Enthralling Reminiscences of the Days of Yore
From the mental diary of Mrs. Karunamba Ramamurthy - Part 5
Extremely fortunate to come to His lotus feet when she was just a tiny girl in the 1940s, Mrs. Karunamba Ramamurthy, lovingly addressed as Kannamma, has a priceless treasure trove of incredible memories of the yester years. She is also the author of the famous book "Sri Sathya Sai Anandadayi - Journey with Sai". This is the fifth part of her wonderful reminiscences.
The owner of the house we had rented during those days at Bangalore had a friend who was very vociferous in his anti-Swami sentiments. He often even argued with my mother regarding this.
Mrs. Karunamba Ramamurthy
In those days, before the advent of the Second World War, the military office at Shimla (a city in North India) was in need of clerks for the armed forces. Our house owner’s friend wanted to join, and so he applied for a position.
There was a rule in the services at that time that married employees may return home after a stint of two years and enjoy service benefits such as claiming travel expenses amongst other benefits for self and family for the rest of their lives. However, non-married members had to serve for a longer period.
However, some unscrupulous applicants lied to the management stating that they were married, while in fact they were still bachelors. The house owner’s friend was one such. After a two-year period, he returned home and got married. In due course he and his wife had some daughters.
One day through a couple of friends he came to know that his previous employers had set the police in search of him having come to know of the truth.
This news rattled this person to the core. He was afraid that his and his family’s reputation would be at stake if the police found out his address and arrested him. Though he was not financially well off, his family had a good reputation. To top it all what would become of his daughters in case of such an eventuality?
He rushed to my husband to help him and in desperation, requested my husband to take him to Sai Baba. However, my husband, knowing the truth behind the desperation, refused to take him to Puttaparthi as he had cheated the government. So this person left for Puttaparthi alone.
During darshan, Swami saw the man in the lines but did not take notice. The person too was afraid of approaching Swami. So he remained alone and slept away the entire day. Next morning Swami asked him in the mandir, “Did you join the army?” When he replied in the affirmative, He told him that he had made a big mistake by fraudulently leaving the service.
“What is point of weeping now? You have committed a major blunder right at the beginning. However, as you have made such as mistake for the first time and because you have daughters whom you must get married off and settled, I will forgive you. Go back home. The police will not arrest you. I shall see to it.”
After repeated assurances by Swami, the person left, but with still some doubt and fear in him. He spent a fortnight of sleepless nights, and then received a letter from a friend which said that the army office is not keen on punishing him and has in fact forgotten the issue!
Swami at that time was in Mysore. This person rushed to Swami and prostrated at His feet and sought His pardon for his misbehavior.
Swami forgave him advising him to practice truth. Having said this, Swami wanted to meet the person’s wife. So he rushed home and brought his wife. When Swami saw her, He said that she was a chaste woman. And added that if the wife is chaste whatever difficulty comes to her husband will vanish.
Finally, before they returned, Swami blessed them with vibhuti. This person was totally transformed.
Even Iron Girders Obey Swami!
When the new mandir in Prasanthi Nilayam was being built, there were no cranes to haul the iron girders above the walls. So they were hauled up manually. Women performed puja before they were lifted. Turmeric and vermillion were applied on them and coconuts were broken. The girders were rested against the walls. Swami then commanded the iron girders to rest snug on the walls – and they did!
Mother First, Sadhana Next
“I have come to You for a monastic life. Instead, you tell me to go back to a worldly life!” Swami replied to him that no amount of sadhana would procure merit if one’s responsibilities are not met and that anyway he was not qualified for such a sadhana as a monk. “Your mother did menial labor in many households to feed you. Now you forsake her. How can I shower on you any grace? Go back home and look after your mother well.”
Once a man of about 25 years of age came to see Swami and Bhagavan had given him a room in the Patashala block. One day Swami beckoned the young man and asked him to go and buy a pant and shirt from a shop outside. The man questioned Swami, to which he was told to go back to his ailing mother. The young man protested.
“I have come to You for a monastic life. Instead, you tell me to go back to a worldly life!” Swami replied to him that no amount of sadhana would procure merit if one’s responsibilities are not met and that anyway he was not qualified for such a sadhana as a monk.
“Your mother did menial labor in many households to feed you. Now you forsake her. How can I shower on you any grace? Go back home and look after your mother well.”
You Are Amruta Swaroopas!
While performing pradakshanam (circumambulation) we traditionally chant, “Papoham Papakarmani”, which means that we are sinners, and thus ask for pardon. Swami warned us not to chant the mantram so, but to chant “Prapthoham Prapthakarmoham” (I shall accept the consequences of my actions). He said, “All of you are not sinners, but amruta swaroopas (embodiments of the nectar of immortality). In our daily deeds we should worship and gain the grace of God.” Swami then approached the temple priest, Sri Padmanba Sastry, and instructed him to chant likewise. Swami asked him to learn the mantram first and then teach it to all the devotees in His presence.
I Am the Mantra and the Lord!
A group of scholars once visited Prashanti Nilayam, the leader of whom was a well-educated individual. This person who accompanied this group approached Swami and told Him, “This group chants the Krishna Purana mantras very well. I brought them here with me as the group that chants the mantras here often make mistakes. This group with me will teach them the exact nuances of chanting the mantras.”
Swami at once replied, “Oh, they make mistakes, is it? Let it be so. I don’t notice technical mistakes made while chanting. I only see the intense devotion inherent in them. I am the mantra and the Lord. I am both! Despite the distance of the Sun, when you keep a pot of water exposed to the Sun, the water gets heated. So too those who live here will become holy souls even without their knowledge.”
I once asked Swami to initiate me and give me mantra diksha (initiation into a mantra). Swami told me that He would do so only if I stop traveling continuously and stayed in Puttaparthi for a month. “What is the point if you do not concentrate?” He asked me and advised me to pray for a steadfast mind.
My sister’s son was a very weak child and hardly had any flesh on his thin body. Though we tried various means to help the child put on weight, we were not successful. We took him to Swami and asked for His blessings. Swami asked us to consult His Gruham Ammai (Mother Easwaramma).
When we visited her, she suggested to give the child porridge made of ragi (a type of food grain) seasoned with salt. We fed this to the child for six months and he put on normal weight. When we went to Swami later, He enquired about the child and then told us, “You people always prefer English medicines (allopathy). You believe in those chemically prepared foods only.”
How Can I But Not Listen?
A person, Lakshminarayana, had a daughter who was married and was living with her husband. Her husband however was not a good person as he used to fight with her often.
Once when she had visited Puttaparthi, Swami gave her a photo. She told Swami that she has a lot of His photos and hence did not want one more. Swami, however, forced her to take it and asked her to keep it with her. She then accepted the picture.
Her father, Sri Lakshminarayana, later visited Swami and stayed for a couple of months. Every day Swami narrated the quarrels that his daughter had with her husband.
After a few months, his daughter came to visit him and narrated to her father all the quarrels she had had with her husband. Later when Sri Lakshminarayana asked Swami how He was able to narrate everything so clearly and accurately, Swami replied, “How can I but not listen when I am there in your daughter’s kitchen through the picture that I had given her? I was hearing all their quarrels and was observing everything through that photo.”
(To be continued)