Shivamma Thayee became a dedicated
disciple of Shirdi Sai Baba at a young age. The remains of her
modest ashram is situated in Bangalore on the road to Madras, where
her tomb lays under the main Mandir, dedicated to Shri Shirdi Sai
Baba. At Saionline we encourage Shirdi Baba devotees to take the
necessary procedures to preserve whatever is left of Shree
Shivamma's Thayees ashram, which is soon threatened of being lost
and forgotten from financial distress. Shivamma Thayee has deep
historical significance to the story on Shirdi Sai Baba, and
developed into a saint in her own right.
Given the family name of Rajamma, Sai Baba of Shirdi renamed young
Rajamma to Shivamma Thayee in 1917, declaring she would become a
saint. Today her samadhi is placed in her ashram in Madiwala on the
outskirts of Bangalore city. Shivamma was born in the small village
of Vellakinaru in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu (called Madras
Presidency at that time) and was the eldest of four children.
The parents, says Shivamma, were simple, loving and religious minded
people who encouraged the spiritual inclination of the children. At
the age of 13 according to customs, Shivamma was given away in
marriage to Sri Subramaniam Gunder. Shivamma gave birth to a son
after a year of the marriage and was very happy and content in her
new family-life. During this period Shivamma's uncle, Sri Thangavel
Gounder, had been inclined to become a Sanyasi (renunciate) and
traveled around the country in meeting of saints. One day the uncle
brought with him to their town near Coimbatore the famous Saint of
Shirdi: Sai Baba. Masses of enthusiastic people thronged to get a
glimpse of the famous saint, who was already then well known and
they felt proud of his presence in their district of Tamil.
At this time, in year 1906, Baba is believed to have been about
70-71 years of age. Shirdi Sai Baba stayed in the town for two days
and Shivamma's uncle did not let escape the chance for his family
and relatives to meet the great saint, and hopefully to receive a
Matrupadesh (a sacred mantra and initiation) from him. Shivamma
tells of this first meeting, "At that very time, I was breast
feeding my one year old son Mani Raj, seated behind at some distance
from my cousin brothers and sisters. Baba cast a moving glance on
all of us, and then he asked me alone to come near him by his
"Baba told my uncle, 'She is the only girl in the whole lot who will
be a highly elevated soul.' Baba then slowly chanted the Gayatri
Mantra to me and asked me to repeat the same."
The following morning Shivamma had forgotten her mantra and the
uncle again brought her to the saint, asking for pardon. Shirdi Sai
Baba wrote the mantra on a piece of paper, and Shivamma, who barely
knew how to read, feebly tried to learn the mantra letter by letter
in halting Tamil.
As time passed, Shivamma's household duties kept her occupied so as
to loosing the precious paper with the given mantra. That same
evening she had a dream of Shirdi Sai who told her, "You search for
the paper on which I wrote the Gayatri Mantra, in the big pot in
which you store rice in your house." The following morning she
indeed found the paper in the corner of the rice pot. From then on
Shivamma felt that Shirdi Sai was her genuine spiritual teacher and
accepted him as her Guru.
Soon after her initial meeting with the Saint of Shirdi, Shivamma
felt a desire to have darshan (vision/meeting) of the Saint at
Shirdi. Asking her husband the permission to leave for Shirdi, he
declined but on one condition: The family cow being old and of no
use, had to be sold within seven days. If this was to happen, the
husband promised enough faith in Baba and agreed to bring the wife
for darshan. As nothing can stop a devotee from seeing his or her
master when the time is ripe, within 4 days circumstances arranged
for the cow to be sold for a surprisingly good amount!
Shivamma says, "My entire family—my husband, son, myself and my
maidservant had Shirdi Sai Baba's darshan in his old Mosque Dwarka
'Mai Masjid.' To others, Baba generally blessed them by saying
'Allah achcha karega' (May the Allah do good to you). But to me Baba
spoke these two words in Tamil: 'Nalla iru' (Be prosperous). Baba
always spoke to me in my mother tongue Tamil and even to this day in
his spirit form he comes to me and talks to me in Tamil, which is
the only language I know and understand well."
Baba was always surrounded by many devotees and visitors. Shivamma
describes his countenance, "Baba sat in the Masjid in a very simple
yet majestic manner. He was about six feet tall. He had very long
hands and the fingers of his hands stretched below his knees. His
color was very fair and he had a sharp nose with big nostrils. He
was neither thin nor fat. His eyes were not black but blue and deep.
They shone brightly and penetratingly. People used to say that
Baba's eyes glittered in the night like the eyes of a cat or a
tiger. I was very much fascinated by the charm of my charismatic
Shivamma witnessed many of Shirdi Sai Baba's miracles and powers.
"Baba was fond of cooking for his devotees. Wood was burning in the
chullah (clay stove) and the ragi gruel was boiling in the pot. Baba
pulled up his sleeve and immersed his right hand into the boiling
gruel and stirred it many times. Evidently, there was no effect of
the boiling ragi on his hands. Many people witnessed this sort of
cooking done by Baba. Baba himself distributed his food to all
devotees, and even to animals and birds who happened to come to his
Masjid at that time."
Shivamma used to travel alone to Shirdi to see Sai Baba three to
four times a year, despite her husbands growing unwillingness. She
used to stay in Shirdi for a few days at a time, having his darshan
and witnessing his powers in play.
Soon Shivamma became so attached to her Guru, that she started
chanting his name in her household and thus grew disinterested in
regular out-worldly life. She says, "Baba treated me as a daughter
and showered his grace on me. On many occasions, I was the sole
witness to his miracles." One extraordinary 'yoga' practice Baba
used to do was called Khand Yoga. She explains, "One of my visists
to Shirdi was around 1915. I witnessed a very horrible thing; I was
staying in a rented room close to the Dwarka Mai. There was no
latrine in that house, and one night at 1:30 am I had to out in the
open space some distance away to urinate. It was pitch dark. As I
walked near the Dwarka Mai in the street, something like a wooden
log hit my feet. I took it up. To my horror, it was the leg of a
human body with blood on it. I put it down at once and moved ahead
After about five to six feet I hit upon another mutilated part of a
human body—it was a full arm cut off from the shoulder. I was
dreadfully frightened. At once I ran to my room and closed the door
immediately." Shivamma thought that someone might have murdered
Shirdi Sai, and she could not sleep all night weeping and crying.
She continues, "At about 5 am I got up from my bed and mustered some
courage to peep through the window of my room towards the Dwarka Mai
Mosque. To my amazement I saw Shirdi Sai Baba sitting in the open
courtyard silently smoking his chillum (pipe). I went at once and
narrated to him the experience from the previous night." Baba then
told her, "Daughter Rajamma, I had done my Khand Yoga last night,
which I do sometimes. I separate my limbs from my physical body, and
then my physical life is no more there. My Spirit have seen you
moving in the street and stumbling against my mutilated legs and
He had further told her that he would teach her the techniques of
Khand Yoga, which she refused to accept. Shivamma says, "To my
knowledge, he did not make such an offer to anyone among his
countless devotees during his lifetime."
Another 'yoga' she witnessed Baba doing was Dhauti Yoga, where the
Mahatma used to swallow a long cloth, about 20 feet, and then pull
it out of his mouth by the local well. This was Shirdi Sai's way of
'cleaning the intestines'.
It gets more intense: "On some occasions, Baba used to take me to
the well outside Shirdi. There he used to do another thrilling yoga.
He would take out his intestines from his mouth, wash them with
water, and then spread them by the well. He would entrust me the
responsibilities of guarding his intestines from eagles, crows and
other birds, because I was his Sishya (disciple). After the
intestines being dry, Baba swallowed them again."
For his devotees Baba was a very patient and caring Guru. He knew
about their past, present, and future and would deal with each case
according to this. At times, he would also become very angry and
scold people but his anger was a facade for disciplining his
follower. He taught his followers and disciples the higher truths of
spiritual life in very simplified words through depicting real life
stories, parable, and the accounts of previous lives of many
persons, and also other creatures. Shirdi Sai Baba, the incredible
saint of Shirdi, left his mortal frame (Mahasamadhi) on October 15,
OM SAI SRI SAI
JAYA JAYA SAI!!!
Let us pray at the feet of Sai Baba who is the incarnation of all
gods and protector of all, to show mercy on us, and increase our
devotion towards him.