My parents were devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba. In
those days 'SAI' was already a name often used by us in our little
family, which lived in a village called 'Kikkeri' of Mandya
District of Karnataka. I lost my parents when I was very young and
I became an unsettled orphan in that parentless family. I left
home and for the next five to six years I was wandering from place
to place visiting many a holy pilgrimage centers, often in the
company of some wandering monks. On such a journey during the year
1953, I had also been to Puttaparthi and visited the young Sai
Baba. In those days, a metallic archboard bearing the words in
Telugu 'Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Prasanthi Nilayam' was there
on the main gate of Puttaparthi. The word 'Bhagavan' attracted my
curiosity of the reality of Baba and I wanted to taste the powers
of Baba and stayed there for a few days. I was not much impressed
first in any way about Baba, as I was in the company of other
sadhus who were familiar with some tantric trics. My
companionship with sadhus, instead of giving me Spiritual
knowledge, resulted in my addiction to narcotics and allied
I was now about twenty years old and I was
growing up with a distinct personality. I had the opportunity of
visiting Rishikesh where I met a divine master named Swami
Shradhananda. I was blessed to be his servant for some time. The
Swami told me about Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba and His divine
Once Bhagavan Baba had visited the Ashram of
Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and many sadhus in that area
had the darshan of Bhagavan Baba. Swami Shradhananda did not go to
Him. The Swami told me that Bhagavan Baba can come to us whenever
and wherever we yearn for His darshan—Swami Shradhananda was known
for his higher attainment of yogic practices. One day Swami
Shradhananda narrated to me about his experience of Bhagavan Baba's
visit to His dwellings, when at the same time Baba was in
Rishikesh in Swami Sivananda's Ashram, Swami Shradhananda had
particulary told me that my peaceful future would be by the
blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
After the samadhi of Swami Shradhananda
in Mount Abu, I returned to South India. My mind was wooing to be
near Bhagavan Baba's divine feet. I went to Puttaparthi. Baba did
not speak to me. He was so different and unlike many other Swami's
who generally impress those who came to them. I was very much
disappointed and became upset in life without a clear direction.
My experience with sadhus who often choose to live by
begging made me feel ashamed. My daily needs forced me to steal
valuable things. I also used to be a clever liar to collect money.
I was lead to the pleasures of alcoholic sensations.
Once again I was in Bangalore when I learnt that
Baba was in Whitefield. I rushed for His darshan. Just then Baba
was leaving in His car to a devotees house for lunch and I
followed Him by foot to that place. When Baba saw me standing
outside the compound wall, He asked me to have food in that house.
When He returned to Whitefield I followed Him immediately. This
time Baba spoke to me length and advise me to join some place to
work without wandering aimlessly.
I followed Baba's words and I was given a job:
physical labor at Pandavapura Sugar Factory. I yearned to be at
Puttaparthi. I was a regular participant at Sri Ramachandra
Shetty's Bhajan Center in Mysore. Baba had blessed his house by
His divine presence many times. The song 'O! Bhagavan. O!
Bhagavan' was my song of the soul and I cried with it to Baba
about my misfortune. During that period, I was thrown out of my
temporary job. I rushed by walk to Puttaparthi to have Baba's
darshan. I was stopped by Baba himself at Penukonda Railway Level
Crossing. He was driving down to Bangalore and asked me, "Where
are you up to?" I told Him that I was going to have His darshan at
Puttaparthi. I told Him my problem and He told me, "You are
already having your darshan. And now return to your work! You will
be given a permanent job." He also gave me 20 rupees for my needs.
My joy knew no bounds! I spent every paise of it then and there
and I returned to Pandavapura. Baba's words were true. I was again
given a job in the same factory where I was working earlier.
Though I got a job it was really difficult to
manage my earnings of only 2 rupees per day; my bad habits were
many and my daily needs had to be met. Once during a Shivaratri
Festival I was at Puttaparthi and had stolen some clothing
belonging to devotees and on my return to my place I exhibited
them as a gift given to me by Baba!
The journey to Puttaparthi was not so expensive.
A trip up and down to Puttaparthi was just costing 6 rupees.
However, I was not fortunate enough to have even that amount at
times. Once I was at Puttaparthi and I extended my stay beyond my
limits of expenses. I had stolen a suitcase belonging to a devotee
and secured it on the top of the hillock of 'Vata Vriksha'
beside the big boulders, overlooking Prasanthi Nilayam. Baba had
consoled the victim and assured him he would he would get his
suitcase back soon. I was standing along with other devotees to
get Baba's darshan, when Sri Kasturi came to me and directed me to
see Baba in His room. There, Baba admonished me for my bad
behavior and asked me to return the suitcase immediately. I
pleaded with Him for pardon and told Him that I would not be doing
such a nasty thing if only Baba had blessed me to have a decent
life. I also pleaded my fear of police and publicity and sought
His protection. Baba blessed me with His protection and told me
that, "No big police officer, whatever be his rank, can ever touch
you as long as you have me for protection!" Then He sent Mr.
Kasturi to collect the suitcase instead of me. He never disclosed
this incident to anyone else. He gave me vibhutti but no money
this time. Sri Kasturi after hearing everything about me and my
devotion to Baba told me that in a way I was really blessed by
Baba and paid for my return ticket to Pandavapura.
The job in hand was satisfactory. The wages were
very meager. My bad habits were many. I also desired to have Baba's
darshan often. I got into marriage on the advice of my
well-wishers. But my grief was doubled in every respect especially
as my journey to Parthi now became impossible.
I was set to satisfy myself with a photograph of
Bhagawan kept for my daily worship at home and I became an example
of wonder to the people around me for my degraded situation.
On 1963 Gurupoornima day, I was in Puttaparthi.
There we learnt that Baba was suffering from a stroke of paralysis.
Sri Kasturi explained to us that Baba suffering were a result of
His 'taking over' the pains of a devotee. It was already a week.
On the day before Gurupoornima, Baba was brought out for public
darshan, being carried on a chair held by a number of devotees.
Baba was seen by us in a completely helpless situation as His left
hand and leg were in a stiffened condition. All of us were
thinking "Is this the situation for God even?"
Just then Baba was asking for a cup of water to
drink. It was given to Him immediately. Baba had a few sips of
water and seeing Him I felt bad and I broke into tears. I was
crying as if Baba had left His body, ending His avataric mission!
But Baba was soon standing in front of us, speaking to us with His
sweet melodious voice.
This incident made a forceful impact on me.
During the speech He explained to us (among many things), His
leela of taking over diseases belonging to His devotees as
part of His mission. He also told us about His three divine
Avatars; one was at Shirdi, the second which is now at
Puttaparthi, and te third which would descend as Prema Sai at some
place in Mandya District of Karnataka on the banks of Cauvery
At the same time I was telling myself if
Bhagavan Baba was God really and on that next day if only Baba
blessed me permitting me a padnamaskar at His feet
untouched by anybody else, I would become a completely changed
person devoting the rest of my life to service and would lead a
life comfortably remembering His name and settling down on the
banks of the river Cauvery at Sri Rangapatnam.
On the next day, Baba blessed this poor soul and
his desire, and I am whatever I am today. His shower of blessing
washed every cell in this body and gave me everything I dreamt of
as an aimless wandering man. Besides blessing me with the shower
of Vibhutti and flow of Amrith, He changed me
totally to be an unseful instrument in rendering some small help
in giving shelter for many orphaned children who live with our own
children in our house. My house is now full of such sweet names of
our Lord, when I call my children Sai Prasad, Sai Prema, Sai Kumar,
Sai Ganesh, Sai Shankar, Chitravathi, Prasanthi, etc., and I feel
blessed to be constantly remembering Bhagavan Baba and His
greatest Leela of reforming me and securing me strongly in
His Divine embrace.