, at Kodaikanal, as at Coorg, Bhajan sessions were held, so that hundreds and thousands could imbibe the joy of singing the glory of God in chorus and thrill at the Darsan of Baba. Baba said, "The good luck of these people on the hills brought Me here; else, I had no plan to come."
Soon, Baba drove down to Madurai City where devotees had completed the construction of a new suburb around a Sai Baba Temple, which was named Sathya Sai Nagar in reverential gratitude. Discourses were given by Pundits from Tamilnad on three evenings and Baba, who presided, supplemented them with His elucidations.
Returning to Prasanthi Nilayam, with the first rains of the monsoon, Baba was available for Darsan to about 10,000 people who gathered on Guru Pournima; He gave each of them a few drops of Amrit, Nectar, with the exhortation that the tongue which has tasted Amrit should no longer relish Anrit (Falsehood). Baba inaugurated the Branch of the State Bank at Prasanthi Nilayam Township an amenity to help the residents as well as the thousands who visit the place. Baba transmutes each such occasion into a spiritual harvest; so, in His Discourse, He compared the Bank where money is taken and given, to the Bank where Love alone is accepted and given. "That Bank", He said, "receives deposits and maintains accounts strictly and confidentially. Every little is entered and accounted for - thoughts, deeds, words, good, bad, indifferent. Develop the saving habit, for saving yourself. Here they take Dhanam (money); there, they take Dhyanam (equanimity) as deposit." Each sentence was a brilliant flash, revealing the deepest Truth.
On the third of August, Baba presided over the Opening Day celebrations of the Primary Health Centre at Kothacheruvu, a village seven miles by road from the Nilayam. Baba was welcomed enthusiastically by the villagers, as well as by the Hon'ble Minister for Panchayath Raj, Dr. Lakshminarasiah from Hyderabad, and leaders elected to Local Bodies by the people of Anantapur District. One of them, Sri T. Ramachandra Reddy, the President of the District Board, Anantapur, confessed "I must admit that it is only after His fame has spread all over the world that we, who are living so near Puttaparthi have come to realise His Divinity". The Minister also said, "He is so near to us but, we commit the mistake of dealing with Him as if He is distant." There were many officers of the District on the dais. So, Baba said, "The Cabinet of Ministers, the officers and the people are like the three blades of the fan rotating here, to give us cool comfort; they must all, be activated by the current, (the spirit of service) to give happiness and peace." The mention by the Doctor of the need for the Family Planning by means of artificial aids drew from Baba a forthright condemnation of the movement that is bound to undermine morality and let loose buffeting storms of passion. "It is only rigorous self-control through Sadhana that can ensure the acceptance of parental responsibility; countrywide movements to spread artificial aids will bring about the fall of moral standards".
The fourth of August, 1966, is an important date in the history of Prasanthi Nilayam for, on that day, the Minister for Panchayath Raj, Andhra Pradesh ceremonially declared that the area was separated from the village of Puttaparthi of which it was but a 'ward'. It was constituted into an administrative unit, named the Prasanthi Nilayam Township. This was because the Nilayam was fast developing into the spiritual hub of India and the world; its rays were heralding the dawn of a bright new Day in all the continents of the earth. Baba called upon the residents of the Colony to "use the new administrative set-up, for the benefit of this as well as neighbouring areas".
In September, on the Birthday of Krishna, Baba gave Amrit to all who had gathered and also the Amrit of His Discourse on two days. "Edison", He said, "the great scientist and inventor, used to spend hours and days in his laboratory concentrating on some experiment or problem; milk, bread or tea was pushed into the room from under the closed door, but, they were untouched until he solved the riddle that was in his mind. So great is the concentration that science demands. Consider then how much more should the Sadhaka be fixed in single-mindedness, in order to achieve success in the subtler and the more sublime sphere of spiritual conquest. Man must be both bright and light, like the lamps that float on the Ganga at Hardwar. If the weight of worldly desire is added, the lamp will sink and the light will be out."
Dasara, 1966! While discoursing prior to the Hoisting of the Prasanthi Flag, Baba gave a new message to the thousands before Him: "I shall tell you of one form of worship which will endow you with divine strength". It was the reverential and grateful use by man of the Five Elements that are his constituents and His Manifestations, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether! "Use them all intelligently", He said, "use them to promote your own welfare and the welfare of others; use them in moderation and for the service of humanity."
The Hospital Day Celebrations were presided over by Opal Macrae, a famous writer and social worker from United States who had come to the Nilayam for her Sadhana. She spoke of her attempts to cure insanity, feeblemindedness and other defects by the therapy of music in New York and Hongkong. Baba said, "Music is the instrument by which passions are sublimated, emotions tamed, and impulses directed to higher purposes. India has recognised the therapeutic excellence of music long, long ago."Baba declared that medicine and hospitalisation are for those who hesitate and argue in doubt. For those who rely on the Supreme Doctor, His Name is drug enough.
In His Discourses on the significance of the Yajna, on the activities of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha, on the occasion of the Recitation of Poems by Poets, on the drama, 'Radhabhakthi' which He wrote and directed (contains as He said, 'the quintessence of a dozen discourses of mine') Baba was continuously harping on the pathetic condition of the world and of India, which He has come to heal. "The world is now narrowly compartmentalised, on the bases of religion, colour, convictions etc. Those who question the validity of compartments are themselves in a compartment! Metal pieces gathered in a heap are still pieces; they have not been fused; fuse the peoples in the crucible of Love, into One. The heart must be purged of hate; when God is installed therein, hate will flee. The thinkers of the West are turning to the East to learn the art of keeping peace and winning peace - lasting, satisfying peace - Prasanthi. The Sun is a minute dot of light, when compared with some of the stars; but, it does give illumination and drives away darkness. So too, India may be a poor and weak nation but it can give light and grant peace". Baba also spoke of the social illness of maladjustment that are infesting the world, in the wake of mechanisation and industrialisation. He said they smother man's divine nature, which struggles to blossom into Service, Sacrifice and Sadhana.
On the Deepavali Day, 1966, Baba said that Festival of Lights is ordained to celebrate the victory of heavenly over hellish impulses. Many thousands had gathered that day at the Nilayam to have His Darsan and to listen to His Discourse. Asking them, after the Festival to return to their places, Baba said, "I know your love towards Me; you know My affection towards you. But, yet, you have to leave to your places, where duties and obligations call you, where your services are needed by individuals and institutions. They are also Mine; service to them is service to Me. I desire also to give you the experience of My being everywhere, wherever you are, not restricted by time or space. If you are here always before Me, how can I grant you that joy?" He asked.
Baba's 41st Birthday came soon after. In the Birthday Message He graciously wrote and gave for publication in the Sanathana Sarathi, Baba said, "What do the many wars, that man has indulged in, teach him? They teach that lust, anger, hate, and envy are evil forces that haunt him. Examine the anarchy and the lawlessness, the chaos and the killings that are raging in the world today. They are the consequences of these evil forces. Why, even the illness your bodies suffer from and the unrest-nestling in your homes are due to the virtues of lust, anger, hate and envy. He condemned those who "impute faults and foist failings on others and indulge in blaming and hurting them. Hate and envy distort the charm of the human face. A person having greed, lust, anger and envy will suffer digestive and nervous illness. Therefore, learn to expand your Love and your devotion to God, until the whole of mankind has been enfolded", He advised.
When Baba came to the Auditorium during Bhajan on His Birthday, preliminary to the anointing that is the ceremonial rite of the day, He wore over His silken gown a resplendent shawl of gold-thread, into which was woven the letters Sairam, 1008 times, by a weaver devotee who, like Kabir, recited that sacred Name when the shuttle was moving to and fro forming the fabric, for the God whom he adored. He wore it, since the yarn was the gold of devotion. Baba went among the vast concourse of devotees and placed in the hands of each a 'Laddu' as the Birthday Gift of Grace. It was nearly 3 p.m. when Baba returned to the Nilayam after the long 5-hour distribution of grace. One small incident may be mentioned here to illustrate His Omniscience and His Mercy. One man among the 15,000 tried to collect more than one from His hands. At last, Baba told him, while giving him the Laddu, "This is the fifth I am giving you! I believe that is enough!" He knew how often he had given him; He had no harsh words against his greed.
In the discourse that Baba gave that evening, He gave a new interpretation to the words, Sathyam Sivam Sundaram. Those who were identifying them with Sath Chith and Ananda opened their eyes at the novel meaning: Follow the Karmamarga with the harmony and charm of Sundaram; follow the Bhakthimarga with the exhilaration and exaltation of Sivam; follow the Jnanamarga with the directness and steadfastness of Sathyam."
Three days later, He inaugurated a Public Library at Bukkapatnam, the village where, as a boy, He had attended school. Years ago Baba had opened a park there and later He had switched on electric lights in the Temple. He chided the villagers for being content with the contemplation of His Glory from a distance without taking earnest steps to get near Him and enjoy the warmth of His Heart. Speaking about books, Baba cautioned them against books that excite emotions and arouse passions and dull discrimination. Books must add strength to the will, and curb evil inclinations and urges in man. He spoke of the increasing neglect of classical literature and exhorted writers and readers to develop a taste for the basic excellence of our ancient culture.
On the thirteenth of December, Baba left for Trichinopally on the Kaveri river, where devotees had arranged a three-day session of the Prasanthi Vidwanmahasabha. The Principal of the Institute for the Training of Teachers of Hinduism at Madras welcomed Baba, in a speech replete with quotations from Tamil classics. He spoke of the supreme and sovereign Grace of Baba. "His look will grant illumination, His touch will communicate revelation, His word will awaken us to realisation", he said, quoting the sages of the distant past. Baba called upon all scholars and students to take up the task of their own moral uplift by their own efforts and of others by their example. He spoke of the devaluation of man into a mere nut in a mammoth machine whereas he is the heir to the heritage of Immortality. "You claim to have won Swarajya, because the men who ruled this land for centuries have gone home. But, the inner masters who rule tyrannically over you, have yet to be forced to quit. Until then, you have no Swarajya. When once that is done, no enemy can overpower you. That is the moment of your independence. Now what you have won is only the rind, not the kernel". On the 17th, Baba found time to go to the village of Budalur, where thousands had gathered round the Sathya Sai Vihar, to welcome Him, Baba moved among them in the thickening dust and while doing so, He noticed here and there some sick people to whom He gave Vibhuthi out of His own Hand. The first to get the precious drug was a dumb boy, the second was a deaf ryot and the third an old farmer with an ulcer in the stomach!
On the 18th He left Trichinpolly and stayed at Pollachi for the night. Next day, He motored to the Parambikulam Forest, the home of elephant herds, in order to show the people who were with Him the grandeur of that sylvan scene; but, it also enabled the simple dwellers of the jungle to fill their eyes with His never-to-be-forgotten Beauty.
Baba entered the State of Kerala on the 20th and after two dates at Palghat, He visited Ernakulam, Trippunittura and Alleppey, before reaching the Nilgiri Hills during Christmas. At Devi Vilas, Palghat, Baba moved among the devotees with His benign smile and courage-granting Abhayamudra. He spoke to many in the Malayalam language and drew the hearts of all towards Him. At Kollengade, when a cyclonic gale gathered heavy dark rain-clouds over the gathering and rain came down in thick drops, Baba said; "Do not worry. These are not rain drops! They are drops of Ananda, Sudhabindu!" And, the rains held of, for full one hour! This miracle was highlighted in the newspapers of Kerala the same day. At Trippuntittura, a Christian couple, deeply devoted to Baba, prayed to Him to lay a Foundation Stone for a Prayer Hall they had planned to build. At Olavakkot, too, a Sathya Sai Nagar (suburb of bungalows where Sai devotees live) had grown; so, Baba, out of His infinite Mercy, blessed it, laying the Foundation for a Prayer Hall. The twenty third of December was Vaikunta Ekadasi, the Day when Baba showers Grace, as Nectar to all. He spent the Day with devotees at Alleppy. Hundreds gathered there to taste the nectar of His Talk and imprint His Beauteous Form on their hearts.