How Kasturi received his name
(From the book "Loving
God" by Kasturi)
'On the twelfth
morning of my life, a label was attached to me amidst a great deal
of religious noise. My father saw me for the first time only then,
when he came to name me. The name which has stuck to me ever since
was an ancient one, much the brighter, because it was borne by a
series of grandfathers. The rule was that the first son must be
named by the father after his own father. So, I was given by
father the name his father bore .... My first son was named
Narayana by me, because that was the name my father had ....
Father took me from mother's hands and sat on the floor facing the
family shrine with me on his lap. He prayed to God to bless the
name and help me to add some more fragrance to it. The he raised
me by the shoulders to his face and whispered thrice in my right
ear a long string of strange sounds, by which I was to be known
thereafter. It was a nine-syllabled rodomontade (ranting talk). I
had tumbled into the Brahmin caste and so, the last two syllables
had to be Sharma,
symbolising that status. The rest of the name,
indicated, neither the God idolised in my village nor the God
installed on the Seven Hills. It denoted God, as adored by
millions in Tamilnadu, installed in a reclining posture, on a
multi-hooded many coiled serpent and described by that name as "musk-dot
adorned". Kasturi means 'musk', 'ranga' means 'stage', and 'natha'
means 'director' or 'master'. The temple of "Ranganatha with the
Kasturi dot" is situated on an island, called Sri Ranga (The
Stage), in the Kaveri River, formed by it while half-way from the
Mysore Plateau to the Bay of Bengal.
... The substance
called musk is valued as a precious perfume. Since it is also
dark in color, a dot of musk between the brows serves to ward
off the evil eye. It was preferred by nobles and princesses over
cheaper contrivances. The brow of the idol at Srirangam was
marked with the Kasturi dot, for nothing less could satisfy the
devout worshippers. The name "Director of the Stage" reminds us
that 'All the world is a stage'. God directs the cosmic play,
unaffected Himself. he reclines magnificently on terror and
poison, with His head on a pillow of calm. His will achieves and
motivates. The Katha Upanishad declares, "Seated, He journeys;
reclining, He is everywhere".
Ranganatha Sharma was too long a word to be uttered in full,
every time I was spoken of or to. The caste symbol 'Sharma' could
be painlessly amputated. The rest symbol too had to be curtailed,
but, the problem was, head or tail? My grandfather was accosted
and referred to, by all who had to deal with him, only as
Ranganatha, and for the daughter-in-law (my mother) to mouth the
name of the father-in-law was taboo! So, the second half had to be
jettisoned. The result was, I came to be known as the fragrant
animal substance used for 'dotting' the Divine Brow.
I could stand with
folded hands in the presence of the "Kasturi Ranganatha" only in
my 70th year! It came about through Baba's Grace. Friends
invited me to a town called Tirupur to speak on Baba, on the
24th day of December. And Baba directed me to go. But, I longed
to spend Christmas Day with Baba, since it reminded me of my
entry into the world stage. I asked permission to go over from
Tirupur to Srirangam and worship Him in the Ranganatha,
reclining on the serpent. The serpent, Baba says, is symbolic of
pollution, poison and death and God is pictured as overwhelming,
quietening and mastering these evil traits. Baba said, "Yes. Go
to Sri Rangam and eat your fill of sweet rice". The reference to
sweet rice did not surprise me. Years previous, when we were
proceeding to Madras, Baba, as was his wont, asked every single
person in the car to sing for Him a song. My genes had no music
among their components but I had to obey, nevertheless. Memory
brought up for me a song I had heard a clown sing during a play
I chanced to attend while at school. it was a prayer to Shiva
for a morsel of sweet rice, wrung out of a hungry onlooker at a
feast conspicuously consumed by the rich. Baba must have
discovered that my subconscious had hooked up this particular
lilt, for the reason, that I myself had an unfulfilled hunger
for this dish, deep within me! He decided to remove that pang at
Srirangam on my 70th birthday.
I was thrilled when
I stood before the shrine and filled my eyes and heart with the
entrancing vision of the 20 foot idol, stretched on the coils of a
seven-hooded serpent excluding captivating icono-charm. To my eyes,
the Feet, the upraised soles were not of dark green stone as the
rest of the Divine Body was. They were alabaster with a shade of
blue. They were soft, tender, fair, familiar, alive; they were
Baba's! I removed myself away from the portals of the shrine with
great reluctance. Sweet rice was, I believed, the routine offering
at Ranganatha shrine but that day, we were given only laddus and
We had one more
temple to visit on that holy island - a famous Shiva temple with
the sacred Jambu Tree. When we moved out of that temple, the
priest ran behind us, to announce that it was specially sacred day
when "Sweet rice was offered to the deity." This was welcome news
indeed. He insisted on our turning back into the temple. He made
us squat on the clean floor to the right of the shrine; he spread
banana leaves before us and served sizable heaps of the dish Baba
had asked me to 'eat my fill'.'
Sri Kasturi was born
on Christmas Day 1897. Swami jokingly called him 'the 97 model'.
Naming the year of production was the way antique automobiles were
identified. He passed away on 14 August 1987 and was cremated on
the banks of Chitravathi on the 15th. He was 90. He had made it
easy for us to remember by coming among us on a Christmas Day and
leaving us on India's Independence Day anniversary (India attained
Independence at midnight on 14-15 August 1947). Kasturi served
Swami for 40 years and lived those 40 years in Independent India.
Kasturi, I told V.K. Narasimhan (Kasturi's deputy editor and later
the editor of Sanathana Sarathi) that Kasturi was Swami's Hanuman.
VKN corrected me, 'No. No. You are wrong. Kasturi was Swami's
Vyasa'. VKN told me that Swami asked him to write a tribute on
Kasturi in SS (see below) - a rare expression of Swami's Grace.
Apart from Swami rushing to Kasturi's hospital bedside at the time
of his last moments and giving him vibhuthi, another rare blessing
was Swami getting Kasturi to write his autobiography 'Loving God'
and Swami launching it on Christmas Day 1982, in his presence, on
his 85th birthday, 5 years before his death . On that occasion,
without prior notice, Swami had asked VKN to speak on Kasturi. VKN
spoke for 5 minutes, after that Swami had whispered into VKN's
ears, 'Very good, very good'. In that day's Christmas discourse
Swami said, "Whom does God seek? He looks for a sincere, selfless,
steady devotee. Besides, He seeks an ideal son who can be held
before mankind as an example and an inspiration. Such persons have
become extremely rare nowadays" (SSS vol. XV, ch. 59). I like to
think that Swami found that 'rare person' in Kasturi.
'Loving God' is not
only Kasturi's life story. It is the story of God and jiva, Guru
and sadhaka, the story of Swami making Kasturi an exemplary
instrument in His avataric mission, an inspiration to humankind.
It is a message for all. That is probably why Swami got Kasturi to
In my monologues
with Swami, I thanked Him several times for Kasturi's
multi-facetted seva, for Him and for us. Today again, I join GR to
think kindly of Kasturi. May he be Well and Happy, at His Feet or
wherever he is! Loka(s) Samastha(s) Sukhino Bhavanthu! - May all
the beings in all the worlds be happy.
see his photo taken by GR and posted in the Files area of Sai
Discourses. Swami also took Kasturi's photo once. It is a very
funny story and one, as is usual with Swami, with a very profound
spiritual message. I leave you to read it in Kasturi's own
inimitable language in 'Loving God' and learn/re-learn the message
that Swami conveyed to us at Kasturi's expense. Before that see
the Appreciation written by late V.K. Narasimhan (Editor) and
published in Sanathana Sarathi, September 1987, p. 260.
Unto Sai a
"Death is the
denouement of the drama of life," wrote Prof. Kasturi in 1981.
That denouement came to him on August 14 at noon, a few minutes
after Bhagavan Baba saw him in the Sathya Sai Hospital at
Prasanthi Nilayam. He was 90.
Bhagavan Baba, who
was overseeing a students' rehearsal in the College Auditorium,
abruptly stopped it at 11.30 a.m. and went straight to the
Hospital. Reaching the bedside of Prof. Kasturi, Swami called him:
"Kasturi!". Prof. Kasturi opened his eyes for a moment and looked
at the Lord. Bhagavan materialized vibhuti and placed it in
Kasturi's mouth. Kasturi closed his eyes and a serene peace
enveloped him. Swami told those at the bedside to do Namasmarana.
An hour later his spirit merged in the Lotus Feet of the Lord.
Streams of devotees paid their last respects to him at the
The next morning his
mortal remains were cremated on the bed of the Chitravathi river.
For over forty years
he rendered devoted service to Bhagavan as writer, editor,
companion and tireless propagator of Swami's life and message.
Millions of devotees all over the world got acquainted with
Bhagavan's life and teachings through the four volumes of "Sathyam
Sivam Sundaram" (on the life of Bhagavan) and the 11 volumes of
"Sathya Sai Speaks", besides the Vahini series.
Prof. Kasturi was a
witness to the innumerable miracles of Swami and he could bear
authentic testimony to the glory and magnificence of the Avatar as
few others could. He had traveled with Bhagavan all over India.
Vivid accounts of his intimate experiences with Swami are given in
his autobiography, "Loving God," which was released by Swami on
Christmas day in 1982.
Kasturi continued to
work right upto his last illness, giving of his best to "Sanathana
Sarathi," which Swami launched in 1957 with Kasturi as Editor.
After 1982 Kasturi
brought out two books, one on the Lord's mother "Easwaramma," and
the other on the essence of Swami's message in a book entitled "Prasanthi".
It could be truly
said of Kasturi: "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven". - Editor.
August 14 to be
understood as August 14, 1987.
photo's gathered by N. Kasturi
out of his book "Loving God"
- Eighty five years under the Watchful Eye of The Lord
'My Mother at 75'
'Myself and Wife Anointing Avatar on Advent Day'
'Carrying Sunshade over 'Sun' '
'With the Lord on Kashmir Hills'
'Holding beholding Vibhuthi Wonder'
'Holding beholding Vibhuthi Wonder'
'The Translator stands corrected'
'Sand as SrÓ Krishna'
'Bh‚gavatam Recital - Kerala'
'Portrait Unveiling' - at Bukkapatnam'
'Each hair can bear a nation's woe' - Poet's Meet - 1964
I'm reading the above line'
'Toward Badrinath - 1961'
'When He first drew me to Himself - 1948'
'He looks at His own Portrait - 1967
'He clicked at His empty chair'
Source of this
Visit: Vahini.org - Vahini
Books written by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba