recently a partial witness to an incident which provides another
powerful clue to Baba’s identity. One of the most famous
shrines in India is the hilltop temple to Lord Venkateshwara
(a form of Vishnu), in Tirupathi, Tamil Nadu.
Venkateshwara is considered by many Hindus to be the Supreme
Lord, and the idol in this temple is known all over India for
the powerful blessings it bestows. As with many of the
sub-sects in Hinduism, there is an understandable quality of
exclusivity in the devotees of that shrine, especially among the
priests who perform the worship; for generations their families
have been single-mindedly devoted to Venkateshwara
day in late November, 1998, the priests were performing a
special pada puja (foot worship) ceremony to the Venkateshwara idol, when
suddenly the idol’s feet were transformed before their
eyes into the feet of a living man. Looking
up, they beheld, in place of the Venkateshwara idol, the
living form of Sathya Sai Baba. “If you want full darshan,” He told them, “come to Whitefield next week!” Baba then disappeared, leaving
Venkateshwara in His place.
I was in
Sai Baba’s Whitefield Ashram on December 6th, 1998, the day the
priests from Tirupathi, dozens of them, arrived to receive the
full darshan of the living God who had appeared before
them in their shrine. (To help the
Western reader understand the dynamics of the event, it might be
a bit like a group of Catholic Bishops coming to bow before a
Protestant, and acknowledging that Christ was incarnate in that
Lord Venkateshwara is another
form of Lord Vishnu who is also very popular as a Hindu deity.
He is also known as Balaji or Bithala.
The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on
the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati
Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini.
It is by the Lord's presidency over Venkatachala, that He has
received the appellation, Venkateswara (Lord of the Venkata Hill).
He is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills.
The temple of Sri Venkateswara has acquired unique sanctity in
Indian religious lore. The Sastras, Puranas, Sthala Mahatyams
and Alwar hymns unequivocally declare that, in the Kali Yuga,
one can attain mukti, only by worshipping Venkata Nayaka or Sri
The benefits acquired by a piligrimage to Venkatachala are
mentioned in the Rig Veda and Asthadasa Puranas. In these epics,
Sri Venkateswara is described as the great bestower of boons.
The Lord Venkateshwara's temple attracts 10-15 million pilgrims
Venkateshwara, or Babaji
More about the Venkateshwara
Dear Sai Friends,
I am posting below a message I received from
Whitefield about the incident which has been discussed recently
on Sainet. It certainly is an excellent example of the way our
beloved Swami works to bring those into His presence who are
ready to accept Him.
Swami came to Brindavan (where I live most of
the time) on Dec 3rd 1998 and we had great darshans. They have
refurbished the old Ramesh Hall and have torn down the old
marriage hall, enlarged it and set back Swami's entrance gate.
On Monday, the 7th of December, in afternoon
darshan at Whitefield, about one hundred men and priests arrived,
with musicians. They were positioned on the men's side, up
front. On the evening of the 7th, I learned the reason why the
priests had come. They were all from Tirupati, the oldest and
most famous of all temples in India. It is dedicated to Lord
Venketeshwara. It seems that in the morning, when the priests
went to open the doors in front of the idol of , superimposed
upon the idol was the form of Sri Sathya Sai Baba! Being
quick to grasp the implication that Baba is THAT, they all
high-tailed it to Whitefield, where the Lord they worshipped was
in human form! Interestingly enough, they also had a cameraman
with them and he was filming the special darshan Swami gave the
Tirupati priests and musicians. This is one of the BIG ones (miracles),
He has brought each one of us to Him in the
way that was best for us. Each instance was a miracle. Maybe
someone could write a book entitled "A Million Miracles," giving
the stories of each of us and how Swami aroused our awareness of
the Divinity which He knows Himself to be and is teaching us
that we are.
Love and blessings,
my wife, Lakshmi who stays at Puttaparthi has
just emailed me this message:
A few months back the pujaris (priests) were
doing special puja (prayer) to Venkatachalapathi at
Tirupathia in which all the pujaris were to blindfold themselves
and offer flowers, etc. While doing puja, they felt the Lord's
feet and hands to be flesh and not stone. The rest of the Body
when felt was of stone. When repeatedly they felt the same they
could not withhold their inquisitiveness and opened their
blindfold. They found right in front of them instead of
Venkatachalapathi of stone Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in flesh
and blood. He gave them the vision, blessings and disappeared.
They could not contain their joy and
immediately took all the ornaments with which they decorate the
Lord of Tirupathy and came to Prasanthi to decorate the Lord in
flesh and blood and enjoy the sight.
Swami called them in and first chided them for
opening their blindfold and asked them how could He trust them
if they did not obey the customs of the puja. They asked for
forgiveness. He showered them with blessings and sent them away.
A few days back they had come once again to
Whitefield (Baba was in Whitefield for a few days last week)
with all the Lord's ornaments, nadaswaram (trumpets) etc., to
felicitate the Lord. Everybody present saw it. Swami asked them
not to make it public, blessed them with an interview and sent
So please tell all that the Lord of Tirupathi
is none other than Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Tamani, 12 November 1998 in Sai Net
I read Joy's letter with great delight. It is
actually additional detail to what I heard. I must point out
that I am giving you hear-say. I have no idea of the truth of
I was told that the priests do not look
Venkateshwara in the face. They approach Him looking at His Feet.
On the first occasion Swami appeared to them, they saw human
feet as they approached and as they looked up the idol's form,
it changed portion by portion into Swami's. On that occasion
nothing else was said. This version seems to differ somewhat
from Joy's, and Joy may well be correct and my version incorrect.
The second time this happened, Swami talked to
the chief priest and commanded him to come to Whitefield. The
priest and all his retinue went and from there, the story picks
up as Joy said. I did hear one extra detail and that is:
The reason for Swami inviting them, apart
from declaring that He is Venkateshwara (no small declaration),
was to reassure them that He would protect the temple from
secular violence, then happening around them.
Joy and peace,