The Announcement

On May 23, 1940, Sathya rose from bed as usual, but after some time, He called the members of the household around Him, gave them sugar candy and flowers taken from nowhere. At this, the neighbours too rushed in. He gave them each a ball of rice cooked in milk, flowers and sugar candy concretised by a mere wave of the hand. Meanwhile, Venkama Raju came and he was incensed by what he thought was a trick, hiding things somewhere and producing them by sleight of hand. He wanted the chapter to be closed before it lengthened into a tragedy. So, arming himself with a stick, he accosted Sathya and asked, “Are You a God, a ghost or a madcap? Tell me!” Prompt came the answer, the Announcement, that had been held back so long, “I am Sai Baba.”

At this, Venkama Raju was stunned into silence; the stick slid from his hands. He stood staring at Sathya trying to grasp the implications of that announcement – “I am Sai Baba.” But, Sathya continued, “I belong to Apasthamba Sutra; I am of the Bharadwaja Gothra; I am Sai Baba; I have come to ward off all your troubles; keep your houses clean and pure.” The elder brother, Seshama Raju went near him, and asked, “What do you mean by ‘Sai Baba’?” He did not reply, but only said this much – “Your Venkavadhootha prayed that I be born in your family. So, I came.” (There was a tradition in the family, of a great ancestral sage called Venkavadhootha, who was looked upon as a Guru in hundreds of villages around.)

The father felt that Sai Baba was a Muslim spirit speaking through the boy and so, he asked, “What are we to do with You?” Prompt came the answer; “Worship Me!” “When?” “Every Thursday! Keep your minds and houses pure.”

One Thursday, someone challenged Sathyanarayana and asked Him, “If you are Sai Baba show us some proof, now!” Baba replied, “Yes, I shall” and asked for some jasmine flowers. With a quick gesture, He threw them on the floor and said “Look.” They saw that the flowers had formed, while falling, the Telugu letters, ‘Sai Baba’!

Divine Omnipresence

On an invitation from some townsmen in Hospet (Municipal commissioner of Bellary invited Swami. Ref. 20 Oct. 2002 discourse), Seshama Raju decided to take Sathya on a picnic to see if it might improve the mental health of the boy. Hospet is a few miles away from the ruins of Hampi, the capital city of the Emperors of ancient Vijayanagara Kingdom in what is now the state of Karnataka.

There, they visited the temple of Lord Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara. While the others in the party went into the temple to offer worship at the sanctum sanctorum, Sathya stood outside admiring the height and majesty of the Gopuram (tall pyramid-shaped roof of a temple). When the priest waved the flame of camphor before the Lingam (ellipsoid structure worshipped as Lord Shiva), they saw to their utter amazement, Sathya there inside the shrine! He was standing in place of the Lingam, smiling and accepting their salutations. Thinking that Sathya may have slipped into the shrine evading everybody’s notice, Seshama Raju went outside to verify whether He was still there. Yes, indeed Sathya was there, leaning on a wall and staring at the horizon! He rushed inside the sanctum sanctorum and, yet again, he found Sathya standing there and blessing everybody.

This incident confirmed their faith in Sathya as a Divine Manifestation. They offered special Puja (worship) to Him that day. Hospet was on its toes with expectation and excitement. The story that He was seen as Virupaksha had spread to that town long before they reached it. The next day He cured a chronic tuberculosis patient by His touch and made him get up and walk a mile; He materialised a variety of articles for the devotees and the enthusiasm of the people knew no bounds. Bhajan and Namasankirtan (singing the name of God) continued far into the night.

continue reading: The Early Years